Squeeze Those Muscles for the Best Use of Your Time

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Squeeze Those Muscles for the Best Use of Your Time

Proper form helps you reach fitness goals faster

For most of us time is a precious commodity, so we need to make our exercise time count. Form is everything when it comes to using your time efficiently, especially when performing weight or resistance training routines. I believe exercise is 60 percent mental and 40 percent physical. The ability to mentally isolate a chosen muscle is paramount to the actual body movement. The key is to know which muscle or muscle group is being exercised, and then focus on working that muscle by squeezing it at the maximum contraction.

Know the difference between an exercise working a muscle, and merely expending time moving a body part. For instance, when performing bicep curls, make sure to squeeze the bicep muscle when contracting it (bending the elbow) to ensure the bicep is maximally exercised. Merely extending and contracting the elbow joint will not be effective. The same theory holds for triceps kickbacks, which work the area under the upper arm (also affectionately known as the batwing area). Here, the elbow is held stationary while the lower arm extends back and contracts. The triceps is worked when the lower arm is extended back, but to complete the move (and the most critical part), squeeze the triceps as the arm is fully extended to maximally work the muscle.

For the lower body, let’s focus on the gluteus maximus (rear end!). Get down on all fours (hands and knees), extend the right leg back, and then lift and lower your foot to the ground—two counts up and two counts down. Each time you lift your leg, squeeze the glute to get maximum results.

Exercising the core (or abdominal) area is rife with abuse. An effective abdominal crunch means you should contract the abdominal muscles downward every time you crunch up. Think of pressing the belly button toward the floor. If you press the bellybutton up instead, let’s just say you will be working toward a muscular pouch as the muscles build outward.

This squeeze muscle theory applies to almost all body sculpting and toning exercises. If you are not getting results from your workout, try the mental game of contracting that muscle. If you are still unsure, talk with a personal trainer at your gym to make sure you are working the chosen body part effectively. Even if you’ve been exercising for a while, you may still need a workout refresher. I still ask questions about my form, especially if it’s a new exercise or I’m not getting the expected results.

Remember: Weight work builds muscle mass, which burns calories faster than fat, And don’t worry, ladies, you will not bulk up unless you are bench pressing 60 or 70 pounds daily and are on steroids. As your body improves, you will be motivated to maintain your workout regimen.


Benita Perkins