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Simple things you need to cover to grow optimally

Have you ever wondered what makes a training plan effective? Perhaps it is the exercise selection? Or maybe the overall structure of each workout? Or what if it is the training frequency and amount of volume you are doing? These are essential factors, and you should pay some attention to them. But there are five things you need to be mindful of each time you are at the gym. Let’s see what these are:

1. Do Quality Repetitions

The repetitions you do are what make up each workout. One by one, they add up and determine how good or bad your workouts are. You can think of them as the individual steps you need to take to go from the start of a workout to the end of it.

One of the best ways to grow better is to take care of your repetition quality. More specifically:

Do each repetition with a full range of motion
Do each repetition smoothly and with complete control of the weight
Feel the right muscles working at all times

These might seem simple, but you would be surprised how many people never think twice of them. Why? Because they are simple but take consistent effort to pull off.

2. Breathe!

Be honest: How often do you pay attention to your breathing while training? Unfortunately, if you are like most people, that does not happen often. But here is the thing: While seemingly trivial, your breathing can make a huge difference in your performance and ability to make good progress.

So, with each repetition, be mindful of your breathing. Breathe in as you initiate the repetition and out once you are past the halfway point and going back to the starting position. In and out. In and out. It is incredibly simple but not easy. Why? Because it takes effort and forces you to be mindful of the work you’re doing.

3. Always control the weight

Have you ever found yourself halfway through a set and realizing that you are not in complete control of the weight you are using? Sure, you control it to a degree, but you feel a bit unsure. This can be especially scary on exercises like the bench press.

Besides the apparent risk of injuries, not controlling the weights prevents you from making the most of your training. At some point, you will have to sacrifice something to keep doing repetitions, be it the range of motion, the smoothness of each repetition, or something else.

So, do yourself a favor and decrease the amount of weight you are using by five to ten percent for one workout. Chances are, you will find that you are much better able to control the weight, you will feel a lot safer, and you will be able to engage your muscles much more.

4. Pay Attention to each Muscle Contraction

Contrary to popular belief, there are three types of muscle contraction:

Concentric – as the muscle shortens
Eccentric – as the muscle lengthens
Isometric – as the muscle maintains a static position

To make the most out of your training, you need to take advantage of all three contractions. This allows you to make each repetition as effective as possible. Think about it this way:

If you only cared about lifting the weights but then let it drop to the starting position, you would be missing half the stimulus a repetition can cause.

So, lift weights mindfully. Lift them with care, maintain the top position for a moment, and lower them gradually each time. Make sure your muscles do the entire work all the time.

5. Have a Training Plan, but learn to Improvise

Have you ever found yourself putting together a training program, outlining it inside a phone app or workout journal, and going to the gym to execute it? Of course, you have. Who has not? Most people know what they want to do when they get to the gym, so getting a training program is a no-brainer. But let me ask you this:

Have you ever found yourself feeling bound by the training program? Not that the program is bad, but it ca not fully capture how you feel each day?

This is because most training programs are rigid. Do this, do that, then do the other thing. Do this many reps here, that many sets, and these particular exercises. Then, once finished, go home to recover.

And sure, this is a good enough approach sometimes. But we all find ourselves feeling particularly good or bad on some days. For instance, you might feel particularly energized sometimes, and the workout might feel much easier to handle. Or you might feel particularly drained one day and feel like you can not do your workout as outlined.

In such cases, it would be better to improvise and learn how to listen to your body. Feel better than usual? Push yourself a bit harder. Feel particularly tired? There is no shame in doing a bit less.

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