Every Monday workout session for me seems to have a “theme”, a coaching cue or point that either really helps me or I find myself repeating to several clients. This morning it was that good movement has a distinct feel and that our goal when training is not to “work hard” as much as it is to focus on and refine that feeling.
For example, doing a good deadlift has a distinct feeling. However, most people aren’t really sure exactly where they feel the exercise until the next day when muscle soreness tells them who was taking the brunt of the work. The first step to figuring out how good movement feels is to figure out how your movement feels right now.
Here is a quick 3 step process to instantly improving your exercise form:
1) Do a rep and when finished ask yourself where you felt the movement. Keeping with our deadlift example, did you feel you glutes squeezing tight as you drove out of the bottom position or did you feel the lower back get tight as you cranked back into it? If you get the end of a rep and you aren’t exactly sure how you got there how can you fix or refine anything?
2) Compare what you just felt to what you wanted to feel. For our deadlift example, you know you want to feel it in the glutes and not the lower back so did you accomplish that?
3) Figure out what you did right or wrong and then consciously try to refine the good feeling or correct the wrong feeling. Repeat steps 1-3 for the remainder of your reps.
This 3 step process will take some thought at first but once you get into the habit of consciously analyzing each rep it will happen on an instinctual level. You had to train yourself to be mindless during movement so you’ll have to train yourself to mindful as well. However, once you get this down you will find your exercise technique and the results from your workouts will skyrocket.
The other thing that you will find is that you won’t crave as much variety in your training since you’ll be motivated by your deeper understanding and systematic perfection of exercise rather than just looking for something “new” to keep your brain occupied. Most people never get past a surface level understanding of exercise and so their mind, looking for some sort of stimulation, looks for new exercises. However, as an athlete we need that deeper understanding to better apply our fitness to the trail.