If you do resistance work as part of your fitness program, that's a good thing. But have you ever paid attention to what the rest of rest of your body may be doing while you build your muscles and coordination?
Think of yourself doing a biceps curl. Make the actual motion. If you have a dumbbell handy, use it to examine exactly where your energy goes while you do this basic exercise. Analyze the flex and tension of your body. Does the biceps curl work on the biceps alone? Or does your neck and deltoid get into the act as well, tensing up as you lift the weight?
If you have been unaware of energy going to body parts that aren't part of the exercise movement you're performing, you're letting yourself get sidetracked as an athlete. Yet it's something that many athletes do to themselves. They hunch their shoulders while doing a lat pulldown, leaving less energy available to use good form on this classic exercise. They tense their hamstrings when doing a pushup, thus taking energy away from the arms and core and sharing that valuable resource of energy with a muscle group not directly involved in the exercise movement.
Only by paying attention to what the rest of your body is doing will you be able to use perfect form with every exercise you do. If, for example, you tense your thighs while doing a standup biceps curl, your thighs will take workout energy away from the biceps.
It's way too easy to get distracted from the main muscle or muscle group you are working on if you don't pay strict attention to what the rest of your body is doing. The next time you go to the gym, do each movement with the attitude of an outside observer. Examine what your body is doing when you do a 'good morning' with a weighted bar resting on your trapeziums, bending your torso over to be perpendicular to the floor. Did you tense your calves while doing this movement? If so, why? The calves are not a 'driver' in this exercise. According to the popular weightlifting site stack.com, "The exercise primarily strengthens the muscles on the backside of your body, or what's referred to as your posterior chain. Your glutes (butt muscles) and hamstrings (backs of your thighs) drive the movement. These muscles are involved in the vast majority of sports skills, such as sprinting, jumping, throwing a ball and others, so strengthening them is essential."
One of the main energy wasters in a workout is the hunching of your shoulders. In your next resistance training session, examine how often you lift or tighten your shoulders even though they may not actually be involved in the exercise you are performing. Shoulder hunching can also accompany other activities besides a workout. It's like a 'guarding' motion. Many people raise, or hunch their shoulders while driving a vehicle in rush-hour traffic. Any time you find yourself wasting energy in this fashion, turn your concentration against it. Concentrate instead on relaxing those pesky shoulder muscles. If you can relax your shoulders while having both hands on the wheel of a vehicle, that's a good way to start the ending of wasting energy in your workouts or your sport.
Wina Sturgeon is the editor of the online magazine Adventure Sports Weekly , which offers the latest training, diet and athletic information.