Quality Muscle Contraction For Better Gains
None of your muscles ever contract fully when you train, and this is part of the reason why your physique still sucks.
Lets do a little test by bringing your chest to a full contraction:
Keep your left arm straight down by your side throughout this test. Hold your right arm straight out in front of you. Now point your right thumb down to the ground. Now scoop your right elbow across to your left bicep. Feel your chest bunching up? Stay in position and move your elbow up toward your head - feel your upper pec fully bunch up. Now move your elbow down toward your ribs - feel your lower pec fully bunch up.
Now, are you feeling this level of contraction on AT LEAST one movement every time you go train chest? No. In fact you don’t feel anything even remotely close, because you spend most of your energy on “Chest Day” smashing out heavy bench and dumbbell presses - which are just thrashing your triceps and front delts anyway because you haven’t been taught how to perform the movements correctly to get good pec activation… 😒
Mind muscle connection and taking muscles through their full range is MORE IMPORTANT for muscle growth than throwing around heavy weights.
Well, it is if the goal is to grow the muscles you ACTUALLY want to grow. If you’re a total newbie then just go into the gym and lift heavy - you’re not at the point yet of needing to focus on specific muscles and besides, you’re so puny just doing anything is going to elicit muscle growth through your whole body.
Lets fast forward a little and you’ve become an intermediate lifter. Now’s the time to start learning how to activate individual muscles and take them through their full ranges - this means having enough control of the joint to bring each muscle to a full stretch and enough control of the muscle to be able to bring it back to a full contraction.
When we say full contraction we mean FULL CONTRACTION. This is making the muscle bunch up into its fully shortened position. If you aren’t bringing individual muscles to their FULLY SHORTENED POSITION like this then you’re leaving gains on the table.
So what do you do now? Sit down and look at your workouts. Think about what muscles you’re trying to attack in the workout, then make sure you have at least one movement where you are taking that muscle to a complete stretch and contracting from that position (eg chest fly / incline bench bicep curl / etc) and at least one movement where you’re taking the muscle to its fully shortened position (eg inner chest press seated sideways in a chest machine / standing lateral cable curls / etc). .
You’ll find that it’s a lot harder to think of movements that take muscles to their fully SHORTENED position, but to be honest the only muscles even being taken to their fully STRETCHED position are the chest and hamstrings for most people. The rest of their body gets worked in half ranges - which produces half results. .
This is one of the things we think about when we plan our client’s programs. If you don’t have the experience in the gym to be able to plan your workouts using the advice given above then stop wasting any more time and message us. We love to help!
Strength Lab - Personal Training, Body Transformation Coaching and Competition Preparation
Personal Training Camberwell, Melbourne