I had the opportunity the other day to chat with another trainer. While our preferred workout methods are different – me pilates and running , him – jujitsu and weights – we do share the same philosophy. In short – less is more. Did I just give you permission to workout less?? Not exactly!
Let me explain. Performing 25 poor form repetitions or a whole bunch of too heavy weight repetitions using momentum is going to be less effective than performing 10 perfect movements. Often times I see folks in the gym and even in pilates class flying through their workout or moving up to extra weight even though they can’t hold the proper form with the added weight. While this not only less effective and generally doesn’t target the muscles properly – it can also be dangerous. Poor forms causes strain and irregular movements that ends up taxing joints and your spine.
Slowing down and focusing on form could reap you the results you are seeking. If you don’t believe me try this simple test. Stand with feet hip distance apart – quickly bend at the knees up and down into a squat position 10 times. Pretty easy right? You could probably bounce up and down and do another 10 or 20 times with no difficulty. Now – from the same starting position – pull the belly button to the spine – exhale as you lower down to a squat position taking 5 full counts to lower and 5 full counts and an inhale to lift. As you lift squeeze the gluts. How was that?? Did you notice by slowing down, focusing on your core and breath we turned a simple squat into something significantly more challenging and more effective?? Why is this? Because your muscles were engaged the whole time unlike the first option where momentum did half the work for you.
Next time you head to the gym, to pilates class or wherever you choose to workout – slow down- check your form- breath properly and really think about how your muscles are engaging. If you are doing leg work- what is your core doing? If you are doing core work- could your inner thighs or arms be involved too? Too often we define work as leg work, arm work, and so on only focusing on one body part. When exercises are performed with proper form it is often very difficult to only use one body part. Too get the most out of your workout – involve more muscles in each movement!
In conclusion – less is more when you do less repetitions or use lower weight but use proper form and technique. Less is more when you slow down and really utilize multiple muscle groups to perform your movements. If you aren’t sure if your form is correct or you are getting the most out of your workout- book a private session and have a trainer/instructor work with you and explain each movement. A good trainer should be able to tell you how you should feel an exercise, what muscles are being used and what cues or watchouts you should pay attention to as you do your exercise.
Take your time and have a great workout!