Basic Workout Skills Our 'Smartwatch Generation' Lacks, According To A Personal Trainer

When you're scrolling Facebook between sets (and Instagram in your minds eye during), it's hard to build bodily awareness...

Basic Workout Skills Our 'Smartwatch Generation' Lacks, According To A Personal Trainer

You know how it is: you rock up to the gym, program yourself a workout, and set up for 45 minutes of open eye meditation, right? Wrong. According to a world class PT you are probably making a bunch of mistakes, primary among them being: obsessing over reps, sacrificing form and not ~feeling~ your body to ensure “max contractions.”

Of course, when you’re scrolling Facebook between sets (and Instagram in your minds eye during), it’s hard to build bodily awareness. As they say: ain’t nobody got time for that.

When you get home from work the last thing you want to do is work out your mind and your body. Put simply: most of us just want to look good, we don’t care about being agile and athletic. But this comes at a price.

As it turns out, building body awareness as you work out helps you build muscle faster, reduces your risk of injury, and can actually provide a deeper sense of calm once the workout is done and dusted.

Case in point? Paul Sklar.

Paul is a world class personal trainer, with a background in duathletics and distance running, and more than 25 years experience kicking people’s butts into shape. He’s also the proud co owner of Prescriptive Fitness, and an enviable set of abs. Come to think of it, his whole rig is enviable. How come? Allow us to present exhibit B…

With workouts like these, Paul, keeps himself more shredded than most trainers half his age. But the key to his success, he told us in an interview, begins with approaching your workout intelligently.

For example, when it comes to workouts like the chest workout pictured above, Paul says you must, “Be aware of your shoulder position.”

“The weight should not fall behind the shoulders, but rather in between mid pec and armpit. Make sure you are not using your shoulders to move the weight and don’t try to go deeper than your mobility allows.”

Paul also gave us some advice on dips—an exercise that has caught many a casual athlete out (hands up if you’ve ever put your neck into spasm competing with a mate).

“Position the dip bars for your anatomy,” Paul says, “Which is normally about shoulder width.”

“They can be angled to avoid pain or discomfort. Keep the chest and triceps engaged throughout and concentrate on pulling the shoulder blades gently together to open the pecs and avoid the shoulder.”

In addition to good technique, Paul told us that being aware of your “max contractions” for “every rep you do” is crucial to strength building. In fact, until you can no longer perform with good form or “lose” the contraction, Paul says that every rep should involve your “max contraction” (once you reach the point you are too tired to perform it, stop).

So stop focussing on a certain number of reps, and learn to listen to your body: if you can continue reaching your “max contraction” with good form, keep going (and vice versa).

“The biggest mistake (people make) is assuming you always have to lift heavy to grow your muscles. The second biggest mistake is counting reps rather than DOING reps.”

Oh and one last suggestion: don’t skip leg day. Or better yet—make every day leg day…

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