Exercise is science – make lifting weights safe, effective, and efficient

A few weeks back I was given a priceless compliment – that I had provided THE BEST explanation for how exercises should be completed that he had ever heard. This came from a man who has been exercising and lifting weights for 30+ years.

I was flattered. I was proud.

The explanation

Exercise is a science – based primarily on physics and exemplified by Newton’s Laws of Motion. I will oversimplify these laws with the notion that all energy comes from somewhere and goes somewhere – it can neither be created nor destroyed. With that said, when lifting weights, where does the energy come from?

The ground!

I commonly describe the importance of grounding your body for lifting. For example, when you perform a lying chest press, it is important to drive your heels into the floor, tighten your quads and butt, draw in your navel, and pull your shoulder blades into the bench.

As the daughter of an electrician, it is only natural that I would use an electrical analogy. Electronics come with either a two- or three-prong plug. More often than not (in the United States), those with three prongs require greater amounts of energy. This third plug, the ground-fault circuit-interrutper (GFCI), was designed in the 1960s as a mechanism for safety and efficiency. The ground reduces the amount of energy lost and the risk of fire. (With GFCIs, individuals experienced fewer electrical accidents and had reduced energy usage and electrical bills.)

You know those guys you see who dance their feet around on the ground, struggling to push the weight up? They are losing energy.

Grounding yourself 

Grounding yourself during exercise ensures safety, efficacy, and efficiency. If the energy for exercise (remember Newton’s laws) comes from the ground, then you need a solid connection to that energy source. Ensuring you are mounted firmly to the ground, such as the chest press description above, increases efficacy and efficiency because your chest is doing the work (as intended) and not your legs, abdominals, or back.

Stop dancing

Individuals dance their feet while lying on the bench – whether it be for a chest press, triceps extension, or fly. The same goes for any seated exercises, for example a seated shoulder press or lateral raise. And do not forget about standing exercises! Plant your feet and tighten your legs, butt, and core for those biceps curls or front raises.

NOTE: You will be able to lift more weight for a comparable exercise while seated than while standing – you are close to your energy source.

I see the most dancing in group fitness classes. This is a good way to make a minimally effective workout even less effective. Walking or dancing around while performing biceps curls significantly reduces the safety, efficacy, and efficiency.

The bottomline

Exercise is science. We rarely think of it this way – I know that I never used to! I love training left-brained individuals who have a firm grasp of scientific principles, because I can use these crazy analogies and they actually enjoy them!

Sometimes we just need to hear something in a new way in order to understand it. Maybe this post does that for you – and maybe it does not.

Like what you read? Please comment and share below!


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