3 Simple Tricks That Will Take Your Training To The Next Level
Thanks to the nature of the Internet we’re always looking for tips and tricks to take things to the next level. Primarily because working for something sounds way too hard, and also because tips and tricks sound a hell of a lot sexier than spending hundreds or thousands of hours putting in real work. Especially when it comes to getting results in the gym.
Hopefully if you’re still reading you recognize that the above paragraph is laden with a healthy dose of sarcasm, but there’s some truth to the above statement. Working is fucking hard. And there’s no real shame in looking to make your work more effective and efficient. Solely as long as you’re still doing the work.
So for those of you out there who are steadily putting in the work day in and day out and want to make things a bit more effective, here are 3 simple changes you can make to your training to take things up a notch.
Pay attention to your breath (especially the exhale).
This is something I’ve really started to come around on as of late. For a long time I felt like people who talked a bunch about the importance of breathing were overstating things. They were focusing on the small rocks that didn’t make much of a difference. But I’ve changed my mind here.
Over the past year I’ve been playing with a focused exhale on most lifts and noticed that not only does the rhythm of the movement flow more throughout a set, but a get a much better ab contraction. No matter what it is that I’m doing.
And that’s a big one, because I’m of the opinion that a hardcore ab contraction in the context of just about any movement can make things better. Not only do you get stronger and better looking abs, you get a spine that stays in a safer position because of the tension throughout the core.
So look at playing with a 5-7 exhale at the hardest portion of each movement, specifically working to get rid of all of your air and each and every breath. I think you’ll be surprised by just how much this changes the game.
Squeeze the shit out of something.
One of the biggest mistakes I commonly see in gyms is that people don’t hold onto whatever it is they’re using with much tension. Barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells, machines, or whatever just sits loosely in their hands. And this is a problem.
It’s a problem because not only does this make it easier for something to roll out of your hands, making an exercise less safe, but you’re robbing yourself of the ability to make an exercise more effective.
The body views the hands and feet as the end points, and when you can use those end points to impart as much tension into the body as possible, you get more muscular contraction on just about everything it is that you’re doing.
Let me repeat that for those in the back: when you squeeze whatever you’re holding onto your muscles work harder. That’s not bullshit. That’s actually real science. And it can make a difference in how effective each and every lift you do is. And if each lift performed is more effective, compound that over the course of a couple of years, and that’s a significant improvement.
So think about choking the life out of whatever it is that you’re using and see how something changes.
Play with your tongue.
This one is kind of abstract and weird, but studies have actually shown that shoving your tongue into the roof of your mouth can help you impart more tension into the system as a whole, making you safer and making exercises more effective. Remember, tension is a big deal here.
We find that this is especially true if you’re doing any sort of single leg movements. So think single leg romanian deadlifts, lunges, split squats, or anything else. Seriously, give it a try right now. Do any of those movements without your tongue in the roof of your mouth, and then give it a try with your tongue pressed firmly there. I can almost guarantee you that you’ll notice a difference.
It feels like witchcraft, and it probably is. But it’s also a simple hack to make you better at movements that tend to be really difficult to begin with.
Give these a try in your next training session. Remember, they obviously aren’t replacements for hard work. But they certainly do make a difference when implemented with a hardcore training program and performed day in and day out over the long haul.