In a previous post we discussed the importance of maintaining proper posture or structure for both safety and performance while exercising. In this email, I would like to discuss a few concepts that can help empower you to accomplish this goal.
One concept to think about is that movement in general should emanate from your core. In martial arts this is sometimes referred to as your hara, center, or one point. Another way of thinking of this is that we want to move from core to extremity. To move safely and efficiently you need to first activate and engage your core.
The degree to which you need core activation will depend on the movement or exercise. It is important to understand that a primary reason for core activation is to maintain proper structure an alignment of the spine. A heavy squat, deadlift, or leg press will require more activation than a bodyweight lunge. Too much bracing of the core can actually restrict movement. Learning to identify how much activation you need to move safely and efficiently requires practice and intentional focus.
Here are a few ideas to consider that may help you develop the skill of maintaining posture and structure when exercising.
1. Consider that the primary objective of exercise is to train the muscle to a point of momentary fatigue in order to stimulate gains in strength and the downstream positive health and performance benefits. The objective is not to simply move the weight and demonstrate strength.
2. A hardwired response to high levels of stress, fear, or danger is the fight, flight, or freeze response. Physically this can manifest to look like a flinch. I often see this occur when a client comes close to failure on an exercise. It is as if the client perceives failure as a threat and transitions to this fight or flight response by jutting their head forward to assist in moving the weight. If you can remember that failure is the goal and use your breathing and intention to focus on maintaining form (including proper structure) as you near failure, you may correct this issue.