I worked with another fitness buff recently to help correct her lifting form and to show her some resistance training exercises that she can do at home. Anna has a great blog and website full of fitness and nutrition information. We will be working together more so look for more upcoming videos and blogs. You can check her out on her website at www.fititalianmama.com, and Facebook at Motiv8 by Fititalianmama. She also had a few questions for me for her blog and I thought I'd share them with you here as well.
Q: How important is form for your gains?
A: Form plays a huge role in achieving gains. Correct form isolates and recruit’s the correct muscle and muscle group for that particular exercise. Gains and hypertrophy are about the time that your muscles are under tension (TUT: Time Under Tension). In order to be broken down and grow bigger, your muscles need to spend the majority of each rep under tension. That’s why proper form and concentric (upward phase) and eccentric (downward phase) tempo are so important with each rep that you do. Also, a major reason why proper form is so important is because it reduces the chance of injury. Bad form should be corrected immediately so that you can train injury free. When you use bad form, you will be getting an inefficient workout for your muscles and will eventually get injured. Injuries result in time off from training, which will greatly diminish your chance to make quality gains.
Q: What’s one struggle that you see among beginners form?
A: When people start out lifting weights they usually try to lift too heavy to begin. They think they are doing an exercise correctly and using the proper muscles, but in reality they are forced to use bad form and not isolate the correct muscle group to lift the heavy weight. The biceps curl is a great example, as most beginners will attempt a weight that is too heavy, resulting in their body having to recruit leg and back muscles to lift the weight to the top of the rep and finish the set. This is a good way to get injured. Also, a lot of beginners don’t take into effect the right pace of movement for each rep. They attempt to lift the weight up as fast as they can on the concentric phase and drop the weight down as quickly as possible on the eccentric phase. The eccentric phase in lifting weights is just as important as the concentric phase for tearing down and building up muscle fibers. You need to have a good solid tempo when lifting free weights and should shoot for an explosive 1 second upward phase and a controlled 2-3 second downward phase for most exercises. Find a rhythm with each rep and exercise, and use both movement phases to properly train your muscles. So, finding the proper weight and keeping good form while isolating the correct muscle group will give you the most TUT, resulting in muscular gains.
Q: What’s one thing that you teach a client that you hope really sticks with them?
A: Well, I hope everything that I teach them sticks, haha. But if I had to narrow it down I would say proper form, and also muscle confusion. Proper form is number one because without it you will most likely get hurt and have to take a break from training. Also, as I said earlier bad form results in you thinking that you are getting a good workout but you are really getting an inefficient one. Learning proper form is the best way to assure yourself that you are getting the best workout possible and making the most gains.
Also, muscle confusion is something that I try to make my clients aware of. A lot of people find a workout routine that they like and continue to do it for months, maybe even years. In truth, as soon as you do a particular workout with the same exercises a handful of times your body begins to find ways to do those exercises more efficiently, which is the enemy. In order to keep plateaus away and continue making gains you need to confuse your muscles and make them work in different ways. I recommend to my clients that we change up their training program every 4-6 weeks to see the best results.
Q: How do you feel about the saying that nutrition is 80% of making gains?
A: That’s a tough one to answer because nutrition and training go hand in hand when it comes to gains. You WILL NOT get the results that you are training for without proper nutrition AND training. You can’t out-train a bad diet and you can’t just eat healthy and expect to get strong and fit. In order to make gains you need to fuel your body with the right combination of lean protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates, while doing a demanding training program. I don’t agree that nutrition is 80% of gains but I will say that it’s impossible to get great results without a proper diet and nutrition regimen. My advice is to find out how many calories you burn at rest (Basil Metabolic Rate) and during your training, then adjust your nutritional intake to keep in line with your goals. A fitness professional can be a great help in finding these exact numbers.
Q: Abs are made in the kitchen, myth?
A: Again, it’s really a delicate balance between your training program and your nutritional intake. On this one I can say that nutrition is a greater factor than training and it definitely isn’t a myth. Mark my words, without a proper diet and nutritional intake you will never have that lean six-pack look or an amazing core. Of course you need to train hard, as lean muscle plays a vital role in having a healthy, fast metabolism which is key to burning fat, especially abdominal fat. But, you can train 2 hours a day, 7 days a week and if you feed your body junk you won’t get great abs. Simple carbohydrates and sugar are easily stored as abdominal body fat that can be difficult to get rid of even with proper training. To achieve that lean six-pack look you need to do both weight training and cardiovascular training, while keeping in mind that you can’t spot reduce fat. Fat burns as a whole, crunches and core work aren’t going to get it done. Training the whole body and increasing your lean muscle percentage is the best way to reduce body fat. Along with a great training program, be sure to avoid unhealthy fats and simple carbs. Fuel your body with the right foods at the right times of day and you will start to see great results. So, specifically speaking about getting great abs, both training and nutrition are key but nutrition is the more vital aspect to getting that six-pack look.