Every monday is chest day. Then it’s bench press, butterflies, and inclined bench press. Every few weeks you increase the weight so there are enough impulses for muscle growth. Every wednesday is leg day (never skip leg day!) with squats, some leg extension exercise, and don’t forget the adductors and abductors. Every friday is back day. And this is how your training goes, week after week, month after month. Sounds monotonous? Hell yeah! Tutorial Thursday will give you helpful advice how to escape the routine. Or how to use it to your advantage.
I hate nothing more than routine!
Doing the same over and over again, with no end in sight, is hard. Very hard on your psyche and even unhealthy for your body. We are not built to do the same things over and over again, perform the same movements endlessly, and to deal with the same things all the time, completely monotonously and without even the slightest hint of alternation. Or are we?
At the same time, habits, which are more or less a form of routine, are very important for us. But here’s the kicker: in moderation! Not immoderation… Bad habits can hurt us and good habits may occur even more often. (see also TT#19)
For example: the correct lift of a heavy object. It should become a routine to lift a case of water with a nice squat and a straight back from the ground into the car. ‘But I only drink tap water, I don’t need to carry cases of water’, is probably something you might be saying now. However, you get the gist of it. These movements are everywhere in your daily life and it should become a routine to tackle the daily challenges with correct form so your body can perform perfectly. If your body automatically knows how to move well it will help you tremendously and you will become less injury-prone. In the specialist literature the term ‘muscle memory’ is often used in this connection. However, this memory has to be formed first.
How can I optimize the movements of my body?
With routine! So by doing the same movement over and over again. For about 500 repetitions! Only then can I assume that my body has internalized the movement. The infamous slogan ‘quality before quantity‘, openly hated by athletes all over the world, in this sense, is a bit misleading. Quality, in a way, can only result from quantity. To achieve perfect movement quality you have to repeat it over and over again. And only when you have completely internalized the perfect form you can turn your attention towards other aspects of your training. Then, a big part of your concentration will not be used up by actively remembering to keep the hip straight, extend the back, and hold the head in extension of the spine at all times – with increasing muscle memory abilities your body can handle that by itself. You can then concentrate on bigger weights and tackle new personal records.
Routine + diversity = success
Earlier I have told you that I despise routine more than anything else. What now?
Moderate variation! I can do a clean squat without weights, with additional weights in different positions, with the help of a sling trainer, on different floors, etc. I should also vary the volume. It still remains a squat, though. With a slight variation so the muscles, sinews, tendons, and joints learn and remember the movement, but with enough variation to avoid boredom.
Once the movement has become second nature, it becomes even more important for your training to vary the exercises to achieve even more gains. (see also TT#22) As a positive side-effect, a diversified training is so much more fun! It doesn’t surprise me at all that there are so many people that don’t see sport as a fun activity, and that so many gym-goers simply stop coming after a few weeks. When you always do the same the fun will quickly fade away. That’s just how our brain work.
So my tip for you: take essential fuctional movements like the squat, deadlift, push-up, pull-up etc. and implement them in high numbers early in your training plan. Without additional weights or with little weights. Once the movements are internalized there are no limits to variations!
Oh, I almost forgot! Since I care very much about your ability to do band-resisted push-ups in perfect form I have added a moving picture that will show you the correct form. Simply do the exercise together with the picture and only stop once the picture stops and soon you will master the band-resisted push-up! And next week I will give you another movement.
Stop only once the picture stops. Have fun practicing!