Getting the most from your muscles

Oh boy, the gym. Home to many mistakes, wasted money (how many people sign that contract and never go?), and most importantly, wasted time. I don’t want you to put in a hours upon hours and not see results. I want you to take full advantage of your body. After all, it’s the machine that powers your life.

Photo by USA Special Olympics
Reverse grip deadlifts are amazing grip strengtheners.

Underhand grip

Well, I should really say that this is more of “different grip” in general, but the biggest benefit will probably be seen by doing an underhanded grip on an overhead press. Such a press is meant to work the shoulders and upper chest, but by using an underhand technique, you boost activation of the upper pectorals from 5% to 30%.

Other exercises will benefit from switching it up, too. Underhand deadlift works your grip, switching between grips on pull-ups/chin-ups re-works muscular emphasis, and so on.
Left: A full squat. Right: Congratulations, you played yourself.

Stop half-repping

Look, if you’re on a more advanced level, half-repping can be useful for getting through specific trouble spots or getting a high-quality pump. Having a hard time locking out? Up the weight and only practice the final phase of the lift. For the rest of us, we want that full rang of motion. All the way down, all the way up. You’re cheating your own development if you do otherwise. If you can’t do it with your normal weight, that’s alright! Just go down a little. Suffer a blow to your ego now, gain better performance over the long haul.

Next time, leave the weight here for a count of 4-one-thousand or so.


Paused reps

“Time under tension” is a phrase referring to the amount of time your muscles are contracted. The longer they stay under tension, the more difficult it is for them to then exert force. This is a great way to zap your body to perform better. That squat is going to be harder to push up if you’re keeping yourself in the low position for a little bit. Bench/push-ups, deadlift, curls, you name it, you can most likely pause it, and the longer you pause it, the harder it is. Now, the drawback is you’ll want a spotter, at least until you know what you can handle.


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