By Scott Forrester, Contributed
Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner
Certified Personal Trainer
Being goal oriented:
In today’s fast paced, profit based world, the idea is to get “fit” as quickly as possible.
But is that the most efficient way to achieve your personal goals?
To begin a weight training program, many people will start out using machines at the gym. And that is fine.
That is the right place for many people to start.
However, it is still worth considering that in many cases, you will get more “bang for your buck” by using free weights. That is due partly to the fact that machines stabilize the weight for you, but with free weights, including the now popular kettlebells, you must develop the core strength and coordination to do the exercises effectively in the first place.
But how do you start?
There are several questions that people usually have in mind. Because we are used to a culture where we are in a hurry for results, the questions might come in this order.
First, how much weight should I lift? Then, if not neglected altogether, what should my form be? And finally, the most neglected question of all, what should I be aware of?
This is a typical framework for a goal oriented approach.
But notice that the first two questions are about external matters, both of which are important of course. Only the third question asks what your personal involvement in the program should be.
“If I think of achievement principally, I find that some part of myself is always left out, ” body and mind pioneer Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais once stated.
With the hurry up approach, we lose the elements of self-involvement and self-learning.
Ironically in doing so, you stand a good chance of not laying a proper foundation and not succeeding with a useful program at all.
What is another approach?
Being process oriented.
Actually, despite what you may have been told, success takes time.
In a process oriented approach, success is important even if it does take time.
With this fitness mentality, it is necessary to reverse the order of the three questions we just discussed, so the overwhelming concern is self-involvement.
The first question then becomes, how can I use my own awareness to learn to do this well? How can I learn to make good form my foundation?
Without good form you will eventually run into a wall by plateauing, experiencing possible injury, and inability to tap into your potential which can result in not achieving your long-range goals.
By making this a priority and you will end up with great results.
The first step can be to get someone to help with your form. There are many sources of information for this. People at the gym you attend, gym buddies and even the internet can help.
Then, learn the even finer points of your form. Above all let your own awareness, sense of coordination and efficiency be your teacher.
At first work with very light weights. Have the courage to lift lighter than those around you while you learn.
The last consideration, how much weight should I lift, becomes valid after you have addressed the first two.
Here too, time matters.
It is wise to give yourself a “break-in month,” where your body familiarizes itself with the movement. Lift only 40 percent of your easy one-rep max for a week, and then working up to one set of 70 percent of your easy one-rep max by the last week of the break-in month.
From there you can work up to doing 70 to 80 percent of your one-rep max, for 8 to 12 repetitions. You can also schedule some weeks where you work up to 1 to 2 reps of 85 to 90 percent of one-rep max.
Keep track of your progress. Write it down. Look at the progress toward your individual goals.
Always do warm-up sets and never jump right into heavy lifting right away.
Remember, it is particularly important to accustom your body to form first, because your best gains in strength are from well-performed traditional heavy exercises such as deadlifts, squats and overhead presses.
Never assume that your form is good enough and you have nothing more to learn.
Follow all these steps and you will have a good and rewarding program. You can also apply the process oriented awareness approach to other areas in your life.