Resistance training in personal training sessions - some fundamentals

Resistance training is a crucial element of almost every personal training programme. It is the first element on the training plan for weight loss (more in later posts), for seniors and a critical element in strength and conditioning for athletes. Within a few seconds of searching youtube, however, you can find numerous examples of disasters in the gym when it comes to training with resistance equipment. So what are the fundamentals of technique.

In the first instance, posture is key. This means maintaining a neutral spine with a slight arch in the lower back. This applies to every exercise whether training for strength or endurance. If the amount of weight lifted ever means that you have to come out of neutral spine, that weight is almost certainly inappropriate. Always maintain posture and avoid sacrificing it.

The second is alignment. This means keeping alignment between specific joints as you move through an exercise. An example - leg press: as you complete the exercise, keep alignment between hips, knees and toes. This allow the forces (both generated and absorbed) to be passed along the chain of joints in a smooth, sequential manner.

Range of motion is important. For the most part, when you start resistance training you, aim for FROM (full range of motion). This means going through the fullest range you can when doing an exercise. This means you'll develop the ability of the muscle to generate force over a full range. The forces generated by muscle are transferred to the bones to which they attach. By completing exercise through a full range, bones as well as muscles benefit.

So, as you start resistance training, think much less about the weight you are lifting than about your posture, alignment and range of motion. These are some of the fundamentals. get thee foundations right and you can start to move with confidence with your resistance training.

This is a precis of an article written for the Strength and Conditioning Journal.

Mullineaux, M. (2001) ‘Strength Conditioning: Developing Your Teaching Technique’ Strength and Conditioning Journal, 23, 4 pp.17-19. 

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