The exercises you do, and how often you work out are important variables in your exercise program,
but the quality of each repetition you perform will ultimately determine the success of your routine.
If you really want to make sure your exercise is making you stronger, I would consider paying close
attention to the following:
The end ranges of an exercise are important yet risky places to explore, especially as the weight gets
heavier. If your exercise is controlled properly, muscle function improves and you get stronger. If
your exercise is controlled improperly, muscles may tighten up and you get weaker.
If you use momentum to move a weight to a position you can’t control, you run the risk of your muscles
tightening up as a protective response. This tightness prevents you from entering the same range
on subsequent reps, and may negatively impact similar motions in daily life. The same protective
tightening response may occur if you allow a weight to push you into a position you can’t control at
the other end of the range. This tightness may show up immediately, or take a day or two to kick in as
your body adjusts. Sometimes the range of motion itself is not impacted, but your body will decrease
the ability to contract your muscles in these ranges nonetheless. The net result is decreased ability to
generate force with these muscles, and a reduced ability to control that joint’s position. The impact
of a single protective response may be minimal, but an accumulation of these small set-backs over a
number of joints and an extended period of time may be detrimental.
Three guidelines to consider while exercising:
1. Check what range of motion you can explore without weight first
2. Slow down heading into and out of (during) changes in direction to ensure appropriate control
at these end points
3. Focus on contracting the muscles that will create the desired motion, and let this contraction
dictate the appropriate range for the exercise