Training technique is paramount. As an instructor I have always been passionate about performing all types of exercise with the correct technique. I continue to learn with every session, about how to recruit different muscles, how to have better balance and alignment and how to push myself to my limits and then recover well. The list below describes some exercise I do and how we can all improve:
1. RPM – check your seat height on the bike, check seat position (forward or back) and also height of handle bars, this can prevent knee and hip pain/injury. Always listen to your instructor’s cues, i.e. when climbing out of the saddle, keep your butt back to it taps the seat, when doing a seated sprint, bring your butt forward on the saddle. Make sure you cool down and stretch. Most importantly, turn up the resistance or you are wasting your time!
2. Yoga – Bring your own yoga mat, this is important for hygiene but you can also practise at home. It also prevents slipping in sun salutations and downward dog. Keep your legs strong in all the standing postures and arms extended out in a line. Always keep your head on the same level as the spine and try not to drop it.
3. Body Attack or High Impact Aerobics – Wear good shoes that have cushioning. Be precise with your move whether it be knees up, jumping jacks or running in place. Think about your hip stability and try to gently engage the core during high impact moves.
4. Running – Look at your foot strike, you should run and get your heels in contact with the ground first, then the toe. Keep the arms active but not tensed.
5. Pilates – Pilates is all about breathing, core control and alignment. Listen to each exercise set up before starting it and then make sure your head centred – do not watch the instructor whilst doing exercises as you may strain your neck. Slower and controlled movements are harder than quick moves.
6. Body Step – Make sure your whole foot lands on the step each time you step up. Keep your core engaged to assist with pelvic stability, be precise with moves, try to avoid just bouncing through the routine. Use your arms to burn more calories.
7. Body Pump – Check your plates are secure on the bar and make sure you have a variety of weights to suit all muscle groups. Never swing the weight, always keep good posture and choose a weight that is heavy enough to make you work, but the right weight to maintain good technique.
8. Some of my fave free weight exercises technique cues:
a. Bicep curls: keep the shoulders back and down and elbows close to the sides of the body, abs tight stand tall, avoid arching back to lift the weight.
b. Lunges: Keep your front knee over the ankle and drop your back knee right down towards the floor, squeeze your butt on the way up.
c. Shoulder press: When pushing the weight up keep your abs engaged and keep your spine neutral. Keep your elbows in and drive it up using the shoulders not too much trapezius tension or neck tension as this may lead to injury.
9. Stretch, stretch and stretch some more. This is the only reason I have stayed in the fitness industry for so long. Stretching straight after your workout is vital to prevent injury, and minimise muscle soreness. The best benefit stretching has is creating body awareness. We all must get to know our bodies, our imbalances in muscle structure or skeletal structure and work on these. Stretching and active recovery using the foam roller or other tools like chi ball are very effective in keeping your body pain free so you can go hard every workout!
10. If you have pain rest and see a professional like a doctor, physio or chiro. Don’t be a hero and go days without it being checked out, love your body, you only have one so treat it with respect!