Nordine Zouareg

The Ten Commandments of Mindful Strength Training

In this post, I share my TEN COMMANDMENTS OF MINDFUL STRENGTH TRAINING. Keeping these ten dos and don’ts in mind will ensure that you gain the maximum benefit from each and every workout.

  1. Warm-Up: A 5-minute warm-up will bring more blood to your muscles, lubricate your joints, and prevent unnecessary injury.
  2. Stretch: Stretching between each set of strength exercises will not only make you more flexible and increase your range of motion, but it will also increase blood flow to your muscles and break down the buildup of lactic acid that can make you stiff and sore. When you lift weights, your body changes glucose into ATP (adenosine triphosphate) to fuel your performance. During this process, lactic acid quickly builds up in your muscles. When it increases past a certain point you feel an intense burning sensation. I have included an appropriate stretch for each muscle group in chapters ten and eleven.
  3. Focus: Concentrate on every move you perform. Forget about paying your bills, making your grocery list, or preparing for your next meeting. When your mind wanders, bring it back by becoming aware of your breathing and what your muscles are doing. When you stay in the moment you will be connected to the muscle you are working, your range of motion will increase, and the quality of your workout will be magnified. To help you do that, I suggest that you stare at a fixed spot within your direct line of vision because, when your eyes are moving, you are more likely to be distracted.
  4. Maintain proper sequencing: Proper sequencing of your exercises is important for improving strength and muscle tone. Go from large muscles to small, from multiple-joint to single-joint exercises, from higher to lower intensity. I have organized the exercises in this manual in the order you should perform them.
  5. Maintain speed and form: Each exercise can be broken down into two segments: the positive and the negative. In a bench press, for example, pushing the weight from your chest toward the ceiling is the positive (concentric); lowering it is the negative (eccentric). Always perform your movements with mindfulness and control. Don’t rush or jerk the weights. A good, challenging set consists of 12 to 15 repetitions done with controlled speed and perfect form using the full range of motion. If you can’t do that, you’re probably using too much weight.
  6. Progress: By progress, I mean adding more weight to each exercise as you gain strength so that you are always using the greatest amount of weight possible without compromising your form.
  7. Challenge your set: This means always taking your set to the point where you can’t perform another repetition without compromising form and/or speed.
  8. Breathe properly: Proper breathing during strength training is exactly the opposite of what it should be when you’re stretching. During strength training, exhale through your mouth as you complete the positive segment of the exercise and inhale on the negative. I tell my clients to count their reps aloud (if you’re in a public place, just whisper) as they breathe until the breathing process becomes automatic and natural.
  9. Rest: To maintain proper intensity, you should rest for no more than 30 seconds between sets or exercises. This is all the time it takes to stretch, change weights, and prepare for the next set or exercise.
  10. Give your muscles time to recover: You should never work the same muscle groups two days in a row. That’s why this plan alternates upper and lower body exercises.

There you have it!

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