With summer almost upon us, you might be thinking about joining a gym or fitness group to get into shape for the holiday period or to hit 2021 flying.
There are so many mental and physical benefits to being active but making sure you know what you are doing when you exercise is paramount.
Scott Hingston, a personal trainer who operates out of Green Life Gym in Merewether, told me getting the basics right in terms of posture and technique will put you on the right path to success. Here are some questions he answered for me which might help you get moving in the right direction:
Q: What are the most common issues you see when people first walk into the gym in terms of technique?
A: The biggest issue I notice in regards to technique is that we tend to rush into exercises without being educated effectively on how to perform these correctly. We, the coaches, take resistance training for granted way too often. It is actually quite complicated for people who are inexperienced and also low in confidence if they haven't done any training for a while. It takes time and patience to break down the technical cues of an exercise and everyone is different in relation to body alignment and effects of individual health history, including injuries and genetics. Most importantly, we need to focus a lot more on muscle contraction and not movement of an exercise.
Q: What postural impacts are you seeing with people who are working from home with the wrong set-up or who spend long hours at the computer?
A: After the year we have experienced, posture is something that needs to be focused on more than ever. The average Australian will sit for ten hours per day. COVID-19 has seen a lot more people working from home, which in many cases has resulted in more time seated in front of their computer. This position allows their mid-section to deactivate and promote the shoulders to slump forward and often cause strain and or pain through the lower back. It is basically the completely opposite to how we should align our bodies in preparation for the majority of weights exercises we perform in the gym. I like to refer to this as the "three touch points". That is hips in front then chest then shoulders, which helps to activate the mid-section. When we sit in our chair we tend to position ourselves with shoulders then chest then hips. If we do this for ten hours per day it probably explains why the technicality of resistance training can become so challenging.
Q: What exercises can people do to help correct these issues?
A: To improve posture, I would recommend a variety of pulling exercises. For many people, we would choose to begin with resistance bands moreso than pin-loaded or free-weighted exercises. Our priority is to focus on range of motion and muscle time under tension to help build the strength in areas of the body that have been effected by poor posture. We want focus on the lats, rhomboids, scapula and posterior delts to help pull the shoulders back and down. The analogy we use here is to think about your elbows touching each other. This will allow a lot more contraction to the relevant muscle groups.
Send your health and fitness news to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Renee Valentine is a journalist, qualified personal trainer and mother of three.