Barrier. In the fitness industry, I call this the plateau phase. You’re exercising, but not getting stronger, leaner, or seeing results. Something is going on, right? Let’s take a look at how to break through these barrier.

First, muscles have two types of contraction during a exercise: eccentric and concentric. Eccentric contraction is when the muscle is lengthened during the movement. Concentric contraction is when the muscle tension shortens. Let’s take a bicep curl to get a visual. When you curl the weight, the bicep muscle (biceps brachii to be technical) shortens. This is the concentric contraction of the movement. When you get to the top of the motion, you lower the weight. This is when the biceps muscle starts to lengthen, which is the eccentric contraction of the movement. Its important to note that the biceps are still working during this time if the motion is controlled. If you do NOT control the motion during the eccentric portion, you are neglecting the other half of the exercise. So, one way to break through the barrier is to control the eccentric part of the movement. Becomes a whole different exercise if you do it RIGHT.

Becomes a whole different exercise if you do it RIGHT.

Second thing to remember is to make sure the body is moving well. Muscles are VERY specific to movement, so if your body isn’t rotating or bending well, its not going to recruit certain muscles. Let’s take rotation for example. In order for the body to rotate, the obliques must turn on. However, if your back is stiff, rotation and side bending will be limited. Guess what? That means your obliques will not recruit as well. These are the “fish gills” that allow you to shape up the waist. So first and foremost, address your tightness so you can actually start using the right muscles.

Lastly, is to use muscles that are not dominant. If you have a desk job, its rare that you use your triceps and shoulder blade muscles. What dominants would be your fingers, wrists, and upper back. Have you done upper body exercises and noticed that your dominant muscles take over? Well, this is where you have to make sure they don’t because you are exasperating the problem. For example, the upper trapezius muscle. These are the ones that you get the “knots” and tension between your neck and shoulder. I would say that this muscle is already strong in most people due to poor posture. The ones that need to be “woken” up are the middle and lower trapezius (there are three parts to this muscle). It starts with squeezing your shoulder blades and making sure your neck isn’t forward.

The barrier can be your dominant muscles.

Ultimately, you have to focus on executing the exercise properly. If the appropriate muscles aren’t recruited, then you are just making your dominant muscles that much stronger. If you control the concentric and eccentric part of the exercise, making sure the body is going in full range of motion, and turning off your dominant muscles will allow you to break through the barrier. Hope you enjoyed this week’s blog. Stay tuned for more next Wed……………Kei

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