Why do you train? To look good? To feel healthy? Is it your escape? Maybe you want to emulate your favourite action hero or be your best for beach season… whatever your reason, hold on to it. Tightly! Having that purpose makes hitting your goal so much easier…
BUT! Having purpose is just half the battle. There’s one overlooked approach which will streamline your fitness journey and will maximise the effort you put in – the concept of specificity – i.e. taking any relevant fitness fundamental or variable and ensuring they are implemented totally specific to you, your goal and your timescale.
Variables to consider making specific could include; your training split, recovery time, set & rep range, workout duration, rest periods, diet, meal timings, food types, supplement inclusion, mental endurance & fatigue etc etc. Any one of these variables can influence your performance both inside and out of the gym, and will all have a direct effect on progress and results.
Let’s just explore a much discussed variable here; exercise range of motion.
An effective range of motion has a great impact on encouraging maximum muscle growth. But what is a full, or crucially ‘effective’, range of motion? We are led to believe working the muscle in its entirety in a ‘flex to stretch’ fashion will give the best results for muscle hypertrophy.
However, some may argue that an optimal range shouldn’t involve any full contraction or extension as this will temporarily decrease the resistance demands on the working muscle.
So what is best for you? Take this fitness fundamental and make it specific to you. Experiment and see what gives you the best results. Personally I like to work to a full stretch and flex on most reps – of course it’s nice to play around with tension, range and resistance – but stretching the muscle and fully contracting it gives me consistent results. This approach also helps keep form tight and helps prevent any half rep Harry’s from making an appearance!
It’s important not to over complicate the fitness journey – but establishing what works, and what doesn’t work, for you can save time and effort in the long run. It’s a fantastic way to optimise and fine tune your whole fitness experience!