Over the next few weeks I would like to discuss the top 10 mistakes people make when they exercise. Here is mistake number one:
Targeting specific muscles.
This is a very common misconception that we need to isolate muscles when we are training. Here are a few reasons why we have adopted this approach to our training. The first reason is weight loss. People would like to lose weight for example in their upper arms and therefore want exercises that will target specific muscles on the arm. This is called spot reduction. It has been proven scientifically that this does not work. The second reason is aesthetics. We all want certain muscles on our bodies to look in shape and therefore we focus directly on these key aesthetic muscles particularly the abdominals. The third reason is we feel a particular muscle in our body is weak and so in order to strengthen it we need to focus on it and find exercises or machines that are specifically designed to target this muscle.
The body’s natural response to initiating a movement is to select a sequence of muscles to perform a specific movement or task. When we target a muscle we train the brain to focus on selecting only that muscle instead of a whole sequence of other muscles that should be involved and this strains the muscle and negatively affects the surrounding muscles and joints. This idea of isolating muscles also has created a huge market for creating gym machines that target specific muscles. I strongly recommend using machines or doing exercises that target more than one muscle at a time. Generally these are referred to as functional exercises.
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