Principles of Exercise Execution

One word, FROMC2ONS2! Well, an acronym for 6 terms actually, each a principle of exercise execution, or simply POE.

If you’re not applying these principles when you exercise, you’re either not getting the full benefit of the exercise and / or you’re bound to injure yourself.

Think about and use these principles to guide you when you exercise. It’s also a great tool to help determine progressions.

Form

This one you’ve heard of and most people know what it refers to. Form is simply executing the exercise with your body in the appropriate position and posture.

Bad form is primarily caused by a weak core, poor body awareness or doing exercises / progressions that are too difficult for your level of strength.

Remember, doing something more difficult with poor form is going to be less beneficial than doing something easier with good form!

Range of Motion

Might have heard this too, but now we’re starting to move into “never heard / thought about it” territory.

Range of Motion is executing an exercise through full range of motion. Your range of motion should be determined by:

  • Injury or weakness
  • Equipment (including the floor)
  • Anatomy / bio-mechanically

Example: a push-up should be done to the point where you touch the floor when doing it on the floor, or, when you’ve reached your anatomical range of motion when doing it on a parallette. So you don’t stop the push-up when you feel like it.

Range of motion is so important; strength through your full range of motion makes you truly functionally fit. In real life, movement and strength is often required at the extents of your range of motion, if you don’t have it there, you’re not going to be able to use your strength (best case scenario) or you’re going to get injured!

It is an important injury proofing strategy. Many injuries occur when your limbs are taken beyond the range of motion that you train in. Muscle tears and tendon tears are common if you have poor range of motion.

Completion

Particularly applicable to skills and other technical movement.

You have to be able to complete the skill or movement, if you’re unable to, revert to a progression of the skill / movement or first work on the components that are preventing you from successfully executing the skill / movement.

Control

You must be able to control your body and be deliberate in the action that you’re performing. If you’re not doing that, you’ll probably find many exercises that aren’t necessarily easy, easy.

For example: if you do a push-up and on the way down you simply fall onto the floor, you’re not controlling the eccentric (negative) part of the exercise and thus you’re not doing half of the exercise.

Using elasticity to “bounce” out of the bottom of an exercise is a common way to “cheat”. You’re not getting stronger this way, and the continuous jerking action is going to create micro-tears in your tendons over the long term and cause niggles and stress injuries.

Stealth

Yes, this is a strange one! This ties into control, but deserves its own principle to reinforce the idea.

If you’re not being quiet, you’re not in control of your body! Stealth is primarily applicable to plyometric / explosive exercises. Again, if you’re not being quiet, you’re not using your muscles to absorb impact, your tendons, ligaments and joints are doing that. Over the long term, this will lead to injuries!

Ever listen to people landing box jumps, does it sounds like elephants are walking around? Well, it shouldn’t, in fact, you shouldn’t really be hearing those landings at all!

Stealth is about using your muscles to absorb impact, but you have to recruit your brain here as well, without proprioception (awareness of your body in movement and in space), you cannot be stealthy.

So being quiet means you’re working harder with your muscles and your brain, win win.

Symmetry

Most people are not symmetrically strong or flexible. Being out of balance is a major cause of stress injuries.

If one side is doing more, it will get over worked and you will get injured. Once that side is injured, the weaker side will take over and get over worked and injured. And so the cycle continues and you can’t figure out what’s going on!

The answer is simple, be mindful when you exercise. Learn to be aware of your body and adjust form and range of motion accordingly, so that you execute exercises symmetrically.

Now you might say we do exercises that are non-symmetrical, yes, we do those and you should too, but we do them on “both sides” and thus having done two non-symmetrical exercises on opposing sides, we’ve trained the recruited muscles symmetrically (you might need to read over that one more time)!

Also, work towards being symmetrically mobile and flexible, static stretching is a great indicator of imbalances!

Now that you know what good exercise execution principles are, there’s no excuse! Remember them, but most importantly, follow them!

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