The tips I most often share with our clients are tips on how to get to the gym, how to stay consistent, or how to eat better. All of these are essential to obtain great results in our effort towards better health and wellness. But what about those people whose nutrition and exercise consistency are dialed in, yet hit a plateau in the process?
Sometimes I sense clients think we’re just being nitpicky when we correct their hand or foot position. But all this “nitpicking” has a purpose. For instance, changing the hand grip or the way your palm is facing during a lift can change the whole dynamic of the exercise, hitting the muscle in different area, or changing the muscles you are targeting all together.
Take the bench press for instance. The bench press is designed to target the pectorals major, or the chest muscles. A standard grip which is most common does just that; it targets the pectorals major. But narrow or reverse your grip and you are now putting most of the stress on the triceps (the muscles in the back of your upper arms).
Squats are no different. Squats use all upper leg muscles, but mostly the quadriceps, which are the four muscles that make up the muscles above the knee. To take a wider stance is to target the rectus femoris and the gluteus medius, and the vastus lateralis found on the outside of the leg. A narrower stance will target the vastus medialis as well as the gracilis and gluteus maximus, found on the inside of the leg. This changes the whole dynamic of the exercise, just by changing how far apart your feet are.
All technical jargon aside, what does this mean for you in the gym? If you have hit a plateau and are having a hard time busting through, try changing things up on your muscles. Confuse them a little, try some new exercises, or even do an exercise you have done before but change your grip, stance or reverse the movement. This will give periodization (the planned process of introducing new movements) the chance to work its magic. This is something us at Fitness Together know about (you know… it’s about those ASPIRE phases we’re always talking about). So when it looks like we are being nitpicky, know we’re just keeping you on track to better results.