Resistance training is the only form of exercise you can utilize to achieve just about any fitness goal you have. Whether you’re trying to lose fat or gain muscle or run a marathon, you can utilize resistance training somehow to get you to where you want to go.
Many people, though, stay away from resistance training because of fear of pain. You hear horror stories about your neighbor who threw his back out squatting or your sister who hurt her knee doing lunges. Outside of using too much weight, the main reason for issues like these is technique.
Having proper technique in any exercise is important. Not only do you not want to get hurt, you only want to make sure you getting the most benefit out of the exercise that you can and strengthening the areas of the body that you’re supposed to be strengthening. So it’s always important to start any new exercise by ingraining proper technique before you start going up in weight.
A great way to teach yourself technique is by slowing the movement down. A smarter person than myself once said “In the beginning, it’s important how fast you can do an exercise, it’s important how slow you can do it well”. This is why we teach a lot of our exercises using eccentric emphasis.
Eccentric emphasis simply means that you emphasize (move slowly through) the eccentric part of the exercise, or the “stretching” part of the exercise. For instance, if you’re bench pressing, the eccentric part of the movement is lowering the bar to your chest. This is when you are stretching the chest muscles (the muscles you’re working during the bench press). Consequently, this is also the strongest part of any movement. Training the eccentric part of an exercise will not only teach you how to perform it better, it will also make you much stronger, much quicker in the process.
Our exercise of the week this week is Rear Foot Elevated Squats with Eccentric Emphasis (RFE from here on). These are also known as Bulgarian Squats. RFE Squats are the progression from Offset Split Squats, last week’s exercise. RFE Squats are harder than Split Squats because you are taking a point of contact off the ground. Any time you lose a point a contact, your emphasis on stability increases (notice how easy it is to stand there on 2 legs? Now pick one leg and stand there for 60 seconds and let me know how you feel. That’s losing a contact point).
This is a great exercise to develop leg and hip strength as well as overall body function (and will make you really, really tired). You can utilize the offset position, as in the Offset Split Squat from last week, or hold a weight in each hand. Just remember to concentrate on the eccentric part of the movement while you’re learning. Technique is everything when it comes to staying away from injury and getting the most bang for your buck.