Most of my workout routines are body weight based. I love body weight drills for many reasons but the top two are: you can do them anywhere and if you are doing them right you are working your mind too. There are more balancing and alignment requirements in body weight based drills than in equipment based drills. There’s rarely something to lean on or hold your posture in position. The set up and execution of body weight exercises are crucial to getting the most out of them. The best way to master this is to slow down to get the most out of each exercise. Mindfulness is the key here.
Think about the muscles you are engaging and working. That’s the whole point of exercising, right? We are building lean muscles mass and strength, not trying to simply go through the motions and do the most reps possible.
For example: mountain climbers. Mountain climbers work your entire body when done properly.
In order to maintain proper form the upper body should line up with the shoulders directly above the wrists. Picking up the right foot the right knee drives toward the chest while the left leg remains still. The plank position is maintained as you continue to alternate knees to chest at a steady pace.
The mistake I often see is people trying to move faster than their body will allow. As people start to move too fast, their form will typically break. Hips creep up in the air and the shoulders drift back from the wrists, core engagement lessens and we put stress on our shoulders and back. Sometimes the upper body starts to move side to side trying to help the legs go faster. Often weight shifts back to the feet instead of being distributed across the body. The once efficient drill turns into a flailing mess.
Slow down. Less is more in this case. Slowing those movements down and really focusing on the core engagement as you pull a single knee toward your chest while balancing in a three point plank will take the drill to a new level for you. Moving faster is fine once you can do it mindfully and while maintaining that form.
I encourage clients to try this in front of a mirror or take a video to watch. You need to be your own critic on these to start to feel the difference in your body. Once you see the proper form and identify the feeling of it you will begin to naturally adapt to it. You may not adapt right away though, so check in on that form periodically and keep correcting it.
You will get stronger faster if you follow the correct body alignment and form cues. Working faster with poor form not only is inefficient, it is likely to lead to muscle imbalances and injuries.
Maintaining proper alignment and going slower is much more efficient than being fast with poor form. When beginning your workout take a few slow reps even if you are advanced and you always keep your form. Feel those muscles working and feel the engagement and alignment. Mindfulness of your muscles will improve your workouts while improving mental endurance and awareness.