How To 'Turn On' Your Muscles And Tune Out Distractions!

Are your goals clear for the workout today? Learn why warm-up can be so important in preparing for a session and what some of the most effective exercises are ... Check it out!
In order to get the most out of your training, it is imperative to focus on the goal and challenge yourself each and every time.

With ten million things going on in your life and distractions everywhere, that is easier said than done. Oftentimes my clients come in and are often distracted and unfocused. When this occurs I use a specific strategy that you can apply today.

Focus Strategy

While you warm-up on the treadmill, the first step is to actually slow down and realize that there is no need to rush. Then revisit your purpose for being here today. Why are you doing this? What is it that you are determined to achieve?

What's Your Goal? What Is Your Goal?

Is Your Goal Not Listed?
Click Below To Learn More About Goal Setting.

You can either go halfa$$ and waste valuable time, or you can get focused and move another step closer to your desired goal. It's up to you - both take the same amount of time. This decision is made while warming-up.

The Dynamic Warm-Up

Next, the goal is to get you to be totally focused on the present moment - on what is happening right now. Stress is created when you worry about future events which you have no control over in the present moment. Only by focusing on exactly what you are doing right here and right now can you maximize results.

The dynamic warm-up is more intense than the treadmill and involves the use of what I call "Oh, Sh*t!" exercises. These exercises force you to focus on what you are doing right now.

The Most Effective Exercises Make You Say, "Oh, Sh*t!"

    In order to activate a muscle, the brain must first generate an electrical impulse called an excitation which is transmitted down the spinal cord and out a nerve. When the electrical impulse reaches the end of the nerve then a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine is released that initiates muscle contraction. The point to take home here is that it all starts in your head.

The Central Nervous System.
The human central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord. These lie in the midline of the body and are protected by the skull and vertebrae respectively.

This collection of billions of neurons is arguably the most complex object known.

The central nervous system along with the peripheral nervous system comprise a primary division of controls that command all physical activities of a human.

Neurons of the central nervous system affect consciousness and mental activity while spinal extensions of central nervous system neuron pathways affect skeletal muscles and organs in the body.

    Different exercises recruit different degrees of muscle activation. The greater the perceived risk of pain, injury or death, the greater the number of muscle fibers activated ... the greater the "Oh, Sh*t!" Factor.

How To Determine The "Oh, Sh*t!" Factor Exercises

     1. "I Could Fall And Break My Head Open - Oh, Sh*t!"

    These are the "anytime the body moves through space" exercises. These utilize more than one joint and are often referred to as compound exercises.

    Compound exercises performed in a challenging manner produce greater amounts of testosterone and growth hormone (HGH) than single joint movements like curls, kickbacks and knee extensions.

What Is HGH?
HGH stands for Human Growth Hormone (also known as Somatotropin), an amino acid produced in the pituitary gland of the brain. HGH plays an important role in human development by affecting skeletal growth.

HGH levels are high during childhood, and peak at adolescence. During puberty, HGH levels determine height and bone size. After puberty, HGH levels start to decline, and by age 61 decrease to 20% of what they were at age 21.

HGH is continually produced throughout the human lifecycle, and continues to regulate the body's metabolism.

     2. "I Could Drop The Weight And Bust Myself Up - Oh, Sh*t!"

    These are exercises that utilize more than one joint and are performed with dumbbells (hand weights) or barbells. Since dumbbells require more balance, there is greater muscle recruitment. Thus, dumbbells have a greater 'Oh, Sh*t!' factor than the same exercises performed with a barbell.

    Example dumbbell exercises:

Click To Enlarge.
Right Before Gene Rychalk's Failed Bench Press
At The 2005 Olympia.

Gene Rychalk Video:
Windows Media (3.8 MB)
MPEG (13.4 MB)

     3. "I Don't Need No Stinking Spot - Oh, Sh*t!"

    Compound movements with cables. Cable machines are great because they move with your individual body's natural arc, and keep constant tension on the muscle. I love the equipment manufactured by FreeMotion Fitness.

    Example cable exercises:

     4. "I Wonder What I Should Do After My Workout - Oh, Sh*t!"

    These exercises do not demand your full attention while performing them since the machine dictates the motion for you. There is less muscle activation and oftentimes more stress on the joints.

Does Your Mind Wander When Lifting?

Yes - All The Time.
Sometimes - Depends On The Exercise.
No - I'm Focused.

    These are compound movements on machines. Machines do have certain benefits such as being able to hit certain muscle groups with greater precision. They do have their place. However, they should not be the mainstay in any program.

    Example machine exercises:

     5. "Girly Mon - Oh, Sh*t!"

    These are exercises that are "all show, very little go." These are single joint exercises performed with DBs, BBs or machines.

    They are not bad, but since they recruit the least amount of muscle, they are at the bottom of the list. These exercises are great when you need to hit specific areas and can play a pivotal role when employing advanced training principles such as drop sets, supersets, and slower tempo training.

What Are Drop Sets And Supersets?
A drop set is a set where you do as many reps as you can with a certain weight, then immediately lower the weight and do more reps. There should be as little rest as possible between sets.

A superset is the alternating back and forth between two (or more) exercises until the prescribed number of sets is complete, usually with no rest between exercises. There are various types of supersets, however.

Find more definitions in our glossary.

A Note On Balance Training

Training with balance tools such as stability balls, balance boards and other unstable equipment is a great strategy to employ as part of the dynamic warm-up.

Be careful, however, not to use excessive amounts of weight. Challenge yourself to the point where you struggle to maintain the exercise but do not take it to total fatigue. The risk of injury would certainly exceed the benefit.

Stay Strong,
Billy Beck III