If you read a lot of fitness articles, watch fitness videos or have worked with a trainer, odds are you’ve heard the recommendation to “squeeze your muscles” during a workout. And while many of us already do this during resistance training exercises, we might not all know why we should be heeding this advice.
Below are three of the main reasons why you should be “squeezing” your muscles when lifting weights.
1. You see better results
Whether the results you’re looking for are increased strength, improved muscle function, or muscle growth, you want to get the biggest results for your time and effort. When you focus on squeezing your muscles, your brain sends more signals to those muscles which in turn trigger the metabolic processes that lead to improved muscle health and strength.
Focusing on the muscle you’re working and engaging it while you do doesn’t just keep you using proper form, but actually maximizes the results of your workout.
2. You’re less likely to get injured
While we all know the familiar mantra, “no pain, no gain,” nobody goes to the gym with the goal of getting injured. We work out so that our bodies will function and feel as good as possible. The more you can reduce your risk for injury, the better you will be able to continue on the road to meeting your fitness goals.
Both squeezing the muscle you are working and focusing your attention on that muscle reduces the risk of injury while lifting. If you protect your muscle and surrounding tissue by squeezing it and staying in the zone for the whole set, the only pain you should be feeling is the strength-building burn you’re after.
3. You move at a slower pace
When you squeeze your muscles while exercising, you have no choice but to move slower. Slowing down your movement has a few different benefits. First, you reduce your risk of injury and are better able to maintain proper form. Lifting more slowly also makes your workout more efficient and leads to better results.
If you find you’re the slowest-moving person at the gym, remember that that means you’re doing something right. Speeding through your workout might get you home faster, but it won’t deliver the same results.
Next time you’re lifting and reminding yourself to “squeeze,” remember that you’re not just doing it because your trainer told you to, but because it really does give you better results. By reducing your risk of injury and maximizing the return on your efforts you can ensure that every workout is bringing you closer to your goals.