Bro, Do You Even Activate?

Sometimes it's funny to observe different stuff that goes on in the gym. One thing that sticks out to me is when you see the more experienced lifters doing an exercise like bicep curls using far less weight than the younger kids. It all comes down to body awareness and getting the right muscles to activate. Something, very few of us do.

Getting the right muscles to work is extremely important. If you can't get your core braced and your booty rocking while doing a squat, your back is probably going to end up folding faster than Kenny Rogers during a bad round of 5 Card Stud.

Even when stretching, if you can't get the right muscles working you might as well flop around like a sea lion. 

The easy part is knowing that you need to build body awareness, the hard part is doing it. This is why you need to check your ego at the door and do "low level", "easy" exercises like glute bridges or planks. 

While they seem easy to the unactivated populace, truth is they can actually be very challenging when performed correctly. Shoot, even breathing correctly can be difficult for many of us. 

While anecdotal, I find building the body awareness that is needed to get the core and glutes working helps as you grow to understand how to "feel" other muscles turning on. The goal then becomes getting to the point that you don't have to think about it and then can just move freely. Unfortunately, many of us have a ways to go. 

1. Glute Bridges - We'll start with this exercise because it's actually a little bit easier to perform. Lay on your back with your feet flat and knees bent. Push your low back into the ground by blowing all your air out. Almost like your blowing out candles on a birthday cake. After you get this position you can begin breathing again, but don't lose the position. Next you're going to think about pushing through your heels (while keeping your whole foot on the ground), squeezing your glutes like you're trying to go to the bathroom, and bracing your abs like you're about to get punched. All at the same time, lifting your hips off the ground. Once you get to the top hold for a bit and then come back down. Rinse and repeat. 

2. Plank - Surprisingly this may end up being one of the hardest exercises you've ever done, if done right. You need to think about pulling your elbows to your toes, and your toes to your elbows while holding the plank. Squeezing your glutes, pulling your chin into your throat. And all the while doing this showing your chest to the wall in front of you. If you can do this right the only thought you should have is of not passing out. 

Start teaching your body to activate with these two exercises and then continue to carry on your new found body awareness into other exercises and realizing the effectiveness of other exercises drastically increasing.

Move well, move often, and then move some heavy weight.

-Dave