By Sammy Cusimano
Fitness is all mental, plain and simple. Everything breaks down to focus, concentration, motivation, discipline and visualization. In order to stay interested in exercising, it is completely necessary to have the right mental attitude and the right awareness of techniques to stay safe as you pursue your fitness goals.
As a personal trainer, one of the biggest challenges is helping a client to learn the proper technique of an exercise as simply as possible. The best way to convey the right message is through visualization. Helping to create a picture in a person’s mind of how their body should be positioned will facilitate their progress and understanding of the techniques.
Here are some very effective visualization examples that help to perfect exercise form:
Squats- “Eyes to the sky”
Squats are one of the all-around best exercises for the body. They not only work out legs but also the entire core and even the upper torso muscles. It’s so important to perfect the right technique on the exercise though because it can be dangerous if the body is not aligned properly.
The best way to ensure that the spine is not curved is to find a spot on either the ceiling or the top of a wall and focus on it through the upward and downward motion. It’s perfectly fine to stare straight ahead to check the balance of the body at the full standing position, but by using the “eyes to the sky” technique the back will be in the right position during the crucial parts of the movement.
Seated Rows- “Coffee cup on the shoulder”
Seated rows are a great exercise for building the “wings” of the back muscles (latissimus dorsi). It is very important not to curve the lower back while doing the exercise though. A great visualization technique to keep the back straight is to imagine there is a cup of coffee glued to the top of each shoulder.
If the shoulders hunch forward at any point during the exercise, the coffee will spill. If the shoulders stay in the correct position , then the coffee will remain in the cups and the hips will allow the motion of the exercise rather than the lower back.
Bicep curls- “Crack the walnut”
Bicep curls are one of the first weight exercises many people start with when beginning a fitness routine. They are a simple motion, but typically not done with enough emphasis on the contraction of the bicep muscle.
Imagine that there is a walnut wedged on the inside of each arm between the forearm and bicep. As the arm raises for the curl motion visualize cracking the walnut as tight as possible for a few seconds before lowering the arm again. Use very light weight because one of these repetitions is much more exhausting than a faster pace bicep curl motion with very little contraction of the muscle. The “crack the walnut” technique could be the missing link in your arm workout that will get the biceps growing like never before.
Upright Rows- “Lift the grocery bag”
Upright rows are essential for great shoulders. The main aspect of the exercise is that the elbows must be higher than the wrists in the high position. Sometimes the path of the motion is difficult to get the hang of because the forearms try to take over the exercise.
Visualize that the weight is a heavy bag of groceries that is being lifted out of a basket. Focus on the elbows always being higher than the wrists until the weight is at chest level. Upright rows will help develop strong posture and also tone the trapezius and rear deltoid muscles.
Visualization helps with perfecting exercise techniques as well as personal motivation. When it is easy to skip the gym due to cold weather or your alarm going off before the sun is even up, remember to see yourself the way you would like to be in two months, then six months and 12 months.
Tell yourself that you can only become the new version of yourself by staying disciplined and forcing yourself to step out of your comfort zone and seize the day. Visualize who you want to be and then do what you owe to yourself every day.
The results will take care of themselves!
Sammy Cusimano is the founder of Genesys Training based out of New Orleans, LA and has been a professional trainer since 2001. His experience with training clients ranges from competitive athletes to senior citizens. Cusimano’s goal as a trainer is to help clients safely reach their fitness potential and become the best version of themselves for overall health and wellness.