When choosing an exercise to include in your program design one of the most important components, out the ten observational essentials, is to determine what the body’s position will be during the exercise. For example, if you intend to train your pectoral muscles with dumbbells or a barbell, where your body is positioned in space and time is critical.
This is due to the fact that you must be opposite of gravity in order to effectively train the pectoral muscles with free weights. The pectoral muscles must be opposite of gravity (i.e. body position is supine—chest facing the ceiling) in order to overload the muscle group. Consequently, you will not be able to effectively train the pectorals with free weights in a standing position as this will load up the deltoids far more than the pectoral muscles due to the body’s position.
Now, if you are training with resistive tubing, TRX Suspension System or RIP Trainer, your body position, in terms of the relationship with gravity will vary. You may train the pectoral muscles very effectively in a standing position with resistive tubing because the resistance tubing is “pulling” against you. However, the body’s position in this case will need to be facing away from the anchor point of the tubing, TRX Suspension System or RIP Trainer so that you are pushing load away from the anchor point thereby engaging the pectoral muscles effectively.
Below are four tips on how to determine what your body position must be in order to effectively train specific muscle groups. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
Determine what the location of the muscle/muscle group is first. Is the muscle group anterior, posterior, lateral or medial? Is the muscle group an upper body or lower body muscle group? In the example above of the pectorals, this is an anterior muscle group that is responsible for performing pushing movements. Consider how you would push a load effectively with the pectorals.
Consequently, if training the pectoral muscles, you will need to lie supine when training with free weights, face away from anchor points when training with resistive tubing, TRX Suspension System, RIP Trainer or cable/pulley systems.
When training with the TRX Suspension System, body weight is the load that you are displacing. Consequently, in the example of training the pectoral muscles, you would face away from your anchor point and the closer to the floor your body’s weight (i.e., load) is positioned the more challenge will be placed upon the pectoral muscles. If you were training the latissimus dorsi (i.e., the wide part of the back), you would want to face your anchor point and, the closer your position is in relationship to the floor, the more load will be placed upon the lats.
Determine the correct and most effective line of pull for each exercise. Thinking back to tip #3 above, the more direct the line of pull is established, the more load is placed upon the muscle/muscle group thereby eliciting a greater amount of work. Therefore, if you are attempting to strengthen your lats, performing an inverted row with the TRX Suspension System, you would want to position your sternum directly underneath the anchor point above you.