This is a rough guide to estimate how optimal your current exercise routine is.
Fits all criteria of Level 3, yet striving and finding ways to improve almost every workout some aspect of: technique, focus, muscular involvement, degree of fatigue, and/or intensity.
A. Speed- moving slow enough to stop in any position of rep (roughly 10 seconds each direction). Never rushed, always deliberate, and it feels like one continuous effort of the targeted muscles from start to finish of each exercise.
B. Focus- deep concentration on inroading muscles as opposed to doing more reps (eyes are likely closed much of the time). Breathing and focusing too hard from the moment the exercise begins to be able to talk at all.
C. Face and hands relaxed, no squinting or clenching of teeth,
D. Breathing- deep diaphragm breathing that becomes quicker as inroad becomes greater. Noticeably out of breath after each exercise and after the workout.
E. Emotional- “zen-like” state where all sensations in the muscle are just interesting feedback, and calmly able to apply 100% effort, even after the weight stops moving. No anxiety or fear prior to workouts. Complete confidence in allowing muscles to do whatever they are capable of on any given day.
F. Duration: hitting physical inability to move in less than 2 minutes on most exercises (no longer able to get to 3 minutes or even 2 minutes), then exerting 100% muscular effort for a full 10 seconds after movement stops.
A. Speed- moving slowly but not slow enough to stop in any position
B. Focus- pushing close to fatigue but stopping before full fatigue is reached (as evidenced by lack of pushing of weight after movement has ceased). Unable to talk from halfway into the exercise on, even if you wanted to.
C. Form- face and hands tensing as fatigue gets deeper
D. Breathing- slow and steady deep diaphragm breathing at start but becomes a little to chaotic as full inroad nears
E. Emotional- Trying really hard but not completely calm and relaxed. Thinking “this is really painful” and hoping it is over soon. The end of each exercise seems more like pain than sensation. Mind is encountering hurdles, and is fatiguing before the muscles are truly fatigued. Perhaps encountering a fear of hard effort before each workout.
F. Duration: Some exercises can no longer be continued all the way to 3 minutes
A. Speed- need to train much slower, not slow enough to be efficient or even safe
B. Focus- able to talk constantly during the exercise
C. Form- face tense and hands tense and not still
D. Breathing- shallow chest breaths or val salva
E. Emotional- the exercises feel either “fine” or like a bit of a struggle.
F. Duration: all exercises can be performed for 3 minutes or longer
Some other considerations to work toward optimal:
Targeted muscles engaged fully enough to be “tremoring” during the exercise
Sufficient work done during the exercise to raise levels of lactic acid and carbonic acid within the muscles, which triggers your body to breath heavily to expel carbon dioxide (carbonic acid). Being “out of breath” may continue for several minutes or more after the workout.
Sufficient work to cause an elevated heart rate for up to several minutes or more after a workout.
Rest period of less than 30 seconds from the moment muscles unload (set the weight down) from one exercise until the moment the muscles load on the next exercise.
Sufficient work being performed that enough heat is generated to necessitate wearing t-shirt and shorts, and having the fan pointed on you from the very first exercise to prevent overheating and sweating.
Workout frequency never longer than 7-8 days apart. Doing home-based workout any time travel prevents a workout within 7 days. Never “skipping a week” (going 14+ days between workouts).