Most of us take coordination for granted, since it’s a skill we’re all born with. However, in order to maximize our efficiency in this area, we have to consistently work towards enhancing it. This is especially true when it comes to daily exercise, especially if you’re using the Aaptiv app.
“Coordination involves many systems in the body working in harmony to complete or execute a task, and requires your brain and your body to have a good relationship in order to complete simple and complex physical tasks,” says Roger E. Adams, Ph.D., personal trainer, doctor of nutrition, and owner of eatrightfitness.
What’s more: Poor coordination in the gym can lead to injury. “If you attempt a weight lifting move and you are not ready for the movement and do not have the developed coordination to execute it safely, you can hurt yourself by dropping a weight on your body, straining a muscle group, or even throwing out your back,” Dr. Adams explains. “Additionally, good coordination allows you to focus on the movement of exercise better, which translates into better mind-muscle connections and a much stronger workout.”
In short, better coordination translates to a better workout and a better physical condition overall. Here are some of the ways you can boost your coordination in the gym.
Perform full-body exercises
Exercises that require you to work out your entire body will help enhance your coordination, notes Dr. Adams. “While bicep curls are nice, it doesn’t take much coordination to do them,” he says. He recommends using compound movements, like squats, deadlifts, burpees, push-ups, bent over rows, and lunges. “The more muscle you use, the more effort your body has to go through to coordinate all of the systems involved,” he adds.
Balance on your hands and knees
While this might sound like a simple exercise (and it is!), it can go a long way in boosting your mind-body coordination. It challenges the body to find stability and strength through minimal, yet focused movement, notes Ana Macias, Director of Fitness Programming at MNTSTUDIO in San Francisco. “This exercise provides a cross-body balance challenge, where the opposite arm and leg are reaching far from your center of gravity,” she says. To do this exercise, come down to your hands and knees on the mat, take a deep inhale, stretch your right arm forward and your left leg back behind you and maintain a neutral spine.
On the exhale, bend your right elbow and left knee towards one another and curl your spine into a ball; repeat 12-16 times. Extend your right arm forward and left leg back one final time with a flat back, and hold this position for 30 seconds. Then, repeat this on the other side.
Focus on good form
Dr. Adams reminds all of his beginning weight lifters that their form is more important than the weight they’re lifting. Essentially, if you learn to lift with bad form, not only are you more likely to get injured, but you also risk never reaching your full potential in the gym. “The only way to get good form [is] to practice with lighter weights, or even just the bar or bodyweight,” he says. “Thinking about the movement as you’re doing it, and feeling the right muscles working will lead to better awareness of your body.”
For other form-enhancing exercises, try yoga or walking with Aaptiv.
Take a look in the mirror
You shouldn’t feel narcissistic staring at your body in the gym mirror, as this can be a valuable tool in increasing your coordination. “When doing a simple lift, use lighter weights, face the mirror straight on, and watch closely how you move the weight through the entire movement,” advises Dr. Adams. “Once you really get the movements down, you should be able to close your eyes and do the same movement.” When doing this, however, he suggests lifting light weights so that you don’t get hurt.
Incorporate stability exercises into every workout
Stability exercises help encourage balance and coordination, which is why they should always play a fundamental role in your Aaptiv workout. You can do this by using a Swiss ball. “Just sit on it and do small figure 8s with your hips while maintaining an erect spine [for] a great start,” says Dr. Adams. “Then you can progress to twists on the ball, using dumbbells for presses, [and] even doing leg workouts using the stability ball [to] really increase your lower-body coordination.”