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The Importance of Perfect Reps – Part Two
Written By : Chuck Halbakken
Filed In : Articles

In part one, I discussed the SAID principle, the three stages of motor learning, and the four elements of efficiency. Now it’s time to take this knowledge and turn it into perfect reps. Bear in mind, I cannot cover every example, for every exercise in every sport, so I will give examples from different sports on each point.
The first thing to decide is; what is the purpose of the exercise? What is the target? Neural warm up? Dynamic joint mobility? Brute strength? Explosive Strength? Strength Endurance? Sport Specific? Once the target has been identified, pick the BEST exercise to meet your goal. You are about to make a time investment in your training, choose wisely, and always go for the greatest return on your time investment. This is the most common mistake I see as a trainer, clients ask; what do you think of this exercise, “It really kicks my butt”? Isn’t it great? My question is always the same, what is the target? Are you accomplishing your goals?
The second point is mental, are you present? You have to have total concentration and be fully engaged in the exercise to get optimum results. Remember your time investment! Stop thinking about anything except what you are doing. I don’t want to rant, but this needs to be said. I don’t think as a society, we are more prone to ADD than in previous years, I simply believe that we multi-task so frequently and rarely focus on one task at a time that we have lost the skill to focus, and are really good at the multi-tasking (SAID principle). Go to a “mainstream” gym and watch people “doing cardio” on a treadmill, listening to music on an ipod, and watching the news on CNN, all while reading a newspaper. I rest my case, end of rant.

Now that you have chosen the best exercise, do you know how the correct form should look and feel? Do you know how to perform the movement correctly? If you do, great, have someone qualified coach you through the movement, and you are off to a great start. If this is the case, take advantage of it. If you don’t, you need to hire someone qualified to teach the movement. Don’t just hire a personal trainer; hire a trainer or coach with competence in the exercises you want to execute. Check the trainer’s testimonials; are the clients saying how nice they are, or are they bragging about the results they realized from the training. Look for comments like, he/she insists on precise technique, I have never seen results like this so fast & etc. If all else fails, you can buy a DVD and film yourself to see how you compare. The main problem is that DVD’s are not interactive. Keep your reps low to avoid “grooving” a poor movement. Remember, you are looking for perfect reps.
At this point, you need to keep your reps low as you are in the cognitive phase of motor learning which requires much more thought for the movement, it is more fatiguing because you not only have to “think” your way through every move, you are probably not maintaining dynamic postural alignment, breathing correctly, and are probably carrying too much tension, In other words you are not moving efficiently. So keep your reps low, rest for three or four minutes between sets, and use a fairly light weight, gripper, etc. If you are a runner, keep your relative distances short.
For example sprint @ 60% for 50 meters, not 100% for 200 meters, or run at 60% for 4 miles, not 100% for 15 miles. WORK on FORM, this should be your focus at this time. It may not be the most fun, but this is necessary to improve. You will notice, the people who are fond of saying, “good enough” are the athletes who typically do not improve. If you want to improve in any skill, you must work to improve your weak areas more than you work on your strengths. Remember, you are learning a new skill, are cognitive in the new skill, and if you lose concentration/focus you will revert to whatever movement you are autonomous, and I’m thinking that you are not changing the movement because it was perfect. I will finish-up with part three next week.
Train smart
Stay safe
Remember….”Everything is a choice”
Chuck Halbakken
Level Four Z-Health Professional

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Written By Chuck Halbakken
Chuck Halbakken is a kettlebell instructor, gym owner and one of the strongest guys you'll ever meet. Swing by his blog for his thoughts on strength, and details of a truly extraordinary gym.
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