A rep that doesn’t cause stimulus is just energy expenditure and unnecessary fatigue.
You could have the best, most perfectly designed program in the world… but that absolutely doesn’t guarantee adaptations or results.
The QUALITY of work done is going to dictate whether you’re just creating a new stimulus in the body, or simply create energy expenditure through body movement while accumulating unnecessary fatigue. If you want consistent progress and a polished final product with your physical changes, you want to make sure the quality is there and the stimulus is being made.
“The absent body of developed muscle is indicative of the absence of mind.” - Kai Greene
This is why as an online coach weekly video footage of my clients is crucial as the way someone performs exercises will influence program design to an extent. In most cases it’s smart to keep the volume low, to begin and work on the quality of movements, efficiency, and execution. Once we know the quality of the work is there, we begin to add training volume, we know we’re going to see changes. Not just accumulate more fatigue. The purpose of training is the STIMULATION of muscle growth, not hitting PR’s. If PR’s are achieved it’s a result of consistent training and technique development.
The importance of exercise execution is something that 1000% goes over most people's heads.
1. How a movement pattern is performed
2. How we complete a plan of action or course of motion
3. The specific stress a muscle is receiving
Some people will argue that movement execution isn't important, but I’d argue that it’s one of the main variables that prevent people from progressing in the gym. IMPROPER execution is going to decrease the effectiveness of the training stimulus and increase the risk of injury.
We tend to think that adding more load (weight) or increasing the sets, or reps will provide us with the biggest gains over time. Which is true bc #ProgressiveOverload but MORE isn’t always the answer.
When you end up doing MORE reps/sets just to get the same stimulus (had you been performing movements correctly) that can translate to excess fatigue/disrupted recovery. The bottom line is it’s not very efficient, or practical.
Proper execution will place the power in your hands to apply the maximum amount of tension on the target muscle group. The more tension, the more muscle tissue will be active... When it comes to resistance training, we need to understand how to get tension where we want to maximize intensity/tension/sustain that tension.
Neurologically, the brain/muscles coordinate contractions of all muscles acting on any loaded joints. When a weakness is created from a weak chain the body compensates by recruiting other muscles to compensate for the weakness. The nervous system will then direct other muscles to start supporting the movement as secondary movers even if it's inefficient.
If you’re a beginner the combination of proper execution and appropriate intensity FOR ANY exercise will help you achieve the stimulus needed for adaptations. You can only run through the motions for so long before you have to refine your approach.
The body naturally adapts to learning movements unconsciously. Similar to throwing a ball, after you have done it a few times, you do it without thinking. If you creep through Instagram or YouTube, you’ll see an endless amount of people doing things like lunges, rows, from compound to isolation movements, etc.. The percentage of videos showing technical mastery of these exercises is incredibly scarce.
How you execute a movement, your intent going into it, arm path, are variables that are going to dictate what you’re actually targeting in any exercise. From beginner to advanced it’s important to self-audit your execution. As a beginner, your threshold is incredibly low, which is why even the worst program, with terrible execution, can result in ‘beginner’ or termed ‘noob’ gains. As you train for longer, the threshold for stimulating muscle growth increases because our muscles adapt and become more efficient- this is when most people start thinking ‘more volume’ is the only way to progress, yet their execution is still lack-luster.
If you can’t perform an exercise correctly, there is always a regression you can use to improve the skills needed to perform that movement perfectly. Focus on efficient exercise selection, proper execution/technique, taking each set to a close proximity to failure (knowing what true technical failure feels like), then you earn the right to start progressing through other training variables.