Why You Shouldn't Skip Your Activation Set

Why You Shouldn't Skip Your <em>Activation Set</em>

Do you ever struggle to feel the muscles you’re supposed to be targeting during exercise?

We hear you, and we're here to help you feel the burn in all the right places.

Whether you’re completing a weighted session at home or in the gym, performing an activation circuit before getting into your workout will help you maximise your results throughout your training. 

What is the purpose of an activation circuit?

An activation circuit should consist of a series of exercises that help to warm up the muscles and/or muscle groups programmed for your workout ahead.

Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Personal Trainer, Dr. Tony Boutagy, says it's important to perform activation exercises prior to training, to ensure you're warmed up and getting adequate blood flow to the areas you’re going to train.

Activations also promote a neural connection between your brain and muscles, which is known as Mind To Muscle connection, (MTM), so that you're engaging and targeting the correct muscles through your movements. 

We know when you're short on time it's tempting to skip a warm up and jump straight into your session, but by taking the time to perform some activation exercises, you're preparing your body for a more effective session.

Dr. Tony Boutagy shares three of the most effective exercises to activate each of the glute muscle groups, targeting the lower glutes, middle glutes and upper glutes.

Upper Glutes - Banded Clams

Perform for 8 reps on each side.

Cues: Keep your hips stacked, open to your maximum range, and pause at the top of the movement.

Banded Clams

Middle Glutes - Level 1: Double Leg Glute Bridge

Perform for 8 reps.

Cues: Lying on your back, lift your hips to the roof while pushing through the heels. Keep your chin tucked and the glutes clenched. 

Double Leg Glute Bridges

Middle Glutes - Level 2: Single Leg Glute Bridges

Perform for 8 reps on each side.

Cues: With one leg lifted, elevate your hips towards the roof while pushing through the heels, keeping the glutes clenched.

Single Leg Glute Bridge

Lower Glutes - Split Squat

Perform for 8 reps on each side.

Cues: Stabilise yourself in a wide lunge position. Lower your back knee to ground while keeping your front heel down, and clench the glutes.

Split Squat

The purpose of activating your muscles is not to fatigue them, so make sure you perform these movements with a lighter weight selection, booty band, or bodyweight only.

When performing activations and any exercises, it's so important to consider your Mind to Muscle connection.

What is Mind to Muscle connection?

Mind to Muscle Connection is the action in which you use your mind to properly engage, contract and work a particular muscle. To perform MTM connection successfully you need to focus on deliberately and consciously activating the specified muscles.

We highly recommend reviewing the in-app exercise videos and instructions to familiarise yourself with the muscles you should be feeling and engaging when completing your exercises.

Why is Mind To Muscle connection so important?

Focusing on MTM connection will significantly improve the quality of your workouts. You'll notice the difference when you consciously focus your attention on feeling the muscles working, and this will enhance the quality of your muscle contractions and repetitions.

Another benefit of fostering MTM connection is that you'll learn to listen to your body. This helps you know when it's time to challenge yourself with a heavier weight, and also to recognise what you should and shouldn’t be feeling when performing an exercise.

Take your core for example. During an abs session it's common to hear "Why can I feel this in my legs more than my core?" or "My lower back is hurting". This is because you aren’t properly engaging the correct muscle group.

If your core isn’t properly engaged during a movement, you will often feel muscle strain or discomfort in different areas of the body, such as your lower back, hip flexors or quads; depending on which core exercise you are completing. 

To get the most out of your weighted workouts, we always recommend completing an activation circuit prior to your session to engage the specific muscles you want to target, and to help foster MTM connection. 

Ready to get moving? Head to the Workout Library in the Move With Us App to find a wide selection of activation circuits and targeted warm ups to add to your next workout session. 

Start your 7 day free trial today of the Move With Us App today to access hundreds of effective home and gym workouts, suited to all fitness levels and abilities.