May 14th, 2013

The One Thing You Can Do To Improve Your Workout: Add Intent by Erik Hansen

Over the next four weeks I’ll be profiling movement experts on how to get the most out of your workouts. This week, I’m interviewing my trainer, Erik Hansen. Erik also trains Eva Mendes, Bruce Willis and Russell Brand. While he has a celebrity clientele, he is a hidden gem. He doesn’t have a book, doesn’t really blog and doesn’t do much on social media. But he’s brilliant. We bonded over the importance the mind plays in reshaping the body.

Here’s what Erik has to say:

Too often, exercise is performed mindlessly, as a monotonous chore, but I’m convinced that adding intent and recognizing purpose when you exercise will not only make your workouts more efficient, but more enjoyable and inspired as well. I like to connect with dance because every movement is realized with intent and purpose. When a dancer moves, it’s usually with the intent to express a feeling or idea; a great dancer can make you feel something profound when he or she performs.

When your training, first understand your goals – know your purpose. When you exercise with a goal in mind, what you are doing means something to you, and you’ll push yourself more than if you just show up and go through the motions. Visualize your goals when you workout and exercise according to them, with a program that’s specific to those goals. See every stride, every class, every repetition, every squat, push-up, pull-up, or crunch as one step closer to reaching your desired destination.

Second, understand the purpose of the exercise, which muscles are to be focused on, and with intent use those muscles to move through the proper range of motion. For example, when my clients perform a bicep curl, one of the cues I give them is to engage and contract the bicep muscle to initiate the movement, that the lower arm and weight are lifted as a result of that contraction, not that the movement is working the bicep muscle. This accentuates the intent of the exercise and brings focus to the targeted muscle or muscles.

Last but not least, like a dancer, practice impeccable form. Perform each movement with beauty, with posture and control. Using correct form will greatly reduce the risk of injury as well as ensure that the intended muscles are stressed. Researchers have found that doing an exercise correctly engages more muscle fibers and builds stronger muscles, another added benefit of moving with purpose.

Think of how disappointing it would be to go to a ballet and see the dancers go through the motions, sloppy, uninspired and with no determination or enthusiasm. The experience would not be what it was meant to be. Make your movement count, make every drop of sweat that falls from your brow have consequence, make it all mean something more than some calories burned.

Check out more on Erik’s blog www.erikhansenfitness.tumblr.com – even if it’s just for the hot photos of Eva. Although Erik’s pretty cute too…