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Lifting hack: external cues

Expert insight:

Internal cues focus on the anatomical actions that have to take place for you to perform a rep. During a deadlift, for example, they could include “engage your pecs” or “extend your elbows.”

While those are valid prompts, research shows that external cues—such as “squeeze the bar" for deadlifts, "press into the floor" for squats, and "push the bar towards the ceiling" for overhead and bench presses—are far better at promoting speed, strength, power, endurance, and coordination, he says.

The benefits may come from the fact that external cues are more concrete and natural than internal cues are. In turn, you’ll spend less mental focus on activating a particular muscle and more on execution.

The bottom line:

External cues help you train more efficiently and with better form. Use them during every session, and especially when you’re learning a new move.

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