Some things in life are open to interpretation. Unfortunately, proper form in the weight room is not one of them. Take a walk through any gym and you will likely see a room full of people performing the same lifts in a slightly different manner. There is only one reason for this. Some of them are performing those lifts incorrectly.
The truth is that not everyone is a natural at lifting weights. Some of us feel awkward under the pressure of weight bearing exercise. At moments the angles are uncomfortable and there are a few too many body parts to coordinate all at once. If you find yourself nodding your head in agreement, then this article is definitely for you. If you are not nodding your head in agreement and believe that you have the weight room all figured out, then this article might still be for you. The truth is that form is important and even the most seasoned professional might need to polish things up a bit.
Executing lifts properly is important because doing so helps to prevent injury and ensures that the proper muscle is being targeted. It also ensures that said muscle is being worked to its full capacity. Spending hours in the weight room might do wonders for your ego, but without proper form it does nothing for your muscles. To more closely demonstrate this point let’s dissect a squat. A squat is meant to be performed with the chest up and out. The butt should move back and down (as if one is sitting into a chair). The knees should be positioned over the heels (never extending forward over the toes) and the legs should form a 90 degree angle at the lowest point of the exercise. Dropping the chest, or pushing the knees forward, can easily result in injury. Failing to drop low enough into your squat prevents the intended muscles from being targeted. This results in limited, if any, progress. Considering adding more weight? Don’t bother. Without proper form additional weight will do nothing.
There is no doubt that form is crucial in the weight room, but what are some tips to ensure that proper form is being executed? The first is pretty basic. Partner up. Lifting with a buddy is a great way to gain an outsider’s perspective. Often times we feel as if our form is on point when it couldn’t be further from the mark. A second pair of eyes can easily clear up the confusion and help to get us back on track.
The next tip is to bring in a trainer. Sometimes all we need is a few words of wisdom and a quick lesson on proper execution. Seeking out a trainer, even if it’s only for a single session, can be incredibly helpful. A trainer can offer pro tips, critique your form, and explain each phase of a lift in easy to understand terms. Not up for seeing a trainer on a regular basis? No problem. Just checking in with a trainer periodically can help to correct any bad habits or incorrect postures that may have developed or crept back into your lift sessions.
Another great tip is to video record yourself performing each exercise. Seeing is believing and we often do not know how bad our form is until we see it with our own eyes. Recording yourself can help you to see exactly where you need to improve and where you are spot on. It can even help you to track your progress from week to week.
Weight training is about more than just lifting heavy dumbbells. It requires attention to detail and may take a little practice to perfect. The good news is that you don’t have to become a professional overnight. Every lift session is an opportunity to perfect each move and improve your overall form. Try to remember that living a healthy lifestyle is a lifelong process. It is not about achieving immediate perfection, but rather moving toward the best version of yourself at a pace you can handle. Focusing on form in the weight room might mean taking a step back in order to move forward. Decreasing weight in order to focus on the precision of each move might actually be the best way to improve overall. In any case, do not be discouraged. You will likely be surprised to see how significantly your gains increase once form is perfected and the proper muscles are being worked. Best of luck and happy lifting!