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Proper Exercise Form 101
Exercises have gotten more complex than ever! Workouts used to involve simple movements like Push-Ups and Pull-ups, but now they involve multi-joint movements that work every muscle in the body at the same time. But you know what hasn't changed? The importance of proper exercise form.
Why Proper Exercise Form Matters
Why does it matter if you do exercises with the proper form? Poor form not only increases your risk of injuries, but it stops you from getting a truly effective workout. Those who are serious about getting in shape need to correct their exercise form in order to see results. Here are three of the main issues that could be causing the flaw in your form:
Problem #1: Stability
Or, more accurately, the LACK of stability. It's common for beginner weightlifters to struggle with the right form, especially as they are just getting their muscles accustomed to the new movements. However, after a certain amount of time, you should develop the proper musculature to control and stabilize your movements.
The key to proper stability is control. When you control your movements (only moving within the proper range of motion), you will have better stability. There will be no wobble or waver in your lifts, and you will have the right form.
Problem #2: Strength
This is a problem ALL lifters face at some point or another: lifting too much weight. It's always nice to see progress in your lifting. The more you can lift, the more progress you make, right? But sometimes you add too much weight to the movement. You end up with poor posture or form because you're compensating for a lack of strength or endurance.
The solution to this problem: only lift what you can. Yes, it is good to add more weight when you need it, but that shouldn't take precedence over your form. If you can't get the form quite right because of the added weight, drop it back down to your previous weight and do a few more reps. Once you've gotten your body used to the added reps, it will be able to handle the added weight (at your normal rep count) without your form being negatively affected.
Problem #3: Knowledge
Do you know what your body should look like as you are doing the exercise? There is a "general guideline" for all lifters to follow, but you need to understand that your limbs, joints, and muscles are completely unique. If you try to adhere to someone else's lifting form, you may end up injuring yourself.
You need to study the correct form for the movement, and work your body into the right position. If it means stretching to increase flexibility or using less weight to correct your form, so be it. The important thing is that you KNOW what you need to do in order to achieve the proper exercise form on all exercises.
Most Common Exercise Form Mistakes
Want to know what mistakes to look for in your form? Here are some of the most common problems: lifting your butt while performing any variation of the plank; lifting your head too much while performing push-ups; dropping your stomach too close to the ground while doing any push-up or plank movements; overcompensating for heavy weight on exercises like Suitcase Carry; leaning back too much for Deadlifts or Shrugs; bending toward the side carrying excess weight on One-Armed Shoulder press. These are just a few mistakes, but understanding how your body moves is the first step towards correcting your posture and getting it right on every movement!