I’m sure we’ve all witnessed it before, and we may even be guilty of doing this ourselves – improper form and technique when attempting to lift heavy. Sure, the only way to increase muscle mass is by lifting heavy but what’s the point if you’re going to have sloppy form? Not only can we potentially cause injury to ourselves or clients with improper form, but we’re not working the intended muscle groups with improper form either. When strength training any area of your body, having proper form and technique is crucial to make sure you’re working the intended muscle groups that you want to develop and grow. There are several factors that play important roles when strength training.
One of the most important reasons to maintain proper form during weight lifting exercises is to prevent injury. When we lift a lot of heavy weight, this can cause the body to become misaligned that can place your tendons, muscles and joints in positions that can potentially cause strains or tears. Rule of thumb here is to lower the weight if you have to sway your body in order to life the weight up. It’s always better to lift lighter weights with proper form than to lift heavy weight with sloppy form and work your way up the “ladder” to the heavier weights! For example, if you’re performing bicep curls with dumbbells, and you have to swing your whole body into the exercise to lift the weight- then this is a sign that the weight is too heavy and you should find a lighter weighted dumbbell.
Proper form also ensures correct muscle targeting. Going back to the bicep curls, if we’re swinging our whole body into the intended bicep curl movement, chances are that our bicep is not getting worked, and you’re working more of your shoulder girdles and core. By doing this you can potentially cause injury to the intended muscle that you are trying to work, and strain other areas in the body that aren’t intended to be worked, with the example of bicep curls.
Proper Breathing Techniques
One area I’d like to discuss also is breathing. Proper form helps to ensure proper breathing techniques during our reps and sets. This is essential for weight training exercises because it helps to generate more force and reduce the chance of heart problems, aneurisms and severe increases in blood pressure. When you use correct form you will be able to breathe the air in easier, and you will be able to focus on the exercise at hand with much greater detail. Rule of thumb here is to inhale just before the positive (lift) and exhale after the negative (lowering the weight), and keep this pace for each rep of each set.
Everyone likes to use heavy weight in the gym, but in order for us to lift the maximum weight our muscles need to be in the ideal position to generate force. When movements become unaligned, muscles are placed at awkward angles decreasing functionality. By maintaining proper form you will be able to lift heavier that will be noticed with visible results in a shorter timeframe.
Gerard Casazza has been a personal trainer for over four years, and played NCAA Division II collegiate soccer. He has always shown a passion for fitness, and enjoys changing clients lives through personal training.