Friday, 11 January 2013

Form and Function - The Importance of Technique.

I can't stress how important form is to lifting. Attempting to lift without form is like expecting to jump into a car and start it by banging on the steering wheel, it just won't work, and if it does, you are more likely to do yourself injury than get to where you are going. I can't count the amount of times I've winced watching a gym goer jerk up a weight at a spine crushingly awkward angle. The trouble, I think, originates from many weight-lifters approaching their training backwards. Many of them first get into weights by doing isolations, and working solely on the muscles they most want to improve, as a opposed to working their body as a unit with compound movements. Isolations, movements that work single muscle groups, are less effective than compound movements, which work multiple muscle groups and joints in a more efficient manner. With isolations strict form isn't quite so important, nor is it with machine weights, generally there is little injury a person can do to themselves with a lazy bicep curl, or a lazy machine row, but when these people get a little wiser and start attempting compound movements, sloppy form starts to have major problems.

First off, bad form is likely to result in injury, injury that is likely to result in you spending more time on the bench than on the field. However, many macho fitness enthusiasts will just shrug at this, and think that the worst is unlikely to ever happen to them. There's not much you can do to convince someone of the important of good form with this threat, especially if they have been lifting for years and haven't had any serious problems - though they might be a little silent on the subject of the many aches and pains they experience on a daily basis, usually a result of muscle imbalances. However, the more subtle and frustrating result of poor form is that, while you may lift heavier with bad form, you don't target the muscles you intend to improve anywhere near as effectively. The idea behind weight training should be to improve your body, not to improve an arbitrary number on a weight stack. It can be easy to lose slight of this, but then end result is a less toned, weaker and flabbier body than those out lifting their maximum with perfect form. Many 'experienced' lifters complain about hitting plateaus all too frequently, and change their diets, training programs and even turn to steroids to break them. A much simpler solution would be to focus on form, drop the weight a little bit, and think about making that lift as perfect as you can.

Don't take the easy way out, focus on your big lifts - compound movements recruiting multiple joints and muscle groups - research good form, and for goodness sake, apply it.

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