Focus On Form To Maximize Results
When you go to the gym, have you ever noticed anyone around you with cringe-worthy form? Or do you find yourself looking in the mirror and wondering if you’re even doing a certain move right? Having a strong understanding of good form is a great way to optimize your exercise routine. Your focus on form should always be a top priority when starting any new moves, increasing your intensity or if you’re experiencing pain.
Why Proper Form Is Important For Lifting And Exercise?
Our bodies are made to thrive in specific positions. The musculoskeletal system, especially muscle, is designed to have more strength and protective qualities when in their safe zones. Generally, this means keeping muscles and joints out of extreme ranges of motion while completing an exercise program. When you focus on form, you will naturally have more strength while minimizing unnecessary strain on the body. This all means you can push yourself to new limits.
Focus On Form To Prevent Workout Injuries
Correct form is all about being nice to your body. While you can choose to exercise and lift in a variety of positions, promoting optimized alignment of the bones, joints, ligaments, and muscles will heighten your strength and circulation with a bonus of minimizing the chance of injury. You may have experienced the pain that can be caused by bad form; when you move wrong and your body tells you about it. Avoid pain and injury by choosing good form!
4 Basics For Improving Your Workout Form
It All Starts In The Core
No matter what part of the body you are working, core strength is imperative. If you don’t have proper core activation, you are putting your spine at risk and limiting your strength potential. The body’s strength and stability all start with having a solid core that you can use properly. Meaning, you need to make sure your core is tight with exercise. This should happen automatically, however it can get skewed with chronic back pain or deconditioning.
The spine is made to align in a specific way to safely absorb the forces you put your body through on a daily basis. The spine is not meant to be extremely straight or have exaggerated curves. It’s meant to be somewhere in the middle of these extremes in what is called a neutral spine, creating a slight “S.” When you maintain this ideal curve in your spine with exercise, this again allows optimized movements while preventing strain. Most of us tend to default to a more slouched position as we get tired. If you notice your low back starting to arch or the upper back starting to slump, take a break and try to reposition. Keep in mind that core strength plays a role in your ability to maintain good spine alignment too.
The Neck And Shoulders
If the spine is well aligned, it will now make it easier to maintain good posture for the head, neck, and shoulders. Ideally, the shoulders should be pulled back and chin slightly tucked. Having the shoulders and head too far forward are both common problems that lead to excessive strain on the upper body. Another common issue is the overuse of big muscles that connect the neck and shoulders (mainly the upper trapezius). This causes painful cramping and tension in the neck with exercises. If you notice this happening, try to reset your posture by bringing the shoulders and head back and try again. Otherwise, it may be a sign you are using too much weight or the exercise is too advanced as well.
Knees, Hips, and Ankles
A lot of exercises involve bending the lower body joints to complete moves like squats, lunging, deadlifting, and jumping. When completing these amazingly functional moves, make sure your joints stay happy. Any time you are getting closer to the ground, try to keep the knees behind the toes and in line with the middle toe (not flared in or out). This means that if you look down at your knees you should still be able to see your toes. Additionally, if you are bending forward make sure the motion is coming from the hips rather than the lower back. This keeps the lower body moving in a way that is nice to your ligaments and cartilage!
Choosing The Right Exercises For You
If you notice you are having trouble maintaining good form, this may be a sign you need to modify or change the exercise. There are so many great options for working each part of the body that you shouldn’t resign yourself to moves that don’t feel right for you. As you work out, keep in mind what muscles groups you are focusing on with each exercise. Make sure that if you’re focusing on smaller muscles groups, that you are choosing a weight light enough that it doesn’t cause activation of larger muscle groups.
No matter what exercises you choose, form should always be the first thing on your mind. When you focus on form, you are maximizing your results while minimizing the chance of injury!
Written by Kevin Jones