When we talk with our buddies about going to the gym, many of us feel the need to quantify our achievements by talking about how much we lift. With competitive gym-goers, they have competitions to see who can lift the heavier weight. However, for those new to weightlifting, we don’t want you to get the wrong idea. You could be lifting the heaviest weights in the world, but your body isn’t going to feel the benefits unless you have correct form and posture. Below we are going to discuss the importance of good form so you can make sure that if you are lifting at home, or at the gym, you are lifting right, and preventing injuries. If you have the luxury of joining a local gym, then you may also have the luxury of hiring a personal trainer. If that’s the case, you kind find comfort in knowing that your personal trainer should coach you along the way, this is also great for preventing injuries.
Before learning why posture and form are important, we should first discuss the latter. What does it mean to have correct ‘form’? In short, the term ‘form’ describes the exact movement required during a specific exercise to maximize results and reduce the likelihood of injury. Often, subconsciously or consciously, we find ways to cheat exercises. If you train Crossfit in Tucson, you know the importance of proper form. Repping out in the gym, or during competition requires form and endurance.
For example, our body can start rocking to make dumbbell curls a little easier. With correct form for a dumbbell curl, you should be standing straight (posture), legs shoulder-width apart, and then you should have full control as the dumbbell is brought up to your chest. While the elbows remain at your sides, your back shouldn’t arch and your breathing should match each repetition. Proper form will also help with fatigue, but regardless of how tired you get during a competition, you gotta keep pushing!
Why is Form Important?
Why shouldn’t we push our elbows out with a dumbbell curl, or go really fast so the momentum makes the exercise easier? Ultimately, there are a number of reasons;
- Injury Prevention – Let’s not forget, weightlifting will have you working with some heavy equipment. With one false move (i.e. incorrect form), you could dislocate your elbow, dislocate the shoulder, pull a muscle, strain the back, strain the neck, and more. With the right form, your body goes through the correct movements, in a controlled way, and you can minimize the risk of injury.
- Breathing – Do you ever end a set of a particular exercise and then feel short of breath? If so, this suggests incorrect posture or form (or both!). Improving your cardio always helps, but here are some other pointers for you. When following the exercise properly, this should allow for steady breathing during each rep. Normally, personal trainers will advise exhaling with the concentric phase (pushing the bar away with a bench press) and inhaling with the eccentric phase (while lowering the bar to the chest). With proper breathing, you reduce the risk of aneurysms, blood pressure spikes, and heart issues.
- Muscle Targeting – Why do an exercise when you aren’t doing it properly? If you’re just swinging the arm about with a dumbbell, your bicep isn’t actually going to get much done. Therefore, correct form allows you to utilize your time in the gym. With the right muscle targeting, you might find that fewer, more concentrated exercises will lead to better results than a 90-minute session with poor form. Also, remember that you need to supplement your diet with more vitamins and proteins, and an overall change to healthy eating habits will help your muscles recover much faster.
Common Mistakes with Form and Posture
In our experience, there are some common mistakes that hold gym-goers back with particular exercises. For example, the spine should be held in a neutral position with deadlifts rather than being hunched over; this can lead to spinal problems. With bicep curls, it’s normally the elbows that have trouble tucking in. Often, this comes from trying to lift a weight that’s too heavy. You need to maintain mental focus while weight lifting, letting your mind drift can result in improper form and injury.
If you want to highlight potential errors in your posture and form, pick up one of the lightest weights in the gym and go through the motion. With a lightweight, you’ll have full control and it’ll be easier to get into the right habits. Over time, increase the weight and remember the correct form and posture.
If you’ve never learned the right posture and form for weightlifting, watch some videos online or have a personal training session. Either way, you’ll be better positioned afterwards to reduce injuries, target muscles, and utilize your breathing! These weight lifting tips are great for everyone, if you compete in MMA or other combat sports, check out our other tips for boxers to help you step up your game and compete at the highest level.
If you live in Tucson and want to come check out one of the fastest growing gyms in the area, swing by Boxing Inc today and try out one of our free classes. We have specialized fitness instructors that teach various classes at our gym that include Boxing, Crossfit, Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, and more.