Importance of Form on Exercises
Working out seems simple; you stretch, do some exercises, and get stronger. It’s all a matter of commitment, diet, and effort, right? Then, on the very first squat, you hear one of your knees pop. For a while, it feels fine. But then, after a recovery meal and a post-workout shower, you can barely walk around the house. Turns out you injured your knee, and you’ll be healing for months before you can lift again.
Dedication and diet are important, but you also need to make sure your lifting form is mechanically sound. Below is a short list of popular exercises that are commonly performed wrong:
Squats primarily engage muscles groups in the legs, but also recruit from your core, shoulders and back. When performed correctly, squats are an excellent addition to nearly any workout regimen. The key to squat form is to tighten the abs and back while bending forward slightly at the hips, keep your eyes forward and level, and spread your feet shoulder width apart. As you go down it’s important not to lean forward or let your back round out. This causes back and spine injuries as it shifts the pressure from your legs. Keep the core and back tight, and go straight down. Concentrate on going down and coming back up by putting weight on your heels. This helps you with the coming up portion of the rep. You shouldn’t feel strain on the knees, but in the glutes and thighs.
A squat should go to parallel, which means that your glutes should be on an even plane with your knees. Early termination of the squat is one of the most common mistakes in weightlifting. Many people stop their squat early because they’re afraid of hurting themselves, or worried that they may not be able to come back up. Terminating the squat too soon actually increases the possibility of injury because of the stress is shifted along an awkward angle on the knees. Lifting with a partner decreases your odds of injury, and helps to prevent early termination as well. Personal trainer Jeff Cavaliere demonstrates common squat mistakes and proper squat form in several videos on his ATHLEAN-X Youtube channel.
Deadlifts are another great compound exercise that work a variety of muscle groups. Poor form with this exercise is usually a result of people compensating for the heavyweight involved. Many form mistakes can happen with the deadlift; rounding the back, lifting with the back instead of the legs, and improper foot placement are some of the most common errors. As the deadlift engages nearly every major muscle group in some way, it can cause truly devastating injuries if your form is wrong. This video by Buff Dudes displays the proper form on deadlifts.
You might not think it, but rowing is another exercise that many people are doing wrong. Rowing machines are built towards a specific Range of Motion. If this RoM is ignored, improper rowing technique can create tension, stress and pain in the upper body. The efficiency of your workout can also be jeopardized by recovering too quickly between rows, or with over-extension on your pull. Concept 2 Australia’s video on rowing technique can help identify and correct form mistakes.
Using momentum on a bicep curls can cheat on the exercise and also create in the elbow. Injury and a lack of progress are the result. Too much momentum on a bicep curl may even through you off-balance and cause injuries or pain when you compensate. Going down in weight or bracing yourself before doing heavy bicep exercises can easily correct this mistake.