My fellow weight lifters, I have a question for you; Why do you lift weights? Is it because you want to improve your physique, your muscle strength or just for the fun of it? I only ask because the purpose behind lifting should always be at the forefront of your mind, especially during a workout.
I have witnessed a lot of people recently “hitting new PB’s“, which would all be well and good if they were performing the exercises correctly. This isn’t me being mean, its actually a notion instilled in most weight lifting competitions. For example, if, during a bench press, your hips lose contact with the bench, the rep is illegal and doesn’t count.
It just seems that recently, there is a bit of pandemic of poor form and improper technique. I take my hat off to all those who are out there trying and pushing themselves to be better and better. However, I urge all of you, weight lifting beginner or weight lifting vet, never ever neglect the basics. Always take the time to assess your form before increasing the amount of weight added. Progression will come at a much faster and safer rate if the process is not rushed. Becoming so consumed with the amount of weight on the bar will likely only lead to one outcome; injury.
Obviously, injury is something we all wish to avoid and that is why it is VITAL that appropriate levels of control are applied to each exercise. Excess momentum and strange body jerks used to throw the weight about have no place in the safe and correct execution of weight lifting or strength training.
Additionally, excess momentum and poor form mean that the muscles intended for the movement, whilst they could still be engaging, are not strong enough to support the exercise with the additional weight which also means, other muscles are being fired in order to distribute some of the stress. If we are relieving the muscles of stress, firing up other muscles and not lifting the weight correctly then guess what else is also being deprived – gains. If the muscles are not effectively worked then they will not grow. Does that not deafeat the whole purpose of lifting weight in the first place?
Progression will come at a much faster and safer rate if the process is not rushed
A little while a go, I wrote my top 5 tips for beginner lifters because I know everybody wants to lift correctly and maximise their gains, so I would recommend reading that again. There is no harm in re-confirming the basics, there are a couple of addtions I would like to add to that list though;
Be careful who you take advice from;
I am sure everybody who offers advice means well but, don’t just take it as gospel. For instance, I have had someone ‘correct’ my squat without realising I was working on a different type of squat. Additionally, be wary of taking advice of someone who is constantly injured and more so if they wear that like a badge of honour.
Make a conscious effort to exaggerate the squeeze of the contraction. This ensures, not only, that the correct muscles are engaging but also, instantaneously increases the intensity of the contraction. The exaggeration will also assist with muscle memory which in turn and over time, will assist with strengthening form.
Possibly the biggest cause of insighting improper technique. It is much easier to control a movement when it is slowed down.
How many times have you watched someone bench press and drop the weight on to the chest before throwing it back up? This improper technique means that all of the weight is being absorbed elsewhere and the chest muscles do next to nothing.
By slowing down, the muscles have to engage in order to combat gravitational pull (which is essentially just dropping the weight) and also, prevents excess momentum and explosive power taking over the movement.