Any athlete, regardless of whether they're a beginner or experienced - should always be thinking about their technique when they train. There are countless reasons why perfecting your form needs to be something you swear by - from avoiding injury, to maximising the results of your exercise.
MEMORISE THE MAIN REASONS YOU SHOULD CONSIDER TECHNIQUE IN WHATEVER EXERCISE YOU'RE PERFORMING:
- To prevent injury
- Ensuring correct muscle targeting
- To maintain proper breathing
- Enabling you to lift more weight
- To maximise your progress and results
To understand correct technique, we also need to address what kind of exercises you should be perfecting your form for. There are two main types of exercises when it comes to weightlifting - ISOLATION and COMPOUND. Isolation exercises are specific and work only one body part, such as bicep curls, lateral raises, and sit-ups.
Compound exercises use more than muscle at a time - usually one main muscle and some smaller muscle groups. For example, a squat is a compound exercise that works the quadriceps, glutes, and calves.
Whether your forte is powerlifting, if you prefer long distance running or regularly swim, technique is applicable to any exercise.
One of the first factors to consider is your spine. Proper back alignment is essential in injury prevention and unless you're performing an exercise that directly targets your lower back, your lower back should remain neutral or slightly arched (concave) when exercising.
The next body part or area to consider, is the body part that's being worked. If you're targeting your arms at the gym, consider factors like the weight you've picked and your range of motion when performing an exercise. A suitable weight to work with is one that challenges you, but simultaneously allows you maintain a strong core, proper posture, avoid swinging to help alleviate the heavy weight and maintain correct breathing.
You might be tempted to hold your breath while you're lifting weights. Don't hold your breath. Instead, breathe out as you lift the weight and breathe in as you lower the weight.
REMEMBER THAT THE QUALITY OF THE REP IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN LIFTING A HEAVIER OR WEIGHT OR GETTING IN AS MANY REPETITIONS AS YOU CAN.
If you're running on the treadmill, consider the state of your whole body. Is your back protected with suitable running shoes? Are you breathing correctly? Are you striding with the heels of your feet touching the treadmill first? Do your feet stomp without you realising and you're risking injury to your knees?
You may not realise it, but proper technique also aids in avoiding working unnecessary muscles. Like mentioned above, if the weight you pick is too heavy to properly execute bicep curls, you may end up straining your wrists or working an entirely different body part. If you don't understand how to properly engage the muscles being worked, you may be working other muscles over time to compensate.
Follow these tips to avoid common mistakes when you're weight training:
- Don't skip the warmup. Cold muscles are more prone to injury than are warm muscles. Before you lift weights, warm up and activate those muscles!
- Don't rush. Move the weight in an unhurried, controlled fashion. Taking it slow helps you isolate the muscles you want to work and keeps you from relying on momentum to lift the weight. Rest for about one minute between each exercise.
- Don't overdo. For most people, completing one set of exercises to the point of fatigue is usually enough. Additional sets may take up extra time and contribute to overload injury. However, the number of sets that you perform may differ depending on your fitness goals.
- Don't ignore pain. If an exercise causes pain, stop. Try the exercise again in a few days or try it with less weight.
- Don't forget your shoes. Shoes that protect your feet and provide good traction can keep you from slipping or injuring your feet while you're lifting weights.
Remember, the more you concentrate on proper weight training technique, the more you'll get out of your weight training program.
If you're not sure whether you're doing a particular exercise correctly, ask our Support Team for help. You can find a full technique breakdown for each exercise within THE BOD App. Don’t forget to check our Instagram page for more technique tips!
Let us know what you think and send your questions and feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org