Why Proper Form Is the Key to Building Strength and Muscle Fast
Exercising with proper form is essential if you want to see optimal results. Proper form is often neglected or forgotten about - either due to a lack of education or an ego that’s encouraging you to lift heavier weights. However, if you want to reduce your chances of injury, activate all the right muscles, and improve your mind and muscle connection, having the discipline to use proper form on each exercise will certainly pay a dividend!
What is Proper Form?
Unfortunately, exercising proper form looks different for each movement. The proper form on a bench press is much different than the proper form on a pull-up or squat. With that said, the principles remain the same despite the movement.
- Your lift should remain controlled. You do not want to have jerky or unstable movements throughout your reps
- You should activate the muscles that you are training. For example, if you are doing pull-ups, you should be pulling yourself up by activating your lats - relying less heavily on momentum and your arms to complete the movement.
- You should fully complete the range of motion. We’ve all seen someone squatting more weight than they can handle, and as a result, only complete a quarter of a rep before standing back up. Proper form would be completing the full range of motion for the squat, or any movement for that matter.
A Common Misconception
Before continuing, it’s important to address a misconception. Proper form does not mean you do not lift heavy. Heavy lifting belongs in plenty of training programs! However, lifting with proper form means you do not lift a weight where you cannot stay true to the above principles. Sometimes, you don’t realize you’re at that weight until you are already in the rep. That’s okay. Reset and adjust accordingly.
The Benefits of Lifting with Proper Form
Using proper form has a long list of benefits. Here are some of the most common benefits:
You prevent injuries. Injuries do not only hurt, but they can also keep you from exercising as that injury recovers. If you pull a bicep, you’ll be out of lifting for a while! Injuries can cause you to see a delay in reaching your goals as you may not be able to work out as you recover.
- You work out the muscles you intended to workout. For example, if you want to build your legs, you may choose to squat. However, if you rely on your back to power you through your squat, you may never get that leg development you were looking for.
- You learn discipline, which can be applied to all aspects of your training program and personal life
Proper Form Expands Beyond Weightlifting
Proper form is not just for weightlifting! If you have bad running form, you can put stress on your body and increase your probability of getting injured. If you don’t have proper form while cycling, you can exhaust your muscles quicker and even slow your average pace down. Exercising with proper form applies to all aspects of exercising, not just the weight room.
Unsure If You’re Doing the Movement Correctly
If you are unsure if you are performing the exercise correctly, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. A personal trainer can evaluate your form and help you improve it if it was incorrect. Slight adjustments are sometimes all you need to make!
Work on Form Indirectly
Bad form doesn’t always mean the weight is too high. Sometimes it means your range of motion, or your flexibility needs to improve. The best way to determine if the bad form is due to the weight being too heavy or because you lack the flexibility to complete the full range of motion is to perform the movement with a very lightweight. If you still struggle to do the movement correctly and with proper form, you likely have a range of motion or flexibility issue that should be addressed.
The Form is the Foundation
Your form is the foundation of your training routine. The better your form is, the better your results can be. To be clear, you can have both - form and intensity - as they are not mutually exclusive. Set yourself up for success by combining a complete workout routine with a diet that fits your goals and supplements that help you recover, boost your testosterone, and provide you with energy to complete your workout. Remember, working out is a competition against yourself. Do not try to impress others with your lifts or exercise routine.