I’m doing this article on ‘Form’, purely by accident. As I mentioned in a previous post there’s more to being a trainer than just setting up a circuit or session, meeting, greeting and timing you, then dispatching you into the big bad world feeling top dog.
I was actually searching for the ‘latest and greatest’ quirky fad the industry has to offer. As ever, 5 million articles came up wanting to pitch their worth against the rest. After clicking on a few and ‘3 lining’ them (anything further than this can exceed my attention span) I noticed that in the majority of articles (despite bigging up ‘top’ places in London) were using images that poorly reflect or represent the exercises they were supposedly showcasing.
When we use the term Form we mean technique. The main reason good technique is essential in ALL (not most) of what you do in our studio is to reduce the risk of injury. This in turn will allow you the opportunity to keep making substantial gains in the healthiest way possible. When our form is poor, we are generally using the wrong muscles to do the right move, or using muscles that are too weak to move a load that is too great. The most common one is the Deadlift (surprise surprise) and the big rounded back problem we see all of the time. Sometimes it is because bravado gets in the way and we want to shoehorn a swanky number from the floor, to extension, other times it may be that the individual genuinely has no idea what they are doing. Whilst you may get away with it a time or two, it’ll catch you up and take you down, and your progress with it. The actual image I saw was a forward lunge with a rotation, except there was no rotation. Such an exercise is complex, it requires strength, balance, coordination, control and depending on the reps range, some muscular endurance (because the twist not only works the obliques and abdominals, it increases time under tension when both legs are bent at 90 degrees in the rep). This got me thinking ‘the individual in the photo doesn’t firmly understand the dynamics of the exercise’. After a moment or two I corrected myself and thought, ‘the person running the session for this fitness company trying to sell a great class, does not grasp the individuals abilities’ which, despite a forward lunge with an over thigh rotation is a pretty kick ass exercise, if the individual can’t execute it with good form then it’s not as effective as it could be by simplifying or changing the exercise, and the trainer isn’t as good as they’re making out.
Using good form allows the right muscles to take the load during an exercise, and the right muscles to support the primary muscles, maximising core engagement, boosting results significantly and having the impact your training is supposed to have. A lunge exercise requires the hips to drive into extension in order for the glute (bum muscle) to work properly. If the hips don’t extend, the glute can’t be working properly because extension of the hip is the glutes function. If this is the case you’re taking it all on the quads and hamstrings, meaning that booty you’ve been lunging tirelessly towards isn’t going to shape up!
Obviously when it comes to selecting exercises for people it does come down to a few different things, and flexibility is one of them. Obviously if certain muscles are tight then an effective working range of movement for a particular joint or muscle may not be possible so adaptations have to be made. An example of this would be; bent back Deadlift? Raise the starting point a little by putting blocks under the weight. Or, throwing your hips into a bicep curl (You’ve all done it)? Reduce the weight.
In this game, good technique will always come out on top. The stronger you get, the longer it’ll take to get stronger because you’re always closer to ‘your best’ or your limit. Lamborghini made a car called the Aventador which tops out at 218mph, but to make it go 219mph will require many designers throwing in ideas, trying to lose weight from one bit, make the next a little more aero, and wring a tiny bit more power from the engine, costing a lot of money, and taking time. Building a stronger, lighter, faster and more responsive you is no different.
Many will pay lip service to having good technique but I pride myself (as do the other trainers at Body Planners) on making sure technique is on point, helping clients get closer to, and achieving their goals safely. Don’t look at a YouTube program and think you’re mimicking the exercise perfectly, you won’t be. If you’re in doubt whether ‘you’re doing the right thing’, you’re probably not. If you started a journey that fizzled out, relight the mojo candle and get moving again!
Body Planners Personal & Small Group Personal Training genuinely is the cost effective, direct solution to your training, and we’ve plenty of clients achieving a wide variety of goals who’ll tell you the same.