Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Workout Wednesday: Tips for Good Form

This is a topic I feel merits some attention. When it comes to exercise, form is everything. If you want to keep doing something and stay in good condition, you have to watch your form. This goes for everything, from running to weight lifting.

I found myself in a conundrum in my “total body conditioning” (step interval) class last Wednesday. A lady next to me was doing deadlifts incorrectly. Her back was curved, meaning she wasn’t working the right body parts, and she could injure herself. I wanted to say something to her because I didn’t want her to get hurt, but I’m not the teacher.

Tuesday in BodyCombat (kickboxing) class, a girl was lifting her head up, bending her neck, while doing crunches. This is not the right way to do a crunch, as you should focus on lifting your chin to the ceiling. Keep your chin off your chest, and let your abs do the work—not your neck. Again, they weren’t fully working the core, and could have potentially done damage to their neck. I said nothing because, once again, I’m not the teacher. My teacher in step class says to pretend there is a tennis ball between your chin and your chest. That should help, right?

I wanted to give some tips for you all to make sure you keep good form while you’re exercising. Here's how to buckle your seat belt while exercising.

1. Do Your Research
There is a right way to do just about anything when it comes to exercise. I have a book about running, and there are lots of them out there because there’s a lot to say about running correctly. This is also because there are so many ways you can get hurt while running. A simple Google search will bring up a lot of results and things for you to read. So if you plan on running, kicking, punching, doing dead lifts, doing crunches, or even using machines, do a little research.

2. Watch Videos
You wouldn’t believe the number of exercise videos I have watched on YouTube, guys. I probably couldn’t even count. When I first started using for workouts, I had to look up an enormous amount of Olympic and other lifts on YouTube. There are videos for deadlifts, kickbacks, jumping pull-ups, sumo deadlift high pulls, cleans, push presses, thrusters, squat cleans, and more. Many videos will walk through moves slowly, and they can show you modifications of movements.

3. Ask Your Teacher
If you’re not sure how to do a certain move in a group workout class, you can ask your teacher before or after class. You may want to minimize the range of your movement if you’re not sure about your form. Injury will be less likely this way.

4. Get a Trainer
These guys know what they’re doing, period. They’ll see any error in your form and correct you before you can make a habit of doing it wrong.

5. Use a Mirror
Do your lifts or moves in front of a mirror. If you can have one beside and in front of you, it’s even better, as it gives you more angles to check. For example, doing a good squat requires that your back is straight (lumbar spine), chest is lifted, and your butt drops down. The focus should be more on dropping your back end, and bending your knees should be secondary to that movement. Keep your knees pointed forward, and make sure your knees don’t go over your toes. You can watch all of this with mirrors in front of and beside you.

6. Slow Down
Part of the problem with “AMRAP” or doing as many rounds/reps as possible, is that people often sacrifice good form for speed. You need to practice slowly to get good form. You can speed it up after you’ve had enough practice, so don’t worry about timing your reps or rounds until you are confident in your form. Also lower your weight until you have good form.

7. Practice Makes Perfect
The first time I did thrusters or squat cleans, I’m sure I looked ridiculous. Be patient and recognize that it will take time practice for you to get better at any movement. Professionals didn’t become awesome overnight.

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