When you're starting a new training regimen, knowing how to train is just as important as knowing what types of exercises you're doing.
By using proper form, you'll develop good habits that will improve the rate at which you build muscle and help you prevent injuries.
Prevent bad habits from forming
Weightlifting techniques are like riding a bike: you never forget them.
Professional athletes repeat the same actions over and over to build muscle memory. When you imprint a sequence of movements into your mind, the process becomes automatic.
On the one hand, developing muscle memory is a huge help because it makes any exercise simpler and more streamlined. On the other, if you start lifting weights incorrectly, dangerous habits become harder to break.
When you start a new training regimen, take the time to perfect your form. Lifting well from the get-go will add to your ability, strength and stability.
To improve your form, research which muscle groups you want to work on and corresponding exercises. Many online resources provide videos, written descriptions and forums that instruct about proper form and common mistakes. You could also consider signing up for a session of personal training.
If you decide to learn on your own, simply researching exercises on your computer isn’t going to get you where you want to be. Practicing weightlifting techniques with light weights in front of a mirror may help you self-correct and build muscle memory correctly from the start.
Build multiple muscle groups at once
Experts in biomechanics and athletic training stress the importance of core stabilization for proper form.
"Core stability is seen as being pivotal for efficient biomechanical function to maximize force generation and minimize joint loads in all types of activities," according to research from the Lexington Sports Medicine Center in Kentucky.
Although most people think the term “core” is defined as muscles in the trunk, bracing isn’t just about hollowing your abdominal muscles but also engaging muscles from your glutes to your lower back.
“Given the anatomic and biomechanical synergy with the pelvis, the gluteal muscles may also be considered to be essential components as primary power generators (for core stability),” according to Dr. Stuart McGill, professor of spinal biomechanics at the University of Waterloo, famous for developing abdominal bracing techniques.
That means when you use the right form, you’re not just activating the muscle group you are using to lift weights, you’re actively building your glutes, lower back and abdominal muscles, which translates to a full-body toning session.
Doctors stress that it's crucial to practice proper form when attempting to lift weights or start a training regimen, as poor posture can lead to severe injury, including torn ligaments, sprains or, at worst, spinal trauma.
Bad squats and deadlifts are some of the most notorious exercises for causing injuries.
Before attempting these, make sure to stabilize your core with all the muscle groups mentioned above.
Get a professional or a gym veteran to show you the ropes and observe you doing these exercises before you add any extra weight.
Lightly warming up before lifting weights, like going for a short jog and doing post-workout activities like foam-rolling can also help you avoid getting injured while on your fitness journey.
Work up to more weight or difficult exercises
Doing exercises with proper form can get you ready to do more complicated lifts or add more weight to really build some muscle bulk.
At the beginning, aim for higher sets with eccentric actions (i.e. the lowering of a bar bell on your chest during a bench press). This will help strengthen stabilizer muscles and cut the risk of injury/poor mechanics when you add heavier weights down the line.
Proper form is important for preventing injury, building muscle all over your body and giving you access to harder exercises. Sinclair Broadcasting wants to give their viewers the resources they need to live a healthier lifestyle in the new year. Check out all of this month’s articles for more ways you can become the best you.
Please consult with your physician before starting any workout regime to ensure the exercise is safe and right for you.