Why form is so important
Posted on 10th October 2019 at 16:34
We all think we have good form but what if I told you it could be better?
The constraints of work life, social, family and friends can often leave very little time in the diary. Throw on top of that the hours you dedicate each week to train in the gym it’s almost like you need to be a time management ninja to fit everything in.
With all of this in mind one thing is clear about the time you spend in the gym. You want it to be optimal and make sure you make every session count.
No time to waste doing things half-hearted or training in a way that won’t yield the best results possible. You can still achieve amazing results training in the gym with just 3-4 hours a week but only if one thing is on point.
The F word.
I will be honest this trumps all.
You can have the best training programme going or have the most insane work rate but if your form is not up to scratch you aren’t going to be achieving much in terms of results.
People think about good form the same way they do about being a good driver. We all think we are great drivers but the reality is we all have quite bad habits and probably aren’t quite as Lewis Hamilton esc as we think we are.
This is so true when it comes to training in the gym.
Everyone thinks they know how to execute a good bicep curl. Well why do your arms reasonable spaghetti then?
I’m sure a lot of you don’t have spaghetti arms :).
But the point is that we all need to be a bit more open and excepting that we can improve our form.
I know I can.
I will be honest this blog was inspired by when I trained with a client this week in London.
My client Oli who has been smashing his training programme and his strength gain has been insane the last 12 weeks. But we decided to get a session in face to face and go over a few things before his next plan.
I offer a 1-2-1 training session with all my online clients every 3 months pending location.
Although his training has very impressive we made just a few little tweaks on some key movements and the change in muscle activation was massive.
An example was the chest supported row where he was feeling it more in his traps than his mid back and lats. A simple change of foot position and pulling the elbows back lower changed things massively for him.
The same was the case for the tricep extension.
Getting him into a better starting position and ensuring he stayed there resulted in a lot more tension being created within the set. His exacts words were ‘I think I need to lift much lighter on that’. Purely down just a small tweak in form, getting more consistent activation and one hell of a tricep pump.
However how can you start to look at your form more critically and improve muscle activation?
Below are my top three tips.
1. Film your exercises – Such an easy thing to do but this can really allow you to assess more critically what you are doing. Sometimes a set may feel great and range of motion is on point but when watched back on video things can look very different. For me videos show two important things. Range of motion and intensity. Both are so very important but when you are half way through a hard set of squats you probably don’t have the energy or focus to really measure these things. But watched back on video you can.
2. Slow down your tempo – I’m not saying that slower tempos are better than faster tempos but for a lot of people slowing down tempos particularly the eccentric (negative) phase can really help improve muscle activation and potentially form. For those exercises you struggle to feel in the right area’s slow things down to a 3 maybe even a 4 second eccentric and really think about the muscle group you are trying to hit.
3. Think about the muscle group – Leading on quite nicely from point two is thinking about the main muscle group you are trying to activate. The mind muscle connection can be really powerful and is something you want to try and utilise. Now granted exercises like squats can be harder as there is bit more going on but still try and thinking about how your quads and glutes as you feel the stretch at the bottom and squeeze at the top. For more isolation exercises it can be easier to do. One easy tip to help with my mind muscle connection is to visualise the muscle group you are looking to hit in red like how you will see on some machines. You know how they have a diagram of the human anatomy with the target muscle group highlighted in red. Think about what that muscle feels like when it’s lengthened and then what it feels like when it’ shortened and squeezed. All while trying to lift a good weight and keep tempo under control, hey I didn’t say it was going to be easy lol.
Good form in the gym is so important so be critical of yourself and how you train. Ask yourself after every set whether you felt it in the right muscle groups or were other muscle groups taking over? If so it may be wise to pull the weight back a bit.
You will never have perfect form but you can always strive to improve it.
Tagged as: Training
Share this post: