I have become renowned with the many training partners I’ve had to be particularly strict on technique and emphasising ‘form over weight’ when it comes to weight training. However, like many gym goers it wasn’t always at the top of my priority list when hitting the weights.
Injuries, niggles and an ego so big that your head can’t fit through the changing room doors. Leave it behind people, DO NOT enter the gym with that ego and trust me you will be on course for greater gains, less muscle imbalances, less injuries and a more improved performance.
You will often hear top-level Bodybuilders and athletes refer to their technique being a key attribute to their success and muscle gains. But what does it mean to emphasise technique? Does it mean using light weights? Or slowing the exercise down?
Rule 1: No Ego
Emphasising technique firstly requires you to be prepared to stop what you are currently doing (assuming that you are doing something incorrect), by agreeing to lighten the weights you are lifting in order to compensate with a more improved form/ technique. This means leaving your ego outside of the gym and stepping up to each exercise with an open mind and being prepared to perform it correctly.
If you’re someone who simply goes through the motion of any exercise, lifts as heavy as possible, then you may as well stop training if your goal is to gain muscle. Although you may get strong training in this manner, you will struggle to see a significant gain in muscle mass and are more likely to injure yourself.
How do you know if you have bad technique?
Signs of bad technique…
Generally you are someone on the verge of injury or injured most of the time. Signs of bad technique which are felt throughout your body in joints, muscles and even bones. Your body is very clever in that it will tell you if something’s not right by sending a signal to your CNS and causing you pain. If you continue doing what you’re doing, you’re asking for trouble!
A good example is the deadlift exercise. A very complex exercise which is more than simply picking up and putting down a heavy weight. It requires a particular alignment between the feet, hips and shoulders in order to correctly lift the weight. After a set of deadlifting you shouldn’t be feeling pain in your lower back, at least not a discomforting pain. You should feel your hamstrings, glutes and parts of your lats feeling pumped with little or no pump in the lower back.
Another sign of bad technique is muscle imbalances. If you have one leg bigger than the other for example you may be squatting wrong and putting too much pressure on your stronger/ leading leg. Or you might be performing bicep curls with dumbbells and one arm swings the weight up whilst the other lifts it with control, the result, one big right arm and a small left arm!
How to improve your technique
Not to worry if you’re someone who lacks the best technique or is struggling to perform exercises correctly. There are many tools out there these days which can help. Firstly, the use of a good training partner who is very observant can make a massive difference to your technique. I’ve been fortunate enough to train with guys who are very strict with technique and would stop me during an exercise if I was doing it wrong. This can be a frustrating process but trust me it’s worth it.
Video yourself and watch it back to see how exactly you perform an exercise, it may be nothing like you imagined. This is a good reality check so you know what needs fixing the next time you perform that exercise.
YouTube is a great way to watch exercises and find out how to correctly perform them. By watching personal trainers and most high level Bodybuilders and imitating them you are more likely to train correctly than by Bob from your local gym who has no care about technique and just goes to lift heavy weights. Check out some of my exercise tutorials: GNC P.T Academy.
Emphasise form over weight. Once you have mastered the correct technique of an exercise slowly increase the weight you lift. Approach every exercise with these two simple tips and you will be on your way to greater gains and less (if any) injuries!
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