The Following is a Guest Post by Reuben Bajada.
Is Using Correct Form All That Important?
Above is a really big question for anyone who spends time improving themselves in the gym each week.
The technique (form) you use on each and every exercise can play a pretty big role in how fast you make gains and how much of an impact those gains will have on your performance.
This week’s post isn’t a ‘step by step’ form guide for a big group of exercises, this is rather a complete explanation as to what form actually is, how best to treat it and how correcting any weaknesses in your form at the moment will benefit you.
What is exercise form?
For me, instead of talking about why one form or technique is better than another, I want to discuss forms practical application when training.
Perfect form can be measured and classified into 2 groups;
1) Using correct ROM (range of motion)
ROM stands for the distance (range) a muscle travels throughout a particular exercise. Some exercises like the barbell squat have a very large ROM and others like the bent over dumbbell tricep kickback have a rather short range of motion.
Now imagine an exercises range of motion as a long footpath, the further you walk along that path the more things you see and the more experiences you encounter.
The same thing applies to your muscles, the larger the range of motion you use, the more muscular fibers you recruit and therefore stimulate.
The only difference is that a muscle has different peak points of stimulation along that range of motion. These peak points are areas of stimulation that enforce much more isolation on a muscle group than along other parts of the muscles range.
To put simply, you should combine full range of motion exercises to stimulate an entire muscles range and should also use partial ROM, like half reps or static reps to further isolate individual muscle groups when training.
2) Maintaining exercise safety and remaining injury free.
Naturally, weight lifting causes much greater stress to our internal organs, muscles, bones, joints, ligaments and cartilage. Because of this it has the potential to take them to dangerous levels above what can be handled, causing damage and injury.
Not using correct form when training with resistance is one of the most common reasons for those injuries and can easily be avoided with the implementation of some basic principles.
It is all about controlling your movements when under ‘hyperextension’
Hyperextension is when a muscle and its surrounding structures are taken past their normal range of motion, as seen in the pictures above.
Many common weight lifting exercises enforce slight hyperextension to reach full range of motion, here are some examples.
Hyperextension of the shoulder – Barbell / Dumbbell bench press of fly’s
Hyperextension of the knee – Leg extensions / straight leg deadlifts
Hyperextension of the elbow – Bicep preacher curl / tricep extensions
Hyperextension of the spine – Barbell Deadlift / Lying rear leg raises
As you can see some of the most common exercises even have potential to cause injury so make sure you follow these simple rules when taking your muscles into hyperextension;
1) Ensure your movement is slow, controlled and deliberate
2) Never use explosive force in a hyperextension. Use explosion to get to the point before hyperextension and then slow down your movement
3) If you have a previous or current injury to a muscle, don’t take it to the point of hyperextension. If you do you are a very good chance of re-doing it or causing it further damage.
Summing things up on form…
So are you currently using correct form?
Well if your exercise technique is taking each muscle through its full range of motion and you are in total control of the weight throughout and more importantly through hyperextension, then the answer is YES!
But if you’re using excessive momentum (swinging) during an exercise you are more than likely recruiting other muscle groups to assist in the lift. This not only increases your chances of injury from hyperextension but also takes away valuable stimulation from the muscle you’re actually targeting.
LESS STIMULATION = LESS RESULTS
About the author.
Reuben Bajada is known around the world elite results based coach and trainer. He is a renowned strength & conditioning coach, personal trainer and sports performance nutritionist who offers his time, knowledge and training advice to anybody ready to commit to both improving the way they look and perform.
He is the author and mind behind 2010’s most popular muscle building program; ‘Permanent Muscle‘ which guarantees to build real muscle, on real people, real fast.