The Importance of Proper Form
The Importance of Proper Form
“One must learn to walk before they can run.” ~Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
One of the mantras you learn when doing Insanity, is that you don’t sacrifice form for speed, because proper form is ALWAYS more important. It’s ok to do it slower or do less reps as long as you have proper form. Proper form is one of the first steps that you should learn when building your fitness foundation, especially if you’ve never exercised before. If you learn good habits right away, you will succeed much faster than someone who learns how to do it wrong, then needs to correct it.
Kinesiology, or the study of human movement centers around the fact that our bodies can do 5 basic movement patterns: pushing, pulling, rotating and single leg movements. During everyday activities and exercise we use these movement patterns in a variety of combinations, creating thousands of opportunities to perform these motions improperly. Most of these issues come from poor posture and improper body alignment.
So Why Is Proper Form So Important?
The most important reason for proper form during exercise is to prevent injuries. It is also the best way to get the most out of your workout, as certain exercises are designed to work certain muscle groups. When we make sure that our bodies are aligned properly, we can maximize both power and strength. We can effectively work less to achieve more.
Using proper form also helps with proper breathing, which is essential in resistance training exercises because it helps you to generate more force and reduces the chance of heart problems. When using proper form, it is easier to get more air into your lungs, which will also help you focus your attention on maintaining proper form.
In order to life the maximum possible weight, your muscles need to be in the ideal position to generate force. When you begin to move out of alignment, you reduce their ability to function. When you use bad form, a number of muscles — primarily your core — must work overtime to stabilize your body.
How to use proper form?
To begin with, you want to pay attention to your posture. Stand tall, pull your shoulder blades together, and stick your chest out. This will help you realign your body so that your ears are over your shoulders and your shoulders are over your hips. Stand with your feet hip width apart, maintain a slight bend in your kneed and brace your core by drawing your belly button in towards your backbone.
Lift proper weight. If you’ve never exercised before, you can start out with no weights, this will help you concentrate on form. If you choose to use weights, most exercise programs want you to choose the right amount of weight that will allow you to feel tired around 10-15 reps. One set of exercises to failure is all you need, don’t over do it and hurt yourself.
Don’t rush the lift. When using weight, avoid jerking it up. Lift and lower in slow, controlled motions. This will help you maintain good form, stay in tune with your muscle groups by isolating them and doesn’t allow you to use momentum to help you lift the weight.
If you have to, use a mirror. Watch yourself in the mirror to make sure that you are using the proper body alignment and monitor your form. If you don’t have a mirror, ask a fitness professional to observe you and give you feedback.
Don’t forget form during cardio exercise. Cardio exercise isn’t exempt from using proper form. You will want to maintain a solid core by keeping it tight. Here the form will vary with the exercise that you are doing. For example, a runner will need the proper foot fall, stride and cadence to prevent injury.
For a detailed description of most exercises and how to do them, click here.