Benefits of Proper Weight Lifting Technique
Increase muscle gains with the proper weight-lifting technique.
When it comes to your performance in the gym, there are a few things you have to keep in mind. One is the exercises you’ll perform during your workout. Another is the volume and load you intend on using and finally and probably most importantly, is the way you perform your exercises.
What I’m talking about is proper form and technique. If you have ever stopped and looked around your gym, you’ll probably notice that almost everyone has their own version of what they consider proper form and technique. That’s not to say that what you see is wrong or that one person is doing the exercise better than the other, but there are some guidelines you should follow. A beginner trainer needs to adhere to proper form and technique when performing an exercise. The reasons for this include safety, proper body alignment, stability and learning how to correctly work the targeted area.
There is nothing more important when performing an exercise than feeling the muscle work. If that means using a form some experts would consider loose, then so what! As long as you’re practising safe technique, you are still getting the benefits of the exercise. It may not be textbook form, but it works!
Once you have a few years of training under your belt, you start picking up on certain movements or angles that work the targeted muscle the way you want. I think too many people get tied up with what is proper form and technique and forget that you are there to feel the muscle and feel the contractions. Let’s take a look at where the definitions of proper form and technique came from.
The physics of how your body moves plays a critical role in the mind-muscle connection. Anatomically speaking, most of us are pretty much the same. However, where we differ is in our skeletal structures. Some of these differences include:
- Long bone lengths versus shorter bone lengths
- Different muscle lengths
- Varying degrees of the origins and insertions of our muscles
- Different structures of our tendons and ligaments
- Different alignments of our spine and pelvic structure
All of these elements play a part in our biomechanics and the way we perform our lifts in the gym. Let’s take the squat for example. A person shorter in stature with wide hips is pretty much designed to squat. Their range of motion is pretty small and due to their skeletal and musculature, they are able to produce a lot of power and force. Put that person against someone much taller with narrow hips and they win every time. The taller person may have difficulty squatting down to at least 90 degrees because of their structure, but that doesn’t mean going down just short of 90 won’t give their quads a good workout.
There are far too many exercises and examples of this to go through, but the point is that as a beginner you need to start somewhere and that’s with having a person with a relatively similar structure as yours show you the correct movements. As you get more experienced and experiment with your form and technique, you’ll eventually find what works best for you.
What is Considered Proper Form?
Again, this is a difficult question to answer, but there are a few key things to keep in mind. First off, the health of your back should be at the forefront of your thinking. Keeping your spine straight and minimizing unnatural bending or twisting when you lift, especially from the floor, is so important. One injury to your lower back and it will stick with you for a long time. Believe me, I am a prime example!
One study looked at five lifting methods that cover the range of techniques recommended by various back schools. These were biomechanically evaluated for low back disc compression and low back ligament strain. The method that yielded the least compression and strain was that of performing low lying lifts with an erect spine with no bending of the spinal column at all. With so many exercises, you can involve lifting weights from the floor.
Something else you should consider is paying attention to your range of motion. Flexibility differs from person to person and just because you can perform behind the neck military presses doesn’t mean I can. Finally, something I preach all the time to my students and trainers is that form is always more important than the weight you use. I know most want to lift really heavy, especially in your younger years, but nothing will be more beneficial for your muscles than using correct form over sloppy form just to move the weight.
I tend to believe that teaching technique to a bodybuilder is difficult to do. I know some will disagree with me on this, but let me explain. The way I perform an exercise to squeeze a muscle or stretch a muscle, and the way I feel it doesn’t automatically mean you’ll feel it the same way. I’ve been teaching training techniques for muscle gain for a long time now, and it’s a case of one move doesn’t fit all. However, it can be altered to make it work for that person. A simple pronation or supination of the hand makes a difference. Abducting or adducting a limb makes a big difference. Pulling your shoulders back or raising your chest will make a difference.
The key to teaching someone technique is knowing the movements of the body – the biomechanics. Know how the levers of the body work, know how muscles lengthen and shorten, and know from experience and experimentation how to make subtle adjustments to someone’s technique so that they receive the benefits of the movement. Having a friend or a trainer that has a scientific background and an approach to training will make a huge difference.
Listen to Your Body
Without question, the only way to perfect your form and technique is to listen to your body. Rather than switching up your routine because you’re not noticing any gains, switch up your technique. Don’t be afraid to change a movement just because someone told you that’s the way to do it. You know for yourself if you are feeling it or not. One slight change in angle could make all the difference. Develop the mind-muscle connection in your lifts. That’s truly the most important element of form and technique. Knowing how the muscle is supposed to feel before you perform the movement and then making adjustments as you go along, so that the muscle contracts and stretches the way you know it is supposed to. This takes time and it will be easier for some muscles than others, but once you achieve this, you’ll see noticeable gains.
Some Exercises Fit others Better
If an exercise doesn’t feel right or the machine you are using is working a muscle other than the one you want worked, abandon it for the time being. It’s just a matter of your body not fitting that machine. It’s no big deal. Again, try different approaches to using the machine, stand instead of sit, lean in or out, sit backwards in it, whatever it takes to feel it. If that doesn’t work, like I said abandon it for now and come back to it another time. Free weights are a little different in that they allow you to use what you feel is the best range of motion and allow more freedom of movement. Incorporate free weights, machines and also cables and pay attention to what form or technique works.
I think developing the mind-muscle connection is the most important aspect of form and technique, along with safety. There are products out there that can help you with this. ALLMAX HVOL will help prime your muscles for the pump you want to achieve. With great muscle pumps, you are really able to feel the muscle work. Also, adding ALLMAX Arginine and Beta-Alanine to your pre-workout shake will help you achieve that pump to trigger your mind-muscle connection – your most valuable psychological tool.
There is evidence to suggest that using correct form and technique is an individual thing. If you are starting out, have someone knowledgeable show you general form and technique as a place to begin to avoid injury. After that, experiment with your own biomechanics to find what works. Use the supplements to pump up your muscles to help achieve the mind-muscle connection and then enjoy the feeling of properly training your body.