Seven Tips for Focusing on Form
#1. Learn it Right
Consistently performing sloppy reps doesn’t stimulate muscles effectively and doesn’t yield optimal results. Spend time reading about new exercises and seeing them properly demonstrated. Check out my YouTube Channel here for exercise demonstrations. Make sure you understand what muscle groups the exercise is supposed to target to help you feel if you’re on the right track. Better yet, hire a personal trainer to instruct you.
#2 Do it Light
Always practice a new exercise with lighter weight than you think you should be using, especially the first time. Test it out, feel how it works compared to other exercises for the same bodypart, do some higher rep sets to perfect the movement before you start trying to set Personal Records. Be particularly conservative on poundage when learning compound movements like the squat, bench press, or deadlift. Get your technique honed on these exercises and the results (and ability to handle heavier loads) will come over time.
#3 Check Yourself Out
The mirrors are there for you to check yourself out so don’t be afraid to get “caught” looking at yourself. Watch the targeted muscle group working, monitor your rep speed, make sure you aren’t slouching or allowing other body parts to take over.
#4 Ask for the Check
If something continues feeling awkward or you just want to make sure you’re on the right path, ask your trainer for a quick form check. Don’t waste hours in the gym doing things wrong or risk permanent injury by getting into the habit of performing an exercise wrong just because you never confirmed you were doing it right.
#5 Picking Pounds
This is a critical component of bodybuilding success that is greatly misunderstood. Generally women go too light and men go too heavy for their body to see continuous improvement.
Heavy, moderate, and light poundage: First, remember these terms are relative to you alone. You may be stronger walking into a gym than you realize or have a muscle group that simply lags behind the rest of your body that requires a different size dumbbell that your buddy. You cannot continuously shape and improve your aesthetics only by lifting light weights and you cannot continuously make strength and size gains by only lifting the heaviest load possible for 3 reps.
The last few reps of any set should be a struggle, regardless of which rep range you are utilizing. All rep ranges should produce some sort of stimulation be it burning, a pump, or total heart pounding exertion. When you find you are exceeding the rep range you are targeting on a particular exercise, it’s time to switch it up, pick up the next size and face a new challenge.
#6. Train hard and be patient
Be competitive, push yourself but above all, be patient. The ability to handle progressively larger dumbbells will come through the use of proper form and persistent, progressive training.
#7. Varying Your Workouts = Continual Progress
Be sure to use a variety of exercises to achieve your goals. As Charles Poliquin says, “A training system is only as good as the time it takes you to adapt to it.” Your body will adapt to the rigors of the routine you are doing and stop making progress.
If you need any help with learning how to correctly execute a weight training program, or varying your routine, let me know. I’d love to help.