Good form is critical to both safe exercise and properly developing efficient movement mechanics and conditioning. Whether you are performing exercise consisting of running, resistance training, yoga, cross-fit, swimming, or any sport – developing and maintaining good form is essential.
When you perform movement with good form, your body is working as an effective unit. By using proper techniques, you will feel control of your body and motion, and reduce wasted motions that decrease physical effectiveness and increase the chances of injury.
Achieving Good Form
First, there is no one “perfect” or “absolute” way to move. There are several factors that come into play – the level of difficulty of the motion, level of resistance, and specific body mechanics of the individual performing the movement.
Take the basic bench press for example – while there are some constants in what defines good form for a bench press – level grip, evenly raising the bar, keeping your torso on the bench, not over arching your back, etc – there are specifics such as hand width, angle of arm to torso, exact position on chest to lower the bar, etc that will depend on the individual – both physically and their goals.
What you are looking for in your motion is steady, controlled movements that work with the mechanics of your body – not against them. If you have to arch your body, swing to build momentum, cannot hold your arms or legs in stable positions in resistance training; or, use uneven strides, excessively swing your arms, make quick directional changes without proper feet planting, etc in cardio or sports activities, you are not demonstrating good form.
Here are three things to introduce into your training to maintain good form:
- Reduce the level. This could mean decreasing speed, repetitions, or the weight load – of a combination. Continuing to practice or exercise with poor form is only going to reduce your progress and increase your risk of injury. Get rid of your ego, and reduce what you are doing. The numbers, whatever they are, will come back over time, and with better form.
- Accept frustration. Good form, in any physical activity, means taking the time to master the motion. This is not going to come overnight – and not without mistakes. Be willing to make mistakes, and be patient.
- Consider a trainer or coach. Find someone who can assess your skills, and give you honest feedback on how to improve your form. And sorry, but this coach is not YouTube. Find someone who is trained in your exercise element, and have them assess YOU (something YouTube cannot do). And be willing to accept their views. No matter how long you may have been doing the activity, they may see something you cannot feel.
Above all, remember that changing and improving your form takes time. Bad habits are hard to overcome. But your efforts will pay off, you will move more efficiently, lift more, move faster, and increase your body’s resistance to injury. Stick with it – good form is worth the effort.