Form is everything when it comes to exercise. And I am serious. Dead serious. If your form is not correct, you are doing yourself a major disservice because you are leaving yourself more susceptible to injury, and you are not getting the most out of your workout. I don’t know about you, but if I am going to put the time in, I better suck out every last drop of goodness from it. I ain’t got no time to waste.
So let’s chat about it shall we? I realize this can be a very dry subject, but I will try to keep it interesting.
First of all, it is essential that you engage your mind when exercising. I realize that it is pretty easy to zone out during your workout because your body is doing a large part of the work. Plus, have you ever noticed that it is pretty difficult to get your mind to function properly when you are sweating it out? I mean three year old kids would be ashamed at our capabilities of counting to 10 when we are trying to keep track of reps. Side note…there is actually a reason for this: when you exercise, most of the blood in your body gets transferred to your muscles because they need it to do the work, but that means your brain is left with no oxygen so putting your thinking cap on takes quite a bit of work.
Anyway back to the topic at hand, as difficult as it may seem, it is very important to concentrate and focus when exercising. Connect your mind to the movement, and think about the muscles that are engaging. It matters. It makes a difference.
Second, try to perform the movement correctly. So often, we consciously or subconsciously do things to make the exercise easier. If that is going on, I can almost guarantee that your technique leaves a lot to be desired. News flash…I am not sure if you knew this or not, but exercise is meant to be hard. If you wanted easy, I heard bingo is pretty fun. In all seriousness though, try to do the movement well. Don’t cut corners to make it easier on yourself. That is just plain laziness.
This means that you will often have to slow down in order to get it right, and that is A-OK! Form always comes before speed no matter what. Period. There are no exceptions. Quality always before quantity. Remember that intensity and the quality of a workout is not always measured by speed. It definitely can be, but a workout and/or exercise doesn’t always need to be grease lightening to be effective, and sometimes it shouldn’t be!
When trying to perfect the correct technique, I believe it is best to start at the most basic foundational movements because all exercises stem from a few basic patterns. I wanted to give you a few cues on these so that you have something to work on. Some of you may have to “undo” bad habits that have been solidified for years.
– Drive your weight through your heels like your are nailing them into the ground.
– Make sure your knees do not collapse in (valgus). In order to practice, place a mini resistance band just above your knees and place pressure against it without letting your knees buckle.
– Generally, you want to keep your knees behind your toes. There are exceptions, and the main thing is to keep the weight in your heels.
– Engage your transvers abdominis by pulling your bully button back into your spine and wrapping your ribs around it.
– Activate your glutes.
– Even though they are in the air, think about driving your heels toward the ground and keeping your legs engaged.
– If you are in a low plank on your forearms, keep your hands apart. Do not clasp them together.
– Keep your whole body in a straight line. Don’t drop your head, sway your lower back or hunch through your upper, mid back.
– In the picture below, the top is incorrect while the bottom is correct.
– Use the same cues as the plank because after all a push-up is just a moving plank.
– Lower your body evenly. Your quads should not hit before your chest.
– Keep your fingers spread.
– Think of your feet on a double yellow line – one foot on one and one foot on another. Do not have them directly in line with each other.
– Keep your front knee behind your front toe.
– Do not let your front knee valgus or buckle in.
– Make sure your hips are in alignment.
– Keep your legs straight, but not locked.
– Push your butt back to go lower in the movement. Do not round/hunch at the shoulders.
– Try the broom trick in the video below! You want the broom to touch your head, mid back and butt at all times.
So there are a few basics for you to get started. The main thing is that you concentrate and put in the effort, and if you have questions, ask a professional!