Good Form = Great Gains

Form. It’s what I’d call one of those little things that makes a big difference.

One of the most important things to focus on not only when you are new to exercise, but at any time, is the positioning of your body – what is commonly referred to as your “form.” It’s an easy way to make your workout more effective, lessen your chances of injury, and, quite honestly, keep you from looking like you don’t know what you’re doing.

I’ll admit to being a bit of a stickler for form. If you’ve ever taken a class with me, undoubtedly you’ve had to endure the repeated chorus of “use your muscle, not your momentum,” “tuck your bellybutton into your spine,” “drop your shoulders down into your back pockets,” “keep your heads up,” “make sure your arms line up with [fill in the blank],” or one of the many other form cues I have a tendency to throw out there. I can blame – and thank – a particularly fantastic trainer I worked with several years ago, who to this day I still credit for teaching me all the little form, routine and nutrition tricks that really do have a huge impact on my workouts today.

That said, here are a couple quick little fixes that can help you get the most out of your workouts, with less chance of ending up with an injury:

  • Stand up straight. It doesn’t matter if you’re lifting, running, walking, or doing something else upright. It makes me INSANE when I see someone crunched over a cardio machine (You know why it feels easier? Because it is. Don’t be lazy.) The more you focus on your posture, the better your body will feel both during and after. Remember: pick standing over seated when you can – it engages the core muscles for a little extra work.
  • Think about your joints. Keep your elbows tight to your sides for bicep curls. Focus on keeping your shoulders down and lifting with your wrists for lateral raises. And whatever you do, don’t let your shoulders creep up into your ears (it’s terrible for your neck)!
  • Be aware of your core. There’s a reason it’s called a core – it is the center of your body, the powerhouse for everything you do. A tight core means stabilized muscles … which are easier to control … which are easier to keep in good form. This is exactly why I recommend Pilates for everyone – it strengthens the core (abs, back, hips), which is only going to make it easier for you to strengthen everything else.
  • Don’t be afraid to start light. I know, women are constantly being told not to be afraid to lift heavy, and men aren’t going to be seen lifting 10 lb. weights. But it’s always best to lift a little lighter than you think you really need to if you are new to something (or trying to correct form). It’ll help you build muscle memory … meaning good form can come naturally from there on out.

Take a little time to focus on your form during your next workout. It may feel a little different at first – but that’s a good thing! And please, PLEASE … stop hanging all over those cardio machines and throwing your weights. You people kill me.

16 thoughts on “Good Form = Great Gains

  1. Couldn’t agree more. I see people crunching over the elliptical trainer all the time, and it drives me insane.

      • SO much fun! I got a crazy adrenaline rush from it. I laughed because at the time I didn’t think it did much to me, but then later in the evening I could feel it in my glutes and pretty much everywhere! I loved it and can’t wait to do it again!

  2. Yes!!! I cannot stand when people hunch on the Stairmaster! Ugh!!! This was a very informative post, what a great reminder for everyone; including myself! I’ll put a link to your site in my post this afternoon, I really like this!

  3. Pingback: Good Form = Great Gains « Jali Henry Personal Trainer

    • It really does make such a big difference. There are so many more muscles you could be using just by standing instead! Thanks for passing this along 🙂

  4. “And please, PLEASE … stop hanging all over those cardio machines and throwing your weights. You people kill me.”

    Couldn’t have said it better (and thanks for the laugh)!! I have to admit, I’m paying SO much more attention to my own form now that I’m teaching too and it makes all the difference in the world.

    • It’s so true! Sometimes I feel like some of my cues are for myself just as much as they are for them (“breathe!” Is the big one as of late). How is your class going? Are you so much more in live with teaching than you would have imagined?

  5. Seriously, me too! I do LOVE it! It’s different for me, because I’m not teaching a “traditional” class, so it took me some getting used to to see that I don’t need to be over the top and intense like I’m used to! Haha. A lot of what I’m used to just from taking so many group ex classes has to be reworked to fit the needs of everyone there. But that almost makes it more rewarding, because I completely understand the gains my class members are experiencing…because I’ve been there!

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