Ask anyone that’s been in one of my group exercise classes what their biggest fear is, and the answer is unanimous: getting called out in class. Yes, I’m that ruthless, but only because I care. When you don’t have a professional overseeing and assisting with your workouts and you’re not familiar with good form, common injuries are bound to happen, including:
- Shin splints
- Muscle pull and strain
- Sprained ankles
- Shoulder and knee injuries
- Wrist sprain or dislocation
A sprained ankle can have you on the sidelines for over 2 weeks, and shin splints can put you out of commission for as long as 9 weeks!
Basically, we’re trying to avoid this:
Good form will prevent injuries and painful evenings on the couch, and it can also maximize your results, including benefits like improved muscle mass, strength, flexibility, body composition, and in the end, confidence in your body!
What Is Good Form, Anyway?
Good form actually looks a little different on everyone, because all of our bodies are shaped differently. However, when you have proper form, your whole body is working together in harmony.
One important aspect of good form is having a perfect length-tension relationship of your muscles so that there’s not too much force on any one muscle at any given time.
Essentially, you want the force to be evenly distributed throughout your body, because when it isn’t, you can suffer from those injuries we mentioned like shin splints and tendonitis.
In plain language, good form will decrease your chances of getting hurt, and it will increase your strength and energy of the movement.
3 More Benefits of Great Workout Form
While good form is all about maximizing your results while keeping you safe, there are also a ton of other benefits involved!
1. Better focus
Ever heard the phrase “Get your head in the game?” Great workout technique is your ticket to the golden city.
When you’re targeting the intended muscle groups of the exercise at hand, your results and your focus will be much better. When you improve, your confidence grows, and you’re able to really get in the zone as you make your way into the gym.
2. Better oxygen intake
Have you ever held your breath while doing an exercise? No good! That’s bad form, and it’ll make the workout harder than it has to be.
When you execute good form and breathe throughout your exercise, it will support oxygen flow, allowing you to work harder and longer than you otherwise could.
3. Build upon your progress
When you’re churning out the same great form each time, you’re building on your progress. While monotony isn’t all that exciting in life, it’s very exciting in the gym, because it’ll build upon your strength, your tone, and your overall performance.
Good Form For Common Exercises
Yeah, good form sounds great… but how do you do it? We have some advice for the common exercises you might be doing including squats, planks, pushups, crunches, and lunges.
Good Squat Form
If you have bad form when squatting you can compromise your joints, especially your knees. To have good squat form, don’t let your knees drop inward or track out over your toes. Instead, be conscious to spread your knees apart, sit back on your heals, and keep your back straight and upright.
Good Plank Form
We’ve all seen it, haven’t we? When you let your belly drop down to the floor or have your booty hiked up in the air, the plank becomes easier, but you’re not supporting your muscle groups, and you’re also not really benefiting from the exercise!
To have great form when doing a plank, tighten your core so that your stomach doesn’t drop down. You’re trying to achieve a straight line from your head to your ankles.
Pro tip: Do a plank in front of a mirror to make sure your stomach isn’t starting to sag to the floor.
Good Pushup Form
Since there are many (many) variations on a pushup, this one can be confusing. However, there are some form issues that are never acceptable in any variation of a pushup.
If you’re going hands to knees, don’t tuck your knees in too far and flare out your elbows. Keep your elbows tucked to about 45 degrees from your side, and lay out further to straighten your leg from your hip to the knee.
When you get stronger to go hands to toes, keep your core engaged, back straight (no sagging), and keep those elbows locked in place.
Good Crunch Form
When doing crunches, you want to maximize the effect of the workout to build your core muscles. Be sure to lie flat on your back – don’t pull your head forward and pick your back off the floor to assist you!
Keep your hands light on your head, elbows out, chin up, and engage your core with 100% intention. Also important – breathe! It’s common to hold your breath while holding a painful movement, but breathing will disperse oxygen and actually make the exercise easier.
Good Lunge Form
Lunges are a highly effective lower body workout that can be amped up pretty quickly. But if you don’t have the proper foundation (pun intended) you’ll only make it more difficult for all the wrong reasons.
If your knee is tracking way out over your toes on your leading leg, you’re asking for injury. Get your foot out further in front of you so your leading leg is at a 90-degree bend. Put your back foot further out as well. This engages your quads and tones your booty (win-win).
Tips to Check Your Form
Even if you’re visualizing the proper form, it’s easy for your body to deceive you.
A mirror is your best friend. Watch your form as you do the exercise, and adjust as you go. Your body will eventually develop muscle memory, and you’ll become a natural over time.
Don’t rush it! Move slowly through each exercise, allowing yourself time to truly make adjustments.
You can even go a step further by recording yourself and watching it back afterwards. And if you’re really serious about achieving optimum results, you’ll share it with a trainer or a friend who is familiar with proper form to offer you feedback and constructive criticism.If you aren’t sure if you are using the correct form in your workouts, sign up for classes at our gym or take workout classes online. Whether you’re in-person or are joining digitally, we will make sure to show you exercises with correct form!