The Importance of Proper Form in Exercise
12th Apr 2023
Chris Nicklin is a certified Personal Trainer with over 7 years' experience, and the owner of Nxtep Personal Training. Chris qualified from Edge Hill University with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Sports Coaching and Performance Development, and has delivered over ten thousand one-to-one Personal Training sessions.
Proper form is a crucial aspect of exercising that cannot be emphasized enough, and as a personal trainer, it’s the thing I am always repeating to my clients. It refers to the correct alignment, posture, and movement patterns during exercise, and it plays a vital role in making the most from your exercise. Whether you are lifting weights, performing cardiovascular exercises, or engaging in flexibility or functional training, maintaining proper form is essential for safe and effective workouts.
Optimum Muscle Activation: Using the correct form ensures that the right muscles are targeted during an exercise. It allows you to engage the targeted muscle group fully and effectively, engaging them fully so that you can get the most out of the exercise, leading to better results and faster muscle growth.
Reduced Joint Stress: Proper form helps to reduce the amount of stress that is placed on the joints by ensuring that the load is distributed evenly and that joint alignment is maintained. Because of this, the probability of sustaining a joint injury, such as a pull, a strain, or a dislocation, is decreased.
Injury Prevention: Poor form is one of the primary contributors to injuries sustained while exercising. Muscles, ligaments, and joints can be injured when improper alignment, posture, or movement patterns cause strain on the body’s soft tissues. Using correct form during exercise helps reduce the risk of injury by maintaining the body in a position that is both safe and stable.
Importance of Proper Form in Different Types of Exercises
Maintaining proper form is crucial in various types of exercises. Here’s why it matters in different areas of personal training:
It’s very easy to injure yourself lifting weights! So in order to ensure that the muscles being targeted are effectively engaged and that the weight is lifted in a safe manner, it is essential to lift weights using the correct form. Incorrect form can result in injuries, especially when performing heavy lifting exercises such as deadlifts or squats. Examples of incorrect form include rounding the back or using momentum rather than muscle strength.
Even in activities that focus on cardiovascular fitness, such as running, cycling, or rowing, maintaining correct form is essential. It protects against injuries caused by overuse and helps maintain the efficiency of movement. In order to ensure that the cardiovascular system is engaged to its full potential while simultaneously minimising the risk of strains or imbalances, correct posture, alignment, and movement patterns are essential.
When working on flexibility through activities like yoga or stretching, it is essential to maintain correct form in order to prevent overstretching or straining of the muscles, joints, or ligaments. Incorrect alignment or technique can lead to muscle strains, ligament sprains, or joint hyperextension. The correct form not only makes it possible to safely increase flexibility but also helps prevent injuries.
In functional training, in which exercises are designed to mimic real-life movements, having correct form is of the utmost importance. When it comes to safely performing functional movements, such as lifting, carrying, or twisting, correct alignment, posture, and movement patterns are essential. Otherwise, you run the risk of putting excessive stress on the body and incurring injuries.
Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Individuals have a tendency to perform exercises incorrectly in a number of different ways, and it is essential that they are aware of these faults and are able to correct them in order to keep their form in good shape. The following are some common errors, along with the appropriate corrections:
- Rounded back during lifting exercises: Curving the back too far forward can put an abnormal amount of strain on the spine and increase the likelihood of sustaining a back injury. To make up for this, you should strengthen the muscles in the core of your body, keep a neutral spine, and lift with your legs and hips rather than your back.
- Knees collapsing inward during squats or lunges: Instability and stress on the knee joint can be the result of letting the knees cave inward, which raises the risk of knee injuries. Engaging the glutes and outer thighs will help to correct this issue and ensure that the knees remain in proper alignment with the toes.
- Elbows flaring out during upper body exercises: If you let your elbows flare out too far, you can put strain on the joints in your shoulders, which will make the exercise less effective. To remedy this, bring the elbows in towards the body and engage the chest and triceps muscles so that the proper alignment and form are maintained throughout the exercise.
- Arching the back during core exercises: In addition to putting strain on the lower back, rounding the upper back can also make core exercises less effective. To remedy this, activate the core muscles, and ensure that you keep your spine in a neutral position throughout the entire exercise.
- Overextending or hyperextending joints: When joints such as the knees or elbows are forced to move beyond their normal range of motion, this can cause unnecessary strain on the joints and increase the likelihood of injury. In order to remedy this, you should perform your exercises in such a way as to preserve a natural range of motion and refrain from locking out any joints.
General Advice & Tips on Good Form
Attention to detail and consistent practice are both needed to maintain correct form. Listed below are some pointers that will assist you in keeping good form while you exercise:
Start with lighter weights
My biggest tip for beginners is that when beginning a new exercise or learning a new technique, you should start with lighter weights so that you can concentrate on proper form before increasing the difficulty of the exercise. This makes it possible for you to develop correct form and muscle memory without putting your safety at risk.
Seek professional guidance
If you are not used to engaging in physical activity or if you are uncertain about the appropriate form, you should think about working with a qualified personal trainer or fitness professional. They are able to offer you guidance based on their extensive experience as well as make adjustments to your form to help keep you safe from injury.
Focus on alignment and posture
Maintaining correct body alignment and posture is something you should focus on while you are working out. In order to keep your form and posture correct, you need to make sure that your spine is in a neutral position, that your shoulders are relaxed, and that your core muscles are engaged.
Use mirrors or videos
Make use of mirrors or videos so that you can visually check your form. You will then be able to identify any variances from the correct form and make the necessary corrections with this information. YouTube is a fantastic resource full of videos on form for so many exercises – so why not combine these with a large mirror to make sure you’re doing the exercise the right way?
Listen to your body
This is my other must-do tip. During an exercise, if you start to feel pain or discomfort, you should immediately stop and evaluate your form. Make the necessary adjustments to your alignment, posture, and movement patterns in order to prevent further strain or injury.
Practice mind-muscle connection
Focusing your attention during exercise on the specific muscle group you want to strengthen will help you develop a mind-muscle connection. Because of this, you will be able to activate the appropriate muscles and keep your form correct.
In conclusion, proper form is a fundamental aspect of personal training that cannot be overstated. It is essential for maximizing the benefits of exercise by making sure muscles are engaged effectively, leading to better muscle activation, strength gains, and muscle growth. It also minimizes the risk of strains, sprains, and other injuries by maintaining the body in a safe and stable position throughout the exercise.
By focusing on maintaining proper alignment, posture, and movement patterns, you can enhance the effectiveness of your workouts and ensure a safe and enjoyable fitness journey, whether that’s on your own or with a personal trainer.
If you’re interested in working with a personal trainer and you’re in the Cheshire area, please give us a call and come down for a free taster session.