When it comes to working out, there’s one important factor people tend to overlook: form.
Many don’t see flaws in their form until they get injured. Others don’t see errors until they realize they aren’t getting any major results from their workouts.
Good form and technique can reduce injuries and make your workout more effective. Here are five common exercises where form really matters:
1. Barbell/Weighted Squats
Correct form: Set the bar comfortably on your traps (near the back of your neck). Have your feet shoulder-width apart and firmly on the ground. Gradually start to bend at the knees, making sure your knees don’t pass your feet. Keep your chest up and your back straight. Bend until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Then drive with your legs and feet into the starting position.
Where you will feel the burn: glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings
Tip: Pretend as if you are going to take a seat and change your mind. Practice a few times with your toes against a wall, making sure your knees don’t touch the wall.
2. Barbell Deadlifts
Correct form: Stand in front of the bar with your feet underneath it shoulder-width apart. Grab the bar with an overhand grip. Make sure your arms are also shoulder-width apart and fully extended. Keep your back straight, your shoulders pinched, and lean back with your hips. Push up with your knees and heels to stand up-right. When you are nearly standing, move your hips forward onto the bar. Then return to starting position.
Where you will feel the burn: hamstrings, glutes and lower back
Tip: Focus mainly on driving with your heels when you stand up.
3. Barbell Bench Press
Correct form: Lay on the bench with the bar at eye level. Grip the bar with your palms facing forward, and have them a little more than shoulder-width apart. Lift the bar off the rack, extend your arms, and bring it to the middle of your chest. Make sure your elbows are to your sides at a 45-degree angle. Pinch your shoulder blades, and keep your back slightly arched. Push the weight outward into the starting position by using your feet to help drive the weight.
Where you will feel the burn: chest
Tip: Don’t lock your elbows when going back into the starting positon.
Correct form: Face down; place your hands a little more than shoulder-width apart. Hold up your torso, and keep your back straight, your arms extended and your legs closed. Lower your body until your chest almost touches the floor. Keep your arms at a 45-degree angle on each side, and push up into the starting position by fully extending your arms.
Where you will feel the burn: core, chest and arms
Tip: The position of your hands can determine the area you want to focus on. Wide placement will work your chest while close placement will work your triceps.
Correct form: Grasp the bar with an overhand grip and your hands about shoulder-width apart. Extend your arms, and let your body hang. Then pull your body up, reaching your chest to the bar and your chin over it. Be sure to keep your body straight, and pinch your shoulder blades; don’t swing or let your feet hit the floor.
Where you will feel the burn: back
Tip: Pull your elbows toward your front when you pull up. Flaring them out can cause shoulder damage.
Trust me, if your form is on point, you’ll feel it in the morning. You know what they say, your better sore than sorry.