It is interesting to walk into a gym and watch how people exercise. Some people hurry through their reps, while others are very slow and precise. Some look as though they are using their entire body when exercising, while some are very still and have few moving parts. The common theme is that people can look very different when performing the same exercise. So, you might be asking, which is the best way?
I’m glad you asked, because I am very passionate about performing exercises correctly. First of all, it’s important to do things correctly so you do not injure yourself. Using poor form, or too much weight with an exercise (which will create poor form) will often lead to injuries. Secondly, using incorrect form involves compensation, which we will discuss further. Third, if you hurry through your reps, you will not get nearly as much benefit as if you do slow, controlled reps.
Let’s examine each of these points further. In terms of form, we want to not only perform the exercise correctly in order to achieve the desired results, but we also don’t want to injure ourselves. Proper exercise technique not only maximizes the benefit of the exercise, but it puts you in the safest position to perform the exercise. Using the proper amount of weight will allow you to use correct form and avoid compensation, which can lead to injury.
People often compensate when they have a weak muscle or group of muscles. The body is very good at compensating, but unfortunately long term compensation will lead to dysfunction, which leads to pain. An example would be someone with shoulder weakness. Say they are performing shoulder presses, and the shoulder cannot handle the amount of stress that is being placed upon it. The brain will tell other muscles to help, which could include the neck muscles or even the low back. Continued performance of this compensation can lead to issues in other areas of the body.
Tempo of exercise is also important. The most common error is to perform the exercise too fast. This often involves using momentum to swing the weight upward, and allowing the weight to fall back down. Proper technique involves controlling the weight; lifting it slowly and precisely, then lowering it down slowly and precisely. Slow, controlled exercise is much more safe and effective. I would much rather see someone perform 10 slow, controlled reps than 30 fast, uncontrolled reps.
That is just a quick summary of the importance of exercise form. If you would like more information, or would like to have us check out your exercise form, we have the PT’s for you! Give us a call at 616-662-0990 and we’ll make sure that you’re getting the maximum benefit from your exercises!
By: Mason Riegel, PT
FMS Level 1 & 2 Certified, SFMA Certified
Steve Bartz, PT