Proper Form: Why it’s so important, what is proper form, and how it works

This post discusses the importance of proper form. I will cover what proper form is, the benefits of using proper form, as well as what could occur if you do not use it. And finally, I discuss some tips on how to maintain proper form in exercise and in your daily life.

Have you ever tweaked a muscle while working out, or wondered if your doing an exercise correctly? I’ve had these experiences a long time ago, when I started working out for the first time at age 14. Fortunately, I had experienced people around me to help correct what I was doing wrong. After 21 years of hitting the weights, cross training, running, cycling, kayaking, Yoga, Tai Chi, various other activities, and reading numerous books on athletic performance, I developed a good understanding of Kinesiology (the study of the mechanics of body movement).

On recent trips to the gym, I have seen people lifting too much weight. This sacrifices their form, in some misguided attempt at trying to get results fast, trying to look cool, or perhaps they simply didn’t know any better. Regardless, they were not going to achieve any of their intended objectives. Most recently, I witnessed what appeared to be a father teaching his teenage son how to lift weights. When they exercised together, they were both performing the movements so horribly incorrect, it made me cringe. I was tempted to walk over there and give them some pointers, but since the dad was doing the dad thing, I didn’t want to be that guy. After seeing so much of this, I decided to write this clarification, in hope that it will help people work out with better form, and achieve their desired physique more efficiently.

What is meant by proper form?

Proper form is a specific way of performing a movement, often a strength training exercise, to avoid injury, prevent cheating and increase strength. With a simple description of how to stand properly, one may glean the purpose of proper form. From a standing position (arms down), proper form is when you have vertical alignment of your spine (your spine has a natural curve, so as straight as you can manage), your shoulders are back and sloped down, your head is positioned back (so your neck is vertical) with the crown elevated and your chin slightly down, chest is lifted, hips are tucked in, gluts are flexed, feet are shoulder width apart, knees are slightly bent, with a small effort to separate your knees (which assists in maintaining a proper stance and arch of your feet). Continue reading “Proper Form: Why it’s so important, what is proper form, and how it works”