"Practice puts brains in your muscles." Sam Snead
It doesn’t matter if your goal is to increase muscle mass, become stronger, get fitter or reduce body fat, technique is important regardless.
The most significant reason for correct technique is to avoid injury. Apart from experiencing pain when injuring yourself, it will also have a negative effect on your overall goals because you will not be able to train. This can then result in you giving up exercise all together and going back to your old ways.
What often causes poor technique?
Poor movement patterns
Weight to heavy
Training under fatigue
The human body moves in certain ways and by moving in these correct ways we are able to perform tasks or in this instance exercises for many repetitions without causing harm to the body. Correct movement patterns allow you to lift more weight, resulting in becoming stronger and increasing more muscle mass (more toned). This is because you are able to perform the exercise more efficiently, saving energy and more consistency because you have reduced the risk of injury.
Once you have achieved good technique always make sure you review it every so often because it can be easy for bad habits to slip back in. Adding too much weight to the exercise to quickly can result in you losing your form and not recruiting the correct muscles. Another common cause I often see is when people are training under fatigue. This could just be from not taking long enough rests between sets or it could be the try of exercise you are performing. For example, HIIT (high intensity interval training) deliberately has shorter rests periods and forces you to work under fatigue. This is a great training tool for improving fitness and weight loss etc, but not so good when you are fairly new to exercise and only just getting to terms with basic movement patens like a squat for instance.
If your body can move in lots of different ways why does it matter how you do it?
In my opinion there is a difference between performing a movement as a one-off, or performing a movement for numerous repetitions. It is all about weighing up the risk reward.
Imagine you are being chased by an angry bear and the only way you can escape is by jumping off a 20 foot wall. The risk is that you may seriously injure yourself by breaking both your legs, but the reward is that you haven’t been eaten by a bear.
Now apply this same context to a certain exercise you perform in the gym. You could potentially lift more weight when performing a deadlift by rounding your back but the risk would be that you seriously damage your back and can no longer train for a while. The reward would be that you can tell all your friends how much you can now lift.
Do you still think this risk is worth the reward?
“if you bend a wire coat hanger back and forth it eventually breaks due to metal fatigue. In the spine, the matrix binding the disc collagen fibers together will fatigue and delaminations occur. The nucleus starts to work itself through these breached delaminations with repeated bends. My research team was the first to quantify this back in 2007.” Stuart Mcgill
What should I do if I want to reduce the risk of injury and make sure my technique is correct?
Always start with just body weight. By reducing the external load you are also reducing the risk of injury and this is a great place to start while you work on your basic movement patterns.
Focus on the four main movement patterns:
Along with these movements also focus on training your core the following types of exercises: