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Form

A four letter word that can cause a lot of trouble!

I, like you, find myself falling down a hole on the internet when looking for new workouts, routines or ideas for my trips to the gym. It’s just too easy. You watch that first video and before you know it you are fifteen videos down the rabbit hole and a self-crowned ‘expert’ on calisthenics, tabata, deadlifting, dieting, recovery and everything in-between.

Watching a procession of incredibly toned specimens doing single sets gives us the impression we have all the information we need to go and do likewise at our gym the next day. However, there’s a problem.

Form.

Some of these content creators have terrible form. From a dipped head whilst planking to poor shoulder blade and elbow control throughout a set of push ups, honestly, don’t get me started!

Poor form is a momentum killer when doing any form of training. You place strain on your body in all the wrong ways, create muscle imbalances which lead to altered posture (not in a good way) which can inhibit the range of movement of particular joints and increase the risk of muscle pulls and other injuries.

Yup, you guessed it, Pilates can help with form...in a big way. Pilates helps you with alignment (which is a gamechanger when lifting), posture and core functionality (which is great for basically everything), and in my personal opinion it is must-have part of any serious training schedule.

Being able to get large weights up and down is impressive, but being able to get a medium weight up and down with good form is actually more important for long term strength, conditioning and muscle development.

So, when you are next watching your preferred athletes, fitness professionals or ridiculously ripped men or women for your inspo, check their form in four key areas...

  1. The Plank Position
    Are their elbows locked out straight or are they soft? The former puts all the strain through the ligaments around the elbow rather than using the stabilising muscles of the shoulder (and makes me want to get into the screen to correct them).
     
  2. The Push Up
    Whether a box push up or the holy grail of the full push up, watching a torso momentarily greet the floor can be like watching a horror film. It’s not about just getting the movement done, take a look at what’s going on with the spinal alignment, the shoulder position, are the elbows tucked into the side and is their head in line with that back of the shoulder blades??? So many questions right now!
     
  3. The Squat
    On this the foot and knee position is key. If there are knees coming in for some touch time, feet drifting out or even worse heels lifting up it’s time to change video for sure. It’s a big no no no!
     
  4. The Deadlift
    As a physio I remember the naughties where we were taught that any form of weighted forwards bend = disc prolapse. Now, times have changed and we have accepted that our backs are wonderfully made but all I’d say is slow and steady people and please don’t be rounding that upper back and dropping your head forwards. Respect your spine!!

Poor form in one of these areas is forgivable (we are all human), but if your video inspo of choice demonstrates poor form in two or more areas I would humbly suggest you stop repeating their workouts and start following someone else, you will risk more than you gain.

Now, with their form critiqued, how is yours? One top tip is to use mirrors in your gym. Get some space amongst those getting the right boast photo for their socials and watch what your body is actually doing when attempting to do an exercise. The truth is that it’s probably not quite doing as your brain imagined/hoped.

Dare I also say it but embracing the cringe factor of videoing yourself performing a set of whatever’s will also give you some truth, however harsh that maybe!

If you are serious about your gym game then come and visit my open classes to work on your alignment, posture, core strength and functionality. If you have specific training goals then book a 1-to-1, I would love to help you.

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