If you're a weight lifter, you already know that the most important aspect of any weight lifting routine is practicing good form.
Improper form will not only work the wrong muscles but it could also cause serious injury. For example, if you perform a chest or bench press incorrectly, you may end up using your shoulders and triceps, not your chest. Poor squat form can cause you to throw out your back. And so on.
If you're just starting a weight lifting routine and you're unsure of the proper form, it's a good idea to consult a personal trainer before getting started.
Here are a few tips on form during some specific exercises to get you started.
Before you start lifting, a solid piece of advice is to simply stand up straight. Start with proper posture and maintain that through your whole workout.
During lunges, make sure to stay statue still from the waist up--a stable core prevents movement and decreases the chance of injury in your back or hips.
While performing a bench press, don't let your legs, hips, or spine move. Use a mirror to watch your arms and lower the bar until your elbows are at the same level as your shoulders (elbow joint to shoulder joint). To use a standard grip, just make sure your wrists are over your elbows. Your upper arms will be parallel to the floor and your forearms should be perpendicular to the floor.
During a barbell curl, you should keep your elbows pulled back toward your body. Your elbow and shoulder will align and your elbow will remain below your shoulder. If your elbows are in front of your shoulders, then you are forcing the anterior deltoids to perform the work and shifting tension from the biceps to the shoulder which you don't want to do.
General Alignment Tips:
While every exercise has its own posture and form, here are some alignment tips to follow no matter your workout.
- Your lower back should generally remain flat or slightly concave
- For most exercises, push your chest out and pull your shoulder blades together
- When torso alignment is needed, tilt the pelvis forward slightly to straighten your lower back
- Align all major joints in the horizontal or vertical plane
- Never arch your back
- Never strain your neck
- Never rock your body back and forth to generate momentum
- Maintain proper breathing: exhale forcefully through your mouth as lift the weight and inhale through your nose as you lower it
- Don't hold your breath
The Right Shoes
While you don't need a specific shoe for weight training (some lifts, like squats, are sometimes better performed without shoes), they can be helpful. Weightlifting shoes have a lifted heel which will increase the ankle's range of motion and the ability to stretch the Achilles. If you have a hard time sitting down into a squat, they can help you get more depth. They also give you a solid and stable surface to allow you to get more power behind your lifts.
It's important to avoid sneakers with any sort of cushioning, like running shoes, because your feet will sink into the cushion and absorb some of the force you might need for the lift. If you have flat feet or any other type of condition that requires you to wear insoles, you may need to shave the heel of any weight lifting shoe you purchase in order to avoid extra lift in the heel.
It's important to note that you shouldn't wear your weightlifting shoes at home or during everyday activities. If you need to work on your alignment during your everyday activities in order to improve during your workout, Orange Insoles could help. While you don't want to add them to weightlifting shoes, they're the perfect addition for walking, running, or work shoes.