When it comes to any form of exercise (movement), form and technique are rarely given the amount of attention they deserves. Many people are caught up on just performing the movement and rushing to get through the routine. There are many exercises that have different interpretations so this can be tricky.
After a certain amount of practice with a fitness professional, you want to be able to perform an exercise so efficiently — in the fitness business that is called “owning the movement.”
1. Exercising with correct technique: This makes all the difference to make it effective and produce results. Getting the proper body alignment, foot stance, and upper body positioning is a major component in making exercise productive. Even on machines there is a proper alignment being seated or standing.
2. Proper breathing while doing the movement: Work with a professional fitness instructor to get their take on breathing to help make the movement more results-producing and safe.
3. Proper repetition tempo: With weights, the first digit (3) is always the eccentric (lowering or negative) portion of the lift. (For example, in a bench press that would be bringing the bar down to your chest for a count of 3 seconds.)
The second digit (1) represents the mid-point of the lift. (Again, in the bench press you would hold the bar on your chest for 1 second before pressing.)
The third digit (3) would be the concentric (lifting or positive) portion of the lift. (This would be pressing the bar off your chest for a count of 3 seconds.)
The fourth digit (0)— which will not always be used — represents the time at the top of the lift. When there is no fourth number, or in this case with a 0, there is no time spent at the top of the lift.
4. Intensity is a factor in proper technique: When form and function of an exercise decrease, you must be able to notice this and stop the movement!
5. Safety and proper technique go hand in hand. This is why having the knowledge to understand the movement and performing it properly can make all the difference. There is a fine line between intensity, proper form, and using the correct resistance.
Find a fitness trainer who really takes the time to teach you correct form. Make sure your trainer catches your mistakes and stops to correct and re-teach the movement.
When you do an exercise correctly, you will get the benefits of your labor and hard work.
Michael Metchikian CPT, CES, CNC, NASM
Michael Metchikian CPT and his company FiveWayFitness.com is located in Cliffside Park, New Jersey. He works with clients on weight loss, injury rehabilitation, pain free movement, and strength training for adults.