December 28. 2016

Going from 0 to 60

Recently I've been thinking a lot about injury prevention, form and the differences between working hard and working effectively. There's a trend I see in the gyms, and have seen for as long as I can remember. The alpha male trend. One guy will be lifting something heavy, so the guy next to him has to equal it or outdo it in some way. They both huff their chests, drop their weights and high five. Not really, but that's what it feels like sometimes. 

There's a trend of who can outwork who, or who is the strongest. It's a competition. Which is totally fine for the most part. The problem lies in non seasoned lifters. You get a bunch of kids around the holidays off from college, and not all of them have been lifting consistently or as long as the guys who come in everyday. I watch these kids try to match everyone else. Some of them are fine, I'm talking about the ones with inexperience who just feel like they have to do the same as everyone else around them. What happens is one guy lifts, then another guy does, but only one of the two have proper form. Now I'm not an extremist on form, but I have learned throughout the years how important it is. I've also learned how to manipulate it to my benefit when it doesn't seem perfect. 

So what's the big deal? One guy's lift is just as good as another's right? Wrong, very wrong. The issue is that without proper form, you are prone to injury. There are rules to lifting, believe it or not, and having proper form is one of them. Is it fun to have good form? Not always on all lifts. Sometimes you'll find that you cannot lift as much because you've been compensating with other muscle groups to push weight that you're not strong enough to lift. I'll give you an example.

Bench press is one of the most effective and easiest ways to get hurt in the gym. As simple as the exercise is, there are so many ways to injury yourself doing it, it's insane. Often times I'll see someone load up a bunch of weight, they'll bring it down (usually not even with a spotter) and press it up. Seems great. One issue. They are working wrong all the way up the kinetic chain. Guys that lift their entire lower half off the bench to press the weight up. Hips thrusting upward in an attempt to gain some momentum to push something they shouldn't be under. Or someone with one arm pushing great and the other lagging way being. I see it constantly and it is the path to injury I assure you. 

I could get into the form a bit and tell you what I believe to be proper based for numerous reasons, and I will do so perhaps in a video down the road. Today however, I just want to instill in you to pay attention. If you are lifting and it hurts, there is a darn good chance you are doing it wrong. If you are doing lunges, and they hurt, not burn, but hurt, then you probably should either not being doing them or are doing them totally incorrectly. 

So what? Well, it's kind of a big deal believe it or not. Improper bench techniques and lifting in general, lead to a number of issues. One being muscle imbalance, which honestly I believe the bench creates those anyway (and I love bench press). The other being numerous injuries from head to toe. Think about it. The bench press starts at your feet. You have to have them properly planted to get a good lift, if you don't, then you are more prone to injury from toe to head and vice versa. I can tell you from experience of having injuries while bench pressing, form is everything.

What do you do if you just don't know the proper form? You want to do the lift and you cannot figure it out or you're second guessing  yourself. There are several things you can do. First you could hire a trainer or a coach to teach you proper lifting techniques. If you cannot afford that, then there are places like you can go to and view the proper ways. You can ask an experienced friend or even someone in the gym if they are open to helping. I know that I for one, would love to help some young guys lift better. I watch them lift wrong constantly but I'm not going to intrude if they do not want my help. I am open to helping though. 

Form and then function. You have to have A to get to B. It's that simple. If you want to get the most out of your exercises and not hate the way they make you feel, then form is key. 

If you are new to the gym atmosphere, just know this. You do not have to be at the same level as everyone else. It's ok. Go at your pace and do you. Forget the pride aspect of exercise and use your noggin. Start out slow and gradually build up with time. We are not machines and we are not built like machines. So there's no need to push like there's no tomorrow, because there is. If you get in a great workout, but you lifted less than everyone else in that gym, who cares?? It's about time under tension. That's what's important and that's what builds muscle density and strength. 

So the next time you're in the gym, those of you that are inexperience of hell even those of you that are, take a second and check yourself. See if you're using proper form and getting the optimal benefit from your lifts or if you're just moving weight. Correct what you can and really focus on hitting those muscle. 

I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday and is ready to get back to it!!

Until next time,

Adam Hartley Co-Owner/Coach for exercise and nutrition programs

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