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How Important Is Good Form When Working Out?

Have you ever wondered how important good form is when working out? I can still remember one of my first times in the gym, when I was about 19. I was happily working away on the chest press machine, when a fellow gym goer leant over and whispered, “You need to use your arms more, not your legs.” I quickly corrected myself and, despite a bruised ego, noticed a big difference in how the exercise felt.
Ask any personal trainer and they’ll tell you proper form is essential. But why is it so important?

Proper form prevents injuries

This is the big one: bad form when working out can cause injuries. For instance, you might be putting pressure on your neck during sit-ups. Or your knees might go wonky in a squat. You may not notice it at the time, but this can lead to misalignment in the body – and later cause strains or damage to your muscles, joints or tendons.
Sure, you’re building strength. But you might be strengthening your body in the wrong way.  

Good form means a better workout

We’ve all seen the funny videos on YouTube of people using gym equipment wrong. But aside from the potential for injury, targeting the wrong muscles – or muscles in the wrong way – may mean you don’t get the best results. Take my previous example: my legs were doing all the work, and my chest and back were taking a nice little vacation. But of course that’s not the point of the chest press machine! Once I corrected my form, I targeted the correct muscles and got more out of my workout.  

How to practise good form

Of course the question is: how do you know if you’re using good form or not? One way to know for sure is to ask a personal trainer to show you the ropes. If you already belong to a gym, there should be staff on hand who can check your alignment and form.
Another tip is to start exercises with no weight at all. Then once you get your form correct, add weight. This can help minimise the risk of injury when starting out.

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