Technique is key

There is no new lesson in this chapter, merely a reiteration of two previously made points. In the beginning your body will still progress even if you lift incorrectly. Some lifters in your gym will likely be using poor technique. This lesson cannot be stressed enough: good technique is of the most paramount importance.

As we’ve just covered, lifts should be done with good form which means finding out what good form is. I have seen stronger lifters than myself in the gym resting the bar on the wrong part of their traps when squatting, and doing the most lazy excuse for a half downward motion. Some will practically bounce the bar rather than lowering to a stationary position in a controlled manner.

Performing the full range of motion not only strengthens whole muscles, but it means the lift is perfectly balanced so you don’t create asymmetry within yourself. Partial movements within lifts will contract muscles reducing your range of motion. It’s a good idea to stretch muscles after a workout but if you’re happy with your current flexibility, weight lifting with good form won’t reduce it. Ignore techniques that are artificially hard which people use to “mix things up” e.g. overhead presses where the bar is lowered behind the head. In most cases do the lift properly and if you cannot at, say, 50kg, reduce the weight until you can.

Watch videos from the best, read the descriptions from trainers who worked with thousands.

The only injuries I’ve had in my time lifting weights have come from poor form. Squatting with the bar practically on my neck with my knees moving inward, and expecting the lower back to do too much. Likewise leaning back to get a full extension on the overhead press when the body should remain perfectly upright. I had difficulty bending down to put on shoes for about a year after I reached for that final 60kg overhead press rep with terrible form. When starting out lifting you can have poor technique and you’ll still progress without issue. It’s only when you lift heavy weights and put major stress through this poor form that your body gets into problems.

Part of starting to lift lighter weights in the beginning is about cementing good technique into your routine before you lift at your limit. It’s important to work on good technique when you start, not when you start lifting heavy weights.

In closing, I want to highlight the difference between perfect form and good form. The last rep of a set will always be less certain or controlled than the first, and that’s ok. Make lifting at a given weight perfect form by making it your warm up. You do that by progressing training so you lift heavier and heavier weights. If you know that you’re not making your lifts with at least good form, then don’t proceed to heavier, but drop to where you’re doing the lifts correctly.