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7 Tips For Improving Your Technique

Written by Alex Stevenson

As you go about your workout program, one thing that you’ll want to be sure you’re paying close attention to is the technique that you’re using on a regular basis.

Lack of good technique is one of the fastest ways to crush an otherwise proper workout program.  Sadly, many people often get into ruts where they adopt poor form, start building a habit of it, and soon, it’s very hard to correct.

By always keeping technique on the back of your mind, you can ensure this doesn’t happen to you.

Let’s go over seven quick tips that you should know and remember that will help you manage your technique.

Visualize The Muscular Contraction

The very first tip you need to start implementing in your workout routine is visualizing the muscular contractions taking place.  This is also often referred to the mind-muscle connection and refers to how well tuned in you are to your body and what is taking place.

The better you are able to really feel each muscle you’re targeting working, the better the results you’ll see.

Many people get into the habit of simply using all their might and force to lift a weight up, which in the process may recruit a number of muscles that they shouldn’t be utilizing.  This in turn means fewer results for the muscle group you are actually targeting.

Take some time to picture the muscle contracting in your mind and it’ll boost this mind-muscle connection. If that still doesn’t work, physically place your hand on the muscle (if possible) and feel it tensing up. This should help you dial in much better.

Film Yourself Working Out

Next, another step you might want to take is having someone video tape you during your workouts.  Sometimes it’s hard to really ‘feel’ what’s taking place in your body while you do each exercise, but seeing yourself on camera will make it crystal clear.

Often people will make form mistakes they aren’t even aware of and it only becomes clear to them after they’ve been filmed.

While you could simply watch yourself in the mirror as you do each exercise, keep in mind that doing so may cause you to turn your head in ways that aren’t natural for that lift, leading to risk of injury.

Filming allows you to maintain the most natural position as you go about the lift, while identifying any potential technique mistakes you might be making.

Lighten Up The Weight Once Per Month

The next step to improving your technique is to devote one workout session (for each muscle group) to lifting lighter weights each month.  During this session, focus exclusively on your technique and form.

By doing this once per month – even if you do feel like your technique is fine – you can help ensure that you aren’t building back habits.

Think of it like a routine check-up on a vehicle. You do this even if your car is still functioning properly in effort to ensure that it doesn’t start having problems.

Likewise, this technique week can be used to ensure that you continue on with your heavy lifting sessions problem free.

Remember that prevention is always the best strategy. You don’t want to wait until you’re side lined with an injury to finally realize that your technique was off.

Keep Your Core Muscles Tight

The next must-do for success with improving your technique is to always focus on keeping your core muscles contracted as best as possible.  When doing most lifts, it’s going to be critical to have a tight core to maintain optimal spinal column position and reduce the chances you allow yourself to move into poor form.

For instance, if you are doing a barbell standing shoulder press, the tight core will ensure that you don’t adopt a sway back, putting your lower back at risk of great strain.

When doing a squat, a tight core will allow you to maintain maximum peak power development at the very bottom of that lift, meaning you can push more weight upwards, seeing strength gains as a result of it.

If your core tends to be weak, this will become your weakest link as you move through your workout and may hinder you from seeing optimal progress.

Pay Attention To Momentum

Next, it’s also important that you pay attention to momentum as you go about your workout sessions. If at any point you feel like you’re driving the weight upwards using a force that is not purely muscular, it’s time to lighten the weight and check your technique.

Allowing momentum to come into play is not only going to increase your risk of injury, but also really reduce the total benefits that exercise is going to provide.

To help stop momentum entirely take a brief pause at the top and bottom of the exercise. This will eliminate the chances it’s carrying you through.

Wear Proper Footwear

The next tip would seem like an obvious one, but there are far too many people hitting the gym on a regular basis wearing improper footwear.  If your shoes are not supporting you for whatever activity you happen to be doing, it’s going to impact your technique.

For instance, you’re going to want a much different pair of shoes for running uphill sprints outdoors compared to doing heavy squats in the gym.

Don’t think that you can simply purchase any old pair of running shoes for each and every workout.  Consider breaking your workouts down and making sure that your footwear is in proper alignment with your objectives.

In addition to making sure you are using the right footwear for the activity in question, also make sure that you are changing your footwear regularly. Remember that those shoes will wear out, even if they don’t look like they have. The supportive padding can still be gone, leaving you without much support.  Regularly replacing your shoes is essential.

Know Your Body Type

Finally, the last quick tip to help you sustain better technique is to make sure that you know your body type.  Some people are just not naturally made to do certain exercises.

For instance, if you have incredibly low arms, you’re going to find that doing a barbell flat bench press is always going to make you feel awkward, and you may not even be able to sustain proper technique.

In this case, using a dumbbell flat press will be a much better option.

Likewise, some people have a very challenging time squatting properly but can deadlift without a problem.  In that case, it may be wise to focus more of your time and energy on the deadlift exercise because if you can perform it better and it feels more natural, it’s going to lead to you lifting more weight and gaining greater strength.

If it just seems like no matter what you do, there are certain exercises in the gym that just don’t have you feeling your best while performing them, don’t be afraid to find substitutes for those exercises.

Nothing says you have to do any given exercise. As long as you can find an effective way to target the particular muscle group you hope to work, you will be fine.

So keep these quick tips in mind as you work towards improving your technique.  If the issue is that you simply don’t know what proper technique is, make sure that you aren’t afraid to reach out to a local personal trainer and get assistance with this. Do this sooner rather than later so that you don’t start building up poor technique habits that then become very challenging to break later on.

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