Good form is essential to prevent injury and maximize results.
Good form is about using the right muscles and alignment to prevent injuries and to get the maximum benefit from exercise.
It doesn’t matter how fast you go, how much weight you can lift or whether you can do the full expression of the pose or movement. Good form starts with learning good posture, technique and the modifications for your fitness level. Once you know what good posture and technique feels like you will know when to modify a movement or pose, use a lighter weight or reduce your speed.
Four ways to develop and enhance your form for maximum benefit
1/ Private Lessons
Privates require an investment but are probably one of the best ways to get a baseline on your alignment and technique and to learn the modifications for your fitness level. If you are starting a new sport or workout, it is good investment. Even if you’ve been doing the same workout for years, there are always things that you can learn to get better results and prevent injury.
2/ Specialized Studios
Studios that teach Pilates, Barre or certain styles of yoga such as Iyengar and Hatha, provide a really good opportunity to build body awareness. The purpose of these workouts is to strengthen and lengthen muscles needed for good posture. Most studios offer different levels and the instructors are good about correcting your form and suggesting modifications during mixed classes. Learning the exercises and sequences happens pretty quickly but developing strength, flexibility and awareness requires practice.
3/ Small Group Classes
Small group classes are another good option especially if everyone is starting at the same level. The key to making these classes really effective is having a goal and asking the instructor for some input on what you need to do to achieve it. Your goal could be as simple as perfecting your push up. Not an easy goal but a good one for improving form.
4/ Large Classes
Large mixed level classes are generally not the best place to learn form, but any class is better than no class. Ask the instructor for modifications prior to class, listen carefully to the verbal cues and use the mirrors when possible to monitor your own form.
Three things to keep in mind while you workout
1/ Stack your bones. When your bones are “stacked” your muscles don’t have to work as hard to support you.
2/ Don’t hang in your muscles. Think about what muscles could support the movement or pose and try to engage them.
3/ Take what you need from an exercise. Do what you can each day and don’t worry about the rest. It will come.
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