Exercise plays a vital role in our lives. It enhances our health, boosts our immune system, reduces stress, improves our mood, and even helps in maintaining healthy body weight. However, while engaging in physical activities is beneficial, it is equally essential to perform them correctly. The proper form in your workout significantly impacts the efficiency of the workout, reduces the risk of injuries, and helps us on our fitness journey.
First, the most significant benefit of maintaining proper form is injury prevention. Incorrect form or posture during exercise can cause acute or chronic injuries. For example, rounding the back during deadlifts can cause severe damage to the lower back. Similarly, flaring the elbows out during bench presses can strain the shoulder joints. Incorrect form often shifts the intended strain from the target muscle group to the joints, which are not built to handle high loads, thus increasing the risk of injuries.
Second, proper form ensures the efficiency of the exercise. Each exercise targets specific muscle groups. Incorrect form can shift the focus from the intended muscle group to other muscles, making the exercise less effective. For instance, if one performs squats without keeping their back straight, the strain intended for the quadriceps might get transferred to the lower back, reducing the exercise’s effectiveness. By using the correct form, we ensure that the right muscles are targeted, and we are getting the most out of our workouts.
Third, maintaining proper form improves muscle and strength development. The body’s muscles work together as a system. When you engage in exercise with proper form, you allow the muscles to function as they were designed. This coordinated effort results in balanced muscle growth and strength development. Correct form enables full range of motion, which leads to more significant muscle recruitment and better overall progress.
Proper form also leads to improved body biomechanics and posture. Regular exercise with the correct form leads to the strengthening of the core muscles, which play a crucial role in maintaining our body posture. Improved body posture can lead to better balance, reduced fatigue, and a lower risk of falls and injuries. This not only helps in performing daily activities with ease but also plays a crucial role in aging gracefully.
Practicing the correct form trains the mind-body connection. As we focus on performing an exercise correctly, we become more aware of our bodies. This heightened awareness, often termed ‘proprioception‘, allows us to coordinate our movements better, improving our overall athletic performance.
Last, the proper form helps in setting realistic and achievable fitness goals. With improper form, we might seem to progress rapidly, lifting heavier weights, for example, but this can be misleading and harmful in the long run. On the contrary, with correct form, we might progress slowly, but the progress is steady, safer, and more beneficial in the long run.
While the importance of exercise for our overall health cannot be overstated, the way we exercise holds equal importance. The correct form in exercise is not just about getting the most out of our workouts, but it is about safety, efficiency, and holistic development. It is about laying a strong, injury-free foundation on which we can build our health and fitness. It might take some extra time and effort to learn the correct form, but it’s a worthwhile investment for long-term benefits. After all, exercising is not only about doing more but also about doing it right.
Forms of exercise
Exercise is a broad term that includes various forms of physical activity designed to improve fitness, health, and well-being. Here are some common forms of exercise:
- Aerobic Exercise: Also known as cardiovascular or endurance activities, these exercises increase your breathing and heart rate, improving overall fitness. Examples include running, biking, swimming, and brisk walking.
- Strength Training: This form of exercise focuses on using resistance to induce muscular contraction, which builds the strength and size of skeletal muscles. Lifting weights, using resistance bands, or bodyweight exercises like push-ups and squats are typical examples.
- Flexibility Exercises: These help enhance the range of motion of muscles and joints. Stretching exercises, yoga, and Tai chi fall under this category.
- Balance Exercises: Balance exercises help prevent falls, a common problem in older adults and people with certain health conditions. It can be a part of many physical activities such as yoga and Tai Chi.
- High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): This form of exercise combines short, high-intensity bursts of speed with slow recovery phases repeated during one exercise session.
- Functional Fitness Training: This is a form of exercise that trains your muscles to work together and prepares them for daily tasks by simulating common movements you might do at home or work.
- Calisthenics: This is a form of bodyweight training requiring no equipment. Common exercises are lunges, sit-ups, push-ups, and jump squats.
- Pilates: A method of exercise that consists of low-impact flexibility, muscular strength, and endurance movements. Pilates emphasizes proper postural alignment, core strength, and muscle balance.
- CrossFit: A high-intensity fitness training program that combines elements of cardio, weight lifting, and core training.
- Aquatic Exercise: Exercises performed in water for relaxation, fitness, physical rehabilitation, and other therapeutic benefits. This is particularly helpful for people with arthritis and other joint problems.
Remember, it’s important to incorporate a mix of these forms into your fitness routine. It’s also crucial to consult with a healthcare provider or fitness professional to decide which types and amounts of exercise are safe and suitable for you.
Perfecting squat form
Squats are one of the most beneficial exercises you can do. They help strengthen your body for everyday living. And if you have mobility issues, they will get you moving and keep you moving. We don’t recommend squatting with big weights, but rather using your own bodyweight to do bodyweight squats. Perfecting the squat form is essential for maximizing workout efficiency, injury prevention, and ensuring optimal muscle engagement. Below are some steps to help you achieve a perfect squat form:
- Foot Position: Stand with your feet hip-width apart or slightly wider. Your feet should be flat on the ground. You can turn your toes out slightly if it feels more comfortable.
- Spine and Chest Position: Maintain a neutral spine. Keep your chest up and out, your shoulders back, and look straight ahead. This helps ensure your back stays in a safe position during the squat.
- Start the Movement: Initiate the squat by pushing your hips back, as if you’re about to sit on a chair. The hips should hinge back while the knees begin to bend. You can use a chair if you need to for this exercise.
- Lowering Phase: As you continue to push your hips back, lower your body. Aim to keep your thighs parallel to the floor. Make sure your knees are in line with your feet, not caving inward or going too far over your toes.
- Depth: Try to lower your hips below knee level, or as far as you can while maintaining good form, whichever comes first. However, only go as deep as comfortable, maintaining proper form is more important than achieving a certain depth.
- Engage Your Core: Throughout the movement, keep your core engaged. This can help maintain your balance and protect your spine.
- Pushing Up: Drive through your heels to stand back up, extending your hips and knees. Keep your chest up and your back straight.
- Breathing: It’s important to breathe correctly while squatting. Inhale as you lower your body, and exhale as you push up.
A few additional tips:
- Do not let your knees collapse inward.
- Do not lift your heels off the ground.
- Avoid rounding your back.
To perfect your form, you can practice squats in front of a mirror to monitor your form. Once you feel confident about your form, you can gradually add weight. Just remember, it’s not necessary to add a lot of weight for this exercise to benefit every part of your life.
If you are unsure about your form or have any physical issues that might affect your ability to squat, consider seeking help from a fitness professional such as a certified personal trainer. They can provide you with personalized guidance to ensure that your squat form is correct and safe.
I am an ACE certified personal trainer in Muskogee, so if you are in the area, give me a call at 918 360 1765 to make an appointment with me. I’d be glad to help. I train at Strictly Fitness and for home-bound clients, I come to you. Check out my website here.
Plank form for beginners
The plank is an excellent exercise for building core strength, and it can be easily modified for beginners. Here are the steps to perform a plank correctly:
- Start Position: Begin on all fours, knees under your hips and wrists under your shoulders.
- Step Forward: Extend your legs one at a time until you’re in a high push-up position. Your hands should be directly beneath your shoulders and your feet hip-width apart.
- Align Your Body: Your body should form a straight line from the top of your head down to your heels. Make sure your hips are not sagging down or piked up high. Keep your neck and spine neutral, which means you should be looking at the floor.
- Engage Your Core: Tighten your abdominal muscles as if you were about to be punched in the stomach, but keep breathing normally. Engage your glutes (buttock muscles) as well to help maintain your body’s alignment.
- Arm Position: Keep your palms flat and fingers spread wide to help distribute your weight evenly. Your shoulders should be directly above your wrists.
- Hold the Position: As a beginner, try to maintain this position for 10-30 seconds at a time. As you get stronger, you can gradually increase the duration.
Here are some additional tips for beginners:
- If holding a full plank is too challenging, modify the exercise by lowering your knees to the floor. This is often referred to as a half plank or modified plank. Make sure you maintain a straight line from your head to your knees.
- Don’t hold your breath while in the plank position. It’s essential to keep breathing naturally throughout the exercise.
- Avoid looking up or down while in the plank position to avoid straining your neck. Aim to keep your gaze about a foot in front of your hands.
- To avoid wrist discomfort, you can perform the plank on your forearms. Your elbows should be directly beneath your shoulders, and your forearms should be parallel to each other.
Practicing the plank regularly will improve your core strength and stability. If you’re unsure about your form or find the exercise uncomfortable, it might be worth seeking advice from a fitness professional. They can provide guidance to ensure that your form is correct and that you’re performing the exercise safely and effectively.
There are so many exercises that can help improve the quality of your life. You are going to feel so much better if you just get started. If you want to enjoy the benefits of exercise in a group setting to build relationships as well as health at the same time, check out our group fitness classes at Social Sphere or I can bring one to your club or business. Check out our Facebook page for more info.
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