When teaching good form, many experts exaggerate.
- They teach you to drive out your chest and pull back your shoulder blades as far as possible on the bench press.
- They teach you to spread the floor apart, placing most of your weight on the outsides of your feet on the squat.
- They teach you to hyperextend your lower back to prevent rounding on the dead-lift.
Performing these steps will keep you tight. A stable position is very important for safely lifting heavy weights. Nonetheless, performing these word for word instead of understanding the true objective can harm your joints and weaken your muscles.
- Driving your chest out and pulling back your shoulder blades too much on the bench press prevents the scapula from freely moving and contributing to protraction. Those that overdo this often feel as if they are fighting against themselves during the set. This also can cause impingement in the shoulder.
- Spreading the floor too greatly on the squat can make the movement feel slow and awkward while harming your joints due to placing your knees outside the ankles.
- Hyperextending the lower back places tremendous stress on the spine. The neutral position for the spine, with it neither extended nor flexed, works most safely. You merely have to prevent it from rounding on the dead-lift.
Exaggeration still serves as a useful teaching tool. The dramatic nature of the best tips on major exercises counteracts very poor habits that trainees develop and thus serves an important purpose. Keep in mind though that quite a few authorities simply copy the status quo and fail to think critically on most issues. They regurgitate advice they hear from other self-proclaimed gurus.
(This attitude plagues the athletic and fitness communities in a much more general way beyond good form. An idea catches on and everyone goes along for the ride. Learn to trust yourself. Avoid leaping off the cliff with the rest of the suckers. Think differently.)
Good form relies on balance. You need to feel tight in the supporting muscles yet loose enough in the active ones. You need to revise well-meaning but severe suggestions.
- Drive your chest up enough to feel stable yet allow the shoulder blades to move.
- Spread the floor enough to align your knees with your ankles and no more.
- Keep the back extended enough as to avoid rounding.
Next time you consider advice on form, remember that good form may be taught through overstatement but must create a medium position in the end. It may help teach you the right tips at first but taken too far will harm you as greatly as failing to perform them at all. Avoid extremes, use some common sense, and trust how you feel.
Remember that good form is balanced.