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Proper Form and Technique While Exercising
By: Peter Kudlacz

Proper Form and Technique While Exercising

Popular Fitness -

Pay attention to using proper form and technique when working out with weights. Some of the points I want to discuss in this article may seem very basic or trivial, but a momentary reflection on the basic points I will outline will help improve your overall workouts. I feel this article will be helpful for novices and experienced fitness enthusiasts alike!

There are two reasons why you should always pay attention to form and technique when exercising. The most important and most obvious is that if you're not performing the exercise correctly, you risk the chance of hurting yourself either immediately or in the long term. The other reason is that you are not realizing the full benefits from your workouts. You are merely going through the motions.

For people just beginning training with weights or if you're trying out a new exercise, it is important that you understand how the exercise is performed, the mechanics of an exercise. As well as what muscles or muscle groups you are working. For more experienced people, sometimes it's good to re-evaluate how you are performing a particular exercise. How you can improve upon what you are doing. Sometimes over time form and technique tend to slip into bad habits.

So what constitutes proper form and technique?

When beginning a new exercise for the first time, start with a very light weight. Go through the motions of the exercise slowly. This way you'll gain an understanding on how it is to be performed as well as committing the movement to memory. You'll also learn whether or not you are comfortable with the exercise or whether it is even worthwhile doing. Once you understand the basic movement, you may continue with your desired weight.

Concentration. Concentrate on what you are doing. Your mind should be focused on the task at hand. This way you will avoid bad habits.

When performing an exercise stress equally the positive and the negative of the movements. For example, if you are doing a dumbbell chest press the positive is the movement up and the negative the movement down. When exercising, many people forget about the negative. They exert all their effort on the pushing the dumbbells up, but they bring down or let the dumbbells drop too quickly. Thus negating any benefits derived from the negative portion of the exercise.

Don't forget to breathe. By holding your breath during even a single repetition of an exercise, you are depriving your body of valuable oxygen and experiencing muscle fatigue much sooner.

Muscle Isolation. Try to isolate the muscles when you are working out. Most exercises rely on secondary muscle groups. For example on pull downs for the back, the arms can tire before your lats do because they are much smaller muscles than your back. By concentrating on using the lats to pull the weight down you are effectively reducing the work your arms are doing and placing the workout on the lats.

Each exercise that you may be doing may also have specific areas where bad form may result. There are many examples. If you are doing any type of chest press while lying flat on a bench make sure your lower back is flat on the bench. Many people forget about this and end up curving their lower back without even realizing this and risking the chance of a back injury. This is also true if you are sitting up for certain exercises or sitting on a bench with a vertical cushion. There is a tendency to slouch. Make sure you sit up straight and suck in your abs to keep your back straight. Other exercises require that you keep your knees slightly bent.

As a matter of fact, in every day life you should also be paying attention to how you lift things, sit, etc... This way you will avoid any nagging pains or aches. These body pains exist to tell you something is being done wrong to your body. You will also improve your posture.

Over time you may want to modify a certain exercise. Add some variations to more effectively or differently work your muscles.

These are just some of the most important points to pay attention to when weight training. By paying attention to these points you will avoid any possible injuries and you will maximize the potential from every single workout. And this is the whole purpose of weight training. To strengthen your muscles, prevent injuries and know that a little attention to your health now will go a long way to your future well-being.

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The Power of Stretching    - Dave Snape


Your muscles ache from a good stretch. This is quite
normal and is part of the process. Stretching has
seemingly been with us and particularly with athletes
since the beginning of time.

A very key point to good stretching is to hold the
stretch for at least seventeen seconds. This is a
pearl of wisdom gleaned from a ballet teacher a few
years back. She said that any stretch under 17
seconds was just not effective.

The 17 second rule is exceeded in the high intensity
Bikram's yoga where stretches are held for about 30
seconds. Don't forget the high level of heat that is
used in Bikram's to extract that last little bit of
stretch out of your muscles. An interesting twist that
is not necessary to gain benefits from stretching. But,
it can't hurt, right?

So what kind of benefits can you expect from
stretching? That's an easy one. Have you ever seen the
movie, Blood Sport? Did you know that Frank Dux could
truly stretch his body to the extreme. The actor that
played him was quite elastic as well.

Great elasticity is also something you might see in
well trained Spetsnaz (Russian) agents. They often work
out with Russian kettlebells too. They are for superior
strength gains and the ability to withstand ballistic

Why are stretching and flexibility considered important
to these people? Stretching gives one the ability to
have explosive power available at one's fingertips
without the need to warm up. Of course most of us are
not martial artists or agents. But, you'll be happy to
know there are plenty of other benefits.

Let me give you an example. After learning to sit in
the full lotus position for long periods of time, my
ankles became very flexible. One day I was walking
along and my left foot fell into a pothole. This mishap
pushed my ankle sideways to about 90 degrees from it's
normal position.

Amazingly, this didn't even hurt, not one bit. If my
ankle hadn't been so flexible, I may have suffered a
sprained ankle. At the very least, it would have hurt
for days.

Key point: stretching helps you to avoid injuries.
Not only that but if you do have a muscle, tendon or
ligament injury it should heal faster, theoretically

Stretching actually grows the ligaments, tendons and
muscles being stretched. They really grow longer over

Check with your physician before undertaking any type
of exercise, including stretching.

Here is some good instructional material on stretching:

Dave Snape

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