If you've been lifting for some time, you've probably heard people discussing form at nausea. You'll have your form warriors who overly criticize everyone. No matter how pristine someone performs a movement, they call out the tiniest thing and scream that your form stinks. These folks like to lurk in the comment section of Instagram posts.
On the other side, there's the crowd who preaches form is overrated. These lifters throw all reasoning out the window and will do everything in their power to complete a repetition. They may have to contort their body in ridiculous ways, but as long as they get the rep, that's all that matters.
Meeting somewhere between these two extremist crowds is your best bet.
Yes, good form is essential when lifting weights. But for the form warriors, we must also realize that perfect form is impossible. Lifting is a skill, and reaching absolute mastery is something even the greats can improve at. Some better words to describe good form would be safe, efficient, and excellent. But perfect simply isn't attainable.
That said, we should strive to get as close to perfect as possible with the exercises we perform.
Think of it like this...
If you can lift a lighter weight with near-perfect form but at a heavier weight, the rep looks completely different... it just means you are not strong enough to handle the heavier weight yet. Plus, you aren't actually attacking the muscles you want to grow.
A common exercise where you see this at play is the bench press. Lifters perform this movement for a bigger chest, but if you look at the form, they are not targeting their chest. Their ego gets in the way. If you have to lift your hips up to the ceiling in a bench press motion, are you really focusing on your chest development?
No, you are just throwing the weight up to pat your ego... which to be honest, nobody cares how much weight you can do. And you are also asking for a major injury. If it has yet to happen, it's only a matter of time.
Lift as heavy as possible, but be smart about it. Once your form breaks down, rack the weight. If you did 6 clean reps on the bench press with 135 pounds this week, try to get 7 reps the following week. Once you know you have to lift your hips up to get another rep, rack the weight. From there, slowly attempt to beat the number of times you can perform 135 pounds.
Remember, we want to target the muscles we are trying to work on. Do not perform ego lifts.
To wrap this article up...
Working on your form in specific movements is of utmost importance when you start your lifting journey. Throughout your lifting career, the goal should be to reach mastery and get as close to perfect as possible.
On top of this, the key is slowly adding weight to the movements. There is no rush. Lifting is a long man's game. Do the movement for your targeted reps. Once you notice you have to change the form on a rep to complete it by using excessive body English, it's time to call the dogs off on the set.
This will ensure you stay injury-free and constantly progress. You'll get stronger, see the changes in your body you're after, and enjoy all the powerful benefits of resistance training.
Check out any of our MAPS PROGRAMS here. We ideally lay everything out for you to leave all the guesswork out of your training. Inside our programs, we have videos for every exercise to show you the ideal execution of the movements.