Strength Work Form

Hey how’s it going everybody? Coach Kyle here and today I want to address a question that I had from a newer client of mine about the strength work I’m having him do.He specifically asked about how to know if he is performing the movements with proper technique.If you have ever worried about using proper form during your strength exercises then you need to pay attention, especially if you have used the fear of improper technique as an excuse not to do strength work.One thing that is very important to keep in mind is that the strength work I have my clients perform rarely includes actually lifting heavyweights, whatever heavy is to the individual. The big majority of exercises and movements My runners do are bodyweight exercises or very running specific jumping exercises. only if an individual specifically requests routines that include using a squat rack or heavy deadlifts for example actually get prescribed such movements.So now that we got that out of the way, let’s move on to the question of what is good form?It’s my opinion that good form is safe and works the appropriate muscle groups.That’s it.A big misconception I often see is that you should have perfect form or not do the exercise, or at least not do exercise with any sort of weight. This may be the case with big lifts but when it comes to lunges, step ups, body weight squats, and squat jumps don’t get analysis paralysis and think that You need perfect technique to have good technique.Sometimes I feel there is a misconception about perfect technique. You can’t have your knees move ahead of your toes or You’re going to ruin your knees for the rest of your life type of thing. David Dellanave, international all-round weightlifting association world record holder, suggests that there is only one rule when it comes to form, and that is to avoid pain. He says that, and to quote, as far as bad form goes, the only hard and fast rule is pain. Exercise should never hurt, and pain is a number one signal to change something. If it hurts while you’re doing it, stop. Change positions until you find something that works, or stop completely on that movement for the day. If things start to hurt later or the next day then you need to be a detective and figure out what it was that you were doing so you can change it next time.I experienced this myself personally years back while doing lunges.coincidentally a client of mine commented on this recently as well where he said that he never even thought about doing lunges as backward lunges, he thought they were always meant to be a step forward. I told him that in the past I had knee pain doing forward lunges. The return to standing going backwards caused my knee discomfort but I realized doing a reverse lunge and going back to standing moving forward and up caused no pain.Another example would be the cambered, EZ, or curved bar that you probably seen at the gym, this is an alternative to the straight bar. For most people using the curved easy bar is going to be last effective for building the biceps because of the angle of your hands, however for myself I have noticed that these negatively stress my wrists after a trail running fall or two, So I prefer the curved bar even if it’s not technically as effective as a straight bar with a narrow grip for the biceps. Yet that form, which many would consider better, is a horrible idea for me. Again we’re coming back to the idea that unless optimal form is fine if it is to avoid injury.But what about when it is not about avoiding injury but just doing the movements in general?Paul Ingraham from painscience.com said and I quote I suspect training people to lift properly probably doesn’t work because backs are actually tough as good boots, and what makes backs hurt or get injured isn’t influenced all that much if at all by lifting technique as long as you aren’t being really foolish about it. The conventional wisdom is based on an assumption of a fragility that just doesn’t exist in the back, so it’s not too surprising that the training doesn’t make much difference as there’s no vulnerability to avoid.In 1997 Dr Nortin hadler rotate paper for the journal spine with the subtitle of what you lift or how you lift matters far less than whether you lift or when and in 2002 physical therapist Leon straker Said that there is little evidence to support the effectiveness of training programs to change a workers lifting habit and any attempt at change may just increase risk as workers lose the protection of well practiced and conditioned movement patterns. ​More recently in 2008 after a review of the literature by Martimo titled effect of training and lifting equipment for preventing back pain in lifting and handling, it was suggested that and I quote there is no evidence to support use of advice or training in working techniques for preventing back pain or consequence disability. The findings challenge current widespread practice of advising workers on correct lifting technique. I think this was about the lift with your legs not with your back warning signs you see in all warehouses.If you pull up the pain science article about not worrying about lifting technique you’ll read a great deal more of science backed arguments for not worrying about technique so much, and that entire article is talking about actually lifting in the workplace to powerlifting, and I’m simply talking about body weight squats and lunges here people!Well let’s get back to the original discussion topic here which was about proper technique and how I make sure my clients are using it. I don’t want this to sound like a cop out, but I don’t worry about it that much! I try to make it very clear that the number one rule is not to do something that causes discomfort or pain, outside of that if you are doing one legged deadlifts without weight, chances are your totally fine and okay.This reminds me of another comment a runner told me recently where I had him going through what I thought was a very simple exercise routine, yet he said that it requires a lot of study because in the body ball crunch video The instructional video I linked to has a lady with a long list of instructions and he was worried about memorizing them and doing the bosu ball crunch so perfectly that he didn’t do it! He said and I quote otherwise I’m going to do them wrong. But my thinking is that, and like I said before, if there’s no discomfort you’re probably doing them just fine. He was experiencing analysis paralysis and not even doing the routine!One of the things I regularly here from people is at the simplicity and common sense of my videos and suggestions was part of what initially attracted them to me as a coach, so I don’t want it to sound like I’m saying well don’t worry about it, but that’s actually what I’m saying! Like I said above if you’re not experiencing any discomfort I really think you’re probably doing the crunches just fine. And realistically here we’re not talking about doing reps of 80% of your one rep Max squats, we’re talking about doing squats with just your body weight or some small weights added on. Let’s not get carried away with making something too complicated. 

You keep running, and I’ll keep coaching.

-Coach Kyle

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