He doesn’t quite look like an eel but he sure is squirming. He doesn’t look much like a dog either but he sure is panting. And he hardly looks like a monkey but he sure is swinging.
What he does appear to be - at first glance – with straps fastened around his wrists, the bandana wrapped around his skull, is a hard-core, knowledgeable weight trainer.
And that, you should know, he definitely is not.
It’s the guy you see at the gym every day, sweating through arduous sessions of what he believes to be bodybuilding brilliance. But there’s only one thing more agonizing than the pain in his joints
. It’s the pain of the wise observer who actually has to witness this.
The genius settles in to bench press the weight equivalent of his sports car. But from the opening repetition, the only part of him he’ll be expanding is his ego, as a crowd slowly gathers around. After just one rep, he starts flopping around on the bench like the fish you caught over the weekend. It’s a good thing Joe Weider isn’t here because his form alone would make the Master Blaster cry like an infant.
After a brilliant, fulfilling set of three, it’s off to do some biceps curls. He slaps so many plates on the bar, you’d think you were in Roseanne’s kitchen. You watch as he whisks the weight into the air. You watch as his back swings like a pendulum throughout the exercise. What you don’t know is that he’ll be visiting both the chiropractor and the spinal surgeon in a matter of weeks.
The point is simple.
Exercising at the local gym without proper form is a lot like playing the slot machines. It’s a waste of money and a waste of time.
A common exercise that eludes proper form among gym patrons is the Barbell Squats, a leg-blasting motion that can prove potentially damaging to both your spine and back without the use of proper form. Too often, weight trainers push the weight upward with their backs, while dropping either too far or not far enough to the floor.
First off, separate your mind from the surroundings. Weight training is not a competition; it is merely the process in which you achieve the fitness goals you’ve set for yourself. Dissociate yourself from the busy bodies. Always put proper form ahead of heavy weights. If your form is sacrificed during any exercise, or you’re not getting the reps you want, you’re simply using too much weight.
Before attempting squats, secure your feet inside the rack at a shoulder width, comfortably resting your hands on the bar with the bar on your traps. Attaining a natural curve in your back, slowly bend your knees, allowing the weight to push your buttocks toward the floor. Dip slightly below the point of where your knees form a 90-degree angle, as if you were sinking into a sofa cushion, before immediately reversing the movement. Drive through an upward motion, your eyes faced toward the ceiling, as you squeeze your glutes through the range of motion. Try not to lock your knees upon standing straight up. Also, be sure that you are breathing smoothly throughout the set.
And during a vigorous exercise like squats, especially when heavy weights are involved, always – always – find a spotter to assure your safety.