Hustling up the Stairmaster to beat the previous day’s step count of 1063, I manage to peer over the brim of the stats reader to observe my fellow “gym enthusiasts.” Straight ahead I see a pair of friends who have come to get summer ready together. Out of the corner of my left eye is that woman who frequents the gym with her large Dunkin Donuts iced tea off to the side, novel in hand and legs moving at a relatively respectable pace on the bike. To my right, there is that one trainer who faithfully provides clients with the routines I’m sure he’s self-tested and approved on several occasions. As I look out at all of these people confidently assuming their workouts, I can’t help but to notice their form!

One of the most vital lessons I have learned about working out is the importance of form. Here is a tip: Form is EVERYTHING. Why? Well, when performing particular workouts, if your form is incorrect, you can: (1) hurt yourself or (2) not achieve the results you are looking for. Here are a few exercises I do and have learned to perfect my form with:

1. The Squat

In all honesty, squatting has become one of my favorite exercises for obvious reasons. When I first began squatting, I would experience knee pains shortly after my workouts and assumed it was because my body needed to get used to it. I learned that this was incorrect information because the pain should be in the leg area and glutes, not the knees. Proper form for perfecting a squat is ensuring that knees are approximately shoulder length apart. When you bring your bottom down, envision sitting in a chair. Knees should never bend so far out that they past your toes and the deeper the squat, the more your feel the burn!

2. Standing Rows

I was actually corrected on my form for this as recent as April. Surprisingly, I did not experience embarrassment for being corrected, as I was able to recognize that its all part of my journey, learning and growth process. Much like the squat, you should stand with you feet approximately shoulder length apart. Hold your weights parallel to your body. (The amount of weight you use is incomparable to form. That being said, perfect form before going for the heaviest weights.) Arch your back and pull weights up to the side of your chest and squeeze. Bring the weights back down with control.

3. Planks

Planks seem to be so very simple, however, I have seen them done wrong and I have even had wrong moments myself. Lay your body flat on the floor and then push up on it as though you are preparing to do a push up. Elbows should be flat on the floor and toes should touch the floor as well. Rear is parallel to the rest of the body (and floor). The rear should never be poked in the air because the core will not be engaged. That is the point after all.

The most difficult thing about perfecting form is truly having the knowledge to recognize when your form is incorrect. The best advice I could offer is to work out with someone well versed in fitness as well as someone who is a visual walking representation of results. If you hire a trainer, do not shell out money for them to incorrectly train. Do your research. Observe. Ultimately, ensure that you get the most out of your money. Remember the tip you have received from Cadacia’s (trusty) Corner: FORM IS EVERYTHING.

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