Fix your damn form….but not just for the popular reason of injury prevention.
How many of you have heard or seen (especially on the online fitness community recently) the words, “‘form will not be perfect when attempting a 1 rep max”? Personally I’m seeing it regularly and at times this frustrates me. The point behind this sentence is a fair one when taken as it is; what bugs me is people’s complete misunderstanding of this statement, and incorrect application of it to beginner and intermediate lifters who post their videos on social media.
Here’s a real world example of what I’m talking about, to illustrate this point,
Recently I saw a video of a guy, we’ll call Ron lifting a 1 rep max deadlift attempt. Ron is not a beginner lifter, but has limited experience in lifting in terms of time ‘spent under the bar’. He has been lifting for approximately two and a half years. His technique looked very similar to the video below, but with more lumbar curve (Note this isn’t actually Ron, but I can’t post the actual video as I don’t believe it’s been made public on youtube and this video has almost identical form…or lack there of)
Just take a second to assess how bad that form was there.
The reaction to the video posted by Ron was of congratulations (which is always good to see in the strength community), and don’t worry “form will not be perfect when attempting 1 rep maxes”. In my opinion, this does nobody any good. Ron goes away thinking, “That’s ok, form isn’t really important” and this view will carry on to his next max attempt in the future I’m sure.
So why do I have a problem with this, apart from the obvious considerable increase in the chance of injury? I have a problem with this because 1 rep maxes will not be perfect (Notice perfect). Although this is true and it may not be perfect, it better be damn close. Why? Because good form not only protects you from injury but it’s also the most bio-mechanically advantageous way to lift the weight. If your aim is strength training this is very important. I personally believe, in the world of strength training, ‘Good form’ should be renamed ‘lifting in a biomenchaincally efficient way’. Big mouthful I know, fingers crossed it catches on because people need to re-access their thinking on this in my opinion.
But that guy just deadlifted 600lbs, who cares, stop being a keyboard warrior and go lif…..blah blah blah.
Yes the guy just deadlifted 600lbs which is fantastic. However if he were to…not yank on the bar, tighten his lats and core, engage his hamstrings more, and maintain a strong neutral spine (scrap the ‘looking up’ cue he’s doing would also help a lot) to name a few. I’d bet he’d have another 20-30lbs or so on that bar. Why is that not the important point? Then it would be, hey that guy just deadlifted 630lbs (and look he hasn’t slipped a disc in the next 6 months).
Getting ‘caught up on form’, does not hold you back. Good form in the short, medium and long term propels you forward (note I’m talking about strength training here, not bodybuilding). There seems to be a middle ground in the mindset of the strength community whereby absolute beginners must focus on ‘form form form’, and experienced lifters and all good coaches talk about the importance of ‘form form form’. Suddenly when a lifter has a little experience, putting form on your list of priorities is something that “holds you back”. How do you think the experienced lifters are a) still around to call themselves ‘experienced’ and b) have progressed to the point that they’re throwing big weights around like it’s nothing…They have good technique and every rep they do looks the same if not very similar. BINGO…isn’t that pretty obvious…?
So next time you see/hear, “form is never perfect on 1 rep maxes”, question how far a way from ‘perfect’ it actually was. Be honest with yourself because it’s not just about avoiding injury, it’s about setting high standards for yourself. Gaining a 30lbs PR because of correcting form issues will be one of the easiest 30lbs you’ll ever put on your total. So why not bust your gut whilst correcting form issues and you might just be lucky enough to hit a 60lbs PR instead? It all comes back to training effectively and efficiently (Training economy).
Nobodies perfect, but you can bet someone out there is working their socks off to get bloody close.
Strong Body. Strong Mind