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Why Form Matters (But Also Doesn't)



A good strength coach will teach you how to lift weights in a way that is the most efficient and allows you to lift the most possible weight. They will also teach you how to recruit muscles that stabilize the movement while keeping undue stress off of the skeletal structures due to lack of muscle tension.


It is important to learn how to do things in one particular, reproducible way. That way can vary depending on needs, and variations can be introduced later. However, at first, learn one way of doing it. Once the form is locked in, you can start adding weight, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. We always start with a light weight that is unlikely to hurt you even if you mess up, and you get better with practice using light loads.


Remember that a good strength coach will show you how to lift in a way that allows you to safely move the most possible weight. Any deviation from the established pattern risks injury. You may be able to squat 205 lbs safely with good technique, but if you stray too far from the engrained motor pattern, your body will not be prepared to move the weight.


Now, remember that I said a strength coach will teach you how to lift efficiently so you can move big weights safely. That doesn’t mean other ways of lifting are inherently dangerous. They just aren’t as efficient and will require you to use less weight to perform safely.


The human body is capable of all sorts of contortions and movement pattern. You can train your body to safely move in ranges of motion people perceive as unsafe. Yogis, acrobats, and gymnasts have been bending in all sorts of ways for centuries, because they train themselves to be able to do so. However, they are not loading the movements. They just have to move their own body weight, and most of them are very thin.

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