What we pay attention to in workout, either at the gym, at home, or outdoors, is numbers: we count reps, sets, measure time, beat our personal bests. As a matter of fact, however, quantity is not the most important thing in workout. At least as much, if not more, important is the quality of exercise. Why should we pay attention to proper form more than to the number of reps? And how to find out if our technique is proper or not?
There are at least 4 very good reasons to change the focus from quantity to quality:
1. Avoid injuries
In many exercises, starting from a basic squat, ending at a barbell jerk, our spine and joints (knees, elbows, wrists etc.) are facing a massive effort – even if we do them right. But if we do them wrong, the loads are not placed where they are supposed to be placed, and this may seriously overstrain our body.
An inappropriately performed exercise may bring more harm than benefit. Wrong technique will sooner or later take its toll. And an injury does not only mean pain and discomfort, but also a longer break in our regular workout cycle – all in all, a huge loss and disadvantage. That’s why we should make sure our technique is proper, especially if we use extra loads in our workouts.
2. Minimize effort
By adopting proper technique to our workout, we minimize the effort put on our joints and spine, and make our muscles work optimally for the best possible results. The goal of working out is to condition our body in a way that will bring us expected effects. And I don’t mean visual effects only, like losing fat or gaining muscle. It may be strength, speed, flexibility, precision, performing gymnastic maneuvers, increased jumping ability and so on.
A proper technique of exercise will let us reach our goal in shorter time with less effort put into the whole process. That could summed up by a simple equation:
PROPER TECHNIQUE = MAXIMUM EFFICIENCY
3. Avoid bad habits
Our body learns how to perform given movements each time we repeat them. Repeated many times, a movement becomes a part of our motoric memory – in other words, we stop thinking of what we do with our body. It’s like our body itself knew what to do. We create a kind of habit.
The key is to create good habits, and avoid creating wrong habits. Once we learn a wrong form, it’s very difficult to relearn it properly – as our brain have already stored the wrong sequence of moves in our motoric memory. That’s why it is crucial to focus more on quality than on quantity, especially when we introduce a new exercise to our workout cycle.
4. Make workout more effective
If you’ve been working out for a while now, and you still don’t see expected results, technique is the first thing you should look up to. Inappropriately performed exercises bring little or no effect. It’s more beneficial to perform less reps with smaller load in a proper form, than to perform more reps with greater load with a serious technical mistake.
How to control my technique?
One way is to ask a trainer or a gym instructor to watch you perform an exercise and tell you what you’re doing wrong and what could be done better. Educated and experienced professional’s help is the most secure way to proper form and better results.
But what if we work out at home where we can’t count on professional coach’s eye? There are two possibilities in such a situation. First, we can always ask somebody else to watch us exercise and tell us what we do in the way we are not supposed to do it.
Second, if there’s no one near acquainted enough with the proper technique of exercise, we can always record ourselves using a smartphone or a camera, and watch our workout after a finished series or series. This way, we will be able to catch mistakes we are not aware of.
If we’re not sure what’s the proper form of an exercise, we can find numerous instruction videos and tutorials on line, often broadcasted by experienced professionals. Next, we just compare our homemade workout video with a demonstration of properly performed exercise and try to eliminate our mistakes.
Remember that it is often more about HOW than HOW MANY or HOW FAST when it comes to efficiency in workout.