The body adapts with every single rep, and in order to reap maximum benefits from your training and avoid injury you must constantly search for, and produce perfect repetitions. This is a point emphasized by almost anyone who works with strength training.
I remember Paul Chek, HHP, telling a story about a day when he went to Charles Poliquin's gym. Paul apparently had a minor flaw in his squat technique. Charles did not let him workout and much less allowed him to leave before the flaw was corrected!
I'll assume here that you know the correct technique for the lifts you are performing. Yet here is a short list of typical errors that can occur in often practiced lifts.
- Overextending the neck in squats and deadlifts.
- Letting the low back round in squats and deadlifts.
- Letting elbows move out and up in bench presses.
- Forceful extension of the elbow joint (with no muscular control) in exercises like biceps curls and triceps extensions.
- Letting the wrist drop back (extension) in exercises like snatches and military presses.
- Letting the knees move in front of or inside of the toes in standing exercises.
Faults like the above mentioned can sometimes help you move more weight in the short run and thus produces quick results. But the flip side of this coin is an overload of joints, ligaments and tendons, which in time will wear these structures down and cause injury. Subsequently you are forced to cease or change your preferred training routine.
Since developing a truly great physique takes many years, you better make certain that your body maintains that tolerance for the heavy loads! If you have a lifting buddy, he or she can check your technique so it’s on the mark. On the other hand, you might be training alone with no help from anyone.
Correcting Lifting Technique When Training Alone
Read on to learn how to correct your lifting technique when you are training alone:
- Make sure you know the correct technique of the lifts you are performing. Talk to your coach, trainer or search the internet.
- Find out if you learn best by seeing, feeling or hearing new information. That will tell you which of the below avenues will be most natural and efficient to you.
- Hearing: Use so called “power talking”. This means spending 30-60 sec before each set to talk yourself through the lifts. This technique is described in a highly recommend book “Dinosaur Training” (available at www.brookskubriks.com).
- Seeing: Face mirrors on the warm up sets and or the lighter sets. Use the visual feedback to correct yourself. Since lifting is kinaesthetic by nature the general recommendation is to face away from mirrors during heavy sets, in order to feel the body better. If you do not have access to mirrors the time and effort to video film you will be worth it. Make sure to get a recording from different angles.
- Feeling (1): Lifting with your eyes closed. When the visual input is taken away the brain has more capacity to process the kinaesthetic input. It will be much easier for you to feel you body positions.
- Feeling (2): Play with the extremes. For example, try squatting with your neck extended as far as possible (looking to the ceiling), flexed as far as possible (looking into the ground) or in a neutral position (looking straight ahead). This is called variable training and is proven to improve motor skills. You can read more about variable training in “Motor learning and Performance.”
- Post-set evaluation: Immediately after the set when the feeling of the lifts is still in your body, ask yourself: “What could I have done better?” Compare what you did to your knowledge about the perfect lift and make sure to correct it on your next set.
If your program calls for circuits with little or no rest, you can do power talking and post set evaluation before the first and after the last sets. There won't be time between each set.
Most trainees probably will benefit from being around lifting buddies, but one of the greatest American athletes of all times, John Davis, an Olympic weightlifting champion around the times of World War 2, did most of his training in the basement of the local church.
If for whatever reason you are training alone too, the above principles will certainly help you improve your lifting technique and ability to tolerate heavy loads.
To learn more about Paul Chek go to www.chekinstitute.com.
To learn more about Charles Poliquin go www.charlespoliquin.com.