Proper Weight Lifting Techniques

If you’ve had the opportunity to browse through the numerous videos, exercise descriptions, articles and photographs or diagrams on how to perform certain exercises, you’ll no doubt have come to the conclusion that everyone tells you different… sometimes very different.

I feel your frustration; it was the same for me when I first started out. You want a definitive answer. Unfortunately, there simply isn’t one. Welcome to pumping iron.

Form – the word we used to describe a safe, optimal lift – is something which is very, very unique and individual to each person, for any number of reasons.

The shortcut, of course, is to find a good coach who will be all too aware of the different bodied lifters, and guide you into a basic form which is right for your body type. If that isn’t an option for you, then you’ll have to go it alone. A good starting point is to always to try to find people who have similar physical dimensions to you, and see how they lift. Without doubt, a person’s physical dimension is the biggest determining factor in form differences, probably even more so than sheer personal preference.

Let’s compare this scenario. Usually, when being told how to squat, the optimal squatting position is undoubtedly one which allows the upper body to be as upright as possible. This is great for balance and really takes the strain off of the lower back, putting it on the quads, making squatting easy and very effective.

I’ll tell you now from my own experience – this position, for people with long legs and short bodies, is damn near impossible to achieve. Long legged short bodied squatters will be forced to lean well forwards to retain balance, all the while trying to keep a locked spine under the weight of the bar. It’s very, very difficult.

For bench pressing, a long armed bencher who doesn’t have short arms and/or an ultra thick body to take some travel inches off the bar will need to not only move the bar much further to achieve lockout, but, in the bottom range of motion, the elbows will usually have to travel much further down, quite often making starting up out of the bottom position difficult.

You can’t change your body’s dimensions. All you can do is work with it the best you can. Good technique is all about working with what you have, practice, and working in a way which feels comfortable and natural to you – and above all, is safe and productive. It’s something you can develop yourself over time to a high standard, or, for a shortcut, have a coach teach you.

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