I mentioned in an earlier article the benefits of having a positive attitude when training, and the importance of self-confidence, however this is not to be misconstrued with an arrogance or ego – a major hindrance for any aspiring bodybuilder. One of the greatest lessons I learned, in the early stages of my training, was that form, nine times out ten, was better for you than weight. That is to say, ensuring the exercise is performed with the correct technique, at the correct speed, is more beneficial than lifting a certain weight with poor form.
As a young teenage lad starting at the gym, this never crossed my mind once; it was all about swinging the biggest weight I could get my hands on, to impress anyone that might be watching. However, as I noticed very little muscular growth, and saw people who were much more developed than me and lifting similar weights, I wondered where I was going wrong. It was time to lose the ego, lower the weights, and concentrate on completing repetitions with the right technique. It should be noted that, when training the muscles to complete failure, good form is bound to be lost; therefore it is even more important to concentrate on completing the preceding repetitions with form that will maximise the work on the targeted muscle. When beginning any exercise, it is important and beneficial to consider what muscles are going to be worked, and how – in doing this, you are already concentrating on the contraction and relaxation of the muscle.
If we consider the standing barbell bicep curl, a common mistake in form is to beginning curling the weight from about 90 degrees, whereas a full repetition should be relaxed until either locking out, or just before (depending on the aim of the workout), which will work the whole muscle, instead of only part of the muscle. The same principal applies to the likes of the bench press, whereby a rather optimistic body-builder will stack on the weights so high that every repetition is given large assistance from a spotter, rendering the large number of weights useless – a useful tip to follow is that the exercise should work you harder than the spotter!
Bodybuilding is very much an art of mind and muscle, and by producing the right technique when exercising a muscle, not only will you reduce the risk of injury, but in the long run you will reap the benefits of quicker gains and fuller aesthetics.