Good form in exercise

Good form for the win!

Last week I gave you tips for maximizing the effectiveness of your workouts, and one of them was to make sure you have good form. So why is good form in exercise important? 

This morning I did my Pilates workout with a resistance band, and noticed that the instructor was continually reminding the class of the proper technique. Breathe in when you do this, make sure your abdominals are pulled in, and make sure your back is straight. Why is it important to have good form?

Avoid injury

First, and probably, most important, it’s important to maintain good form in exercise so you don’t injure yourself. I’ve talked about avoiding back pain by tightening my core – there it is. Make sure your back is straight and not twisted? Again, good form. When you’re exercising with good form, you avoid strains, sprains, tears, twinges, and all sorts of nasty things. When you’re doing squats, making sure that you can see your shoelaces when you look down ensures that you’re protecting your knees. And that’s something we all need to keep in mind for our healthy aging.

Focus on targeted muscle groups

When you have good form when you exercise, you know that you’re targeting what you’re supposed to be targeting. You’re using the muscle groups that you’re supposed to be using. And you’ll get the maximum benefit from the exercise. Like this morning, during my Pilates workout, the instructor emphasized during a few of the exercises that the shoulders should be back and down to work them properly. I’ve had experience with shoulder injuries, and the last thing I want is to re-injure the joint. So I made extra sure that I followed the instructor’s direction.

Optimize time

When we really focus on having good form in exercise, we’re truly getting maximum benefit from minimum time. I don’t have time to waste and neither do you! So let’s get strong with good form.

3 Tips for getting the most out of your workout

No one likes to waste time. I certainly don’t. So how can I make sure that I get the most out of my workout? You know that I’m not a fan of exercise at the best of times. So if I’m going to do it, get changed, sweat and get all out of breath, I want to make sure that my time is not wasted. If I’m motivated enough to put some time in and exercise for my healthy aging, I’m going to make sure it’s time well spent. Here are some tips to make sure you’ll be getting the results you want.

First: focus

Make sure you’re being intentional with your movements. It’s really easy to just go through the motions, especially if you’re enjoying the music. So pay attention to what you’re supposed to be doing. If it’s jumping jacks, make sure that you’re landing with bent knees in a squat. That way, you’re working your legs to the max! If you’re doing biceps curls, make sure you’re using the right muscles. If you’re running, tighten your core and hit with your heel, ball, and toe last of all. Be intentional with your movements.

Pay attention to form

The last tip and this one are linked. Make sure your form is on point. If you’re going through the motions with sloppy form, then your workout is for nothing. When you flex your biceps on a curl, you know that the right muscle is being worked. If you’re doing a Pilates workout, make sure that you’re inhaling when you’re supposed to and that your core is tight throughout the workout.

Keep distractions to a minimum

When you get a call, you know how long it takes you to get back to a productive mode? About five minutes. When I’m working out, I don’t have five minutes to waste on getting back into the groove. That’s part of what I use a warmup for. If your phone rings and you’re exercising, ignore it. They’ll leave a voicemail message. Put the dogs in another room. I put my dogs in their crates. (They’re all crate trained and get treats!) They can still watch me, but they’re not in kicking range. Distractions are time-wasters. When you’re not distracted, you’re not able to focus as well as if your full attention is on what you’re doing.

So, even when you’re doing a shorter workout – okay, maybe especially if you’re doing a shorter workout! – you’ll get the maximum benefit from minimal time. And that’s my goal when I’m exercising.

Create a fitness goal to keep you moving

It’s really easy to go through your days on autopilot. Go from one meaningless task to another, not really accomplishing much. Then all of a sudden, it’s bedtime. Time to brush your teeth and have some downtime until you do all the nothingness again tomorrow. Do you ever feel like you’re sleepwalking through your day? I emptied the dishwasher in the morning while I watched the news. And it was basically the same as yesterday’s news. I went to the grocery store yesterday. And it was basically the same items that I bought last week. Are you stuck in a rut too? I want to feel invigorated. And I don’t want to feel like I’m stuck on a treadmill. It may be time to create a fitness goal to keep you moving.

Your new fitness goal doesn’t have to be big

A new goal could inspire you to new heights, new levels of strength, faster speeds. That new goal in one aspect of your life could spark your motivation in others. And your new goal doesn’t have to be a big one. For me, I had a goal of running one tenth of a mile faster than my previous fastest speed for a minute during my treadmill session. And to do that for 4 runs. At first I couldn’t maintain that extra tenth for the whole minute. So I lowered the speed. But then after a walk interval I bumped my speed up that extra tenth again. And kept it there longer. 

That new goal will move you forward in your healthy aging. And when you’re doing something positive for your health, you’re automatically happier and more motivated to keep going.

Invigorated by success!

How did that extra tenth make me feel? Invigorated. By running just that little bit faster, I felt like I was invincible. I felt stronger the rest of the day, knowing that I met a really tough (for me) benchmark. And being successful for one day kept me motivated for the rest of the challenge.

Your challenge:

So, I challenge you to create a fitness goal to keep you moving. Make sure that your goal is specific, with measurement and a timetable. Your goal also should be attainable but not too easy. Write your goal down so that you’ll have accountability, even if it’s just to yourself. I use the worksheet from the “Get It Done” Guide. I print multiple copies of the worksheet – there’s not much on that worksheet. It seems simple, but, boy, is it powerful! 

So, create a fitness goal. You’ll keep moving and be empowered to tackle even more.