In design parlance, “function over form” or vice versa, refer to the sometimes inversely proportional relationship between aesthetics and functionality. Engineers are often tasked with making a less-than-ideal design work, in order to make a product look good. Take a look at the swooping roofline of your average new family sedan versus the amount of headroom available in cars from the ’80s, before engineers made the same concessions to style.
In weight training the opposite is true.
The function or utility of any exercise stems from, at least in part, adherence to the correct form. In essence, function follows [correct] form. If the mechanics of an exercise are correct, and the joints move through the correct range of motion, several things happen that improve the functional value of an exercise. Firstly, less stress is placed on the ligaments and connective tissue around the joint, since the muscle isn’t contracting against these tissues, but rather moving through a linear range of motion. Secondly, the muscle completes a more complete contraction, meaning that more muscle fibres are recruited to accomplish the ‘work’ done during the exercise. Often, this means that an exercise might feel ‘harder’ to accomplish correctly, the first sign that heavier weight might be compromising your form. How important is proper form? This excerpt from The Mayo Clinic explains:
Use proper form. Learn to do each exercise correctly. When lifting weights, move through the full range of motion in your joints. The better your form, the better your results, and the less likely you are to hurt yourself. If you’re unable to maintain good form, decrease the weight or the number of repetitions. Remember that proper form matters even when you pick up and replace your weights on the weight racks. (http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/weight-training/art-20045842?pg=2)
While it might seem counterintuitive to lift less weight for more progress, lowering weight to enable better form is a way to achieve faster improvement in both strength and appearance while also serving to minimize injury. Proper form is particularly important when you’re using core muscles like your back, stomach or obliques, where even a minor injury can result in significant downtime from exercise or even regular work. Click on the videos below to learn proper form for a variety of exercises and activities that can significantly improve your overall strength while reducing back pain and injury;
If you’d like additional tips on proper form, come and see us. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book an appointment today!