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By Drew McKenzie.
Updated On: Dec 04, 2006

Form in the Gym

By: Drew McKenzie, MS, CSCS


Believe it or not, there is a right and a wrong way to lift weights. Having proper form when lifting could mean the difference between getting the most benefit from the exercise or getting injured. Check your ego at the door ladies and gentlemen! Don’t worry about pushing/pulling up a lot of weight. Drop a few pounds off and focus on proper form. Your muscles, tendons, and ligaments will thank you later. If you are not sure on the proper form, then please ask.


Hips swaying forward and back on biceps curls (this can cause lower back problems).

Rocking way back on the lat pull-down machine (this causes the lats to work less, momentum to work more).

Driving with the feet and arching the back off the bench/machine during a bench press/seated chest press (this limits the range of motion for the joints being worked; only competitive power-lifters use this technique).

Lifting too fast/too slow (concentric phase: lifting phase should be faster- 1 to 2 seconds while the eccentric phase: lowering phase should be slower- 2 to 4 seconds).

Pulling the lat pull-down BEHIND the neck (this puts the shoulder in a compromising position and could lead to injury).

Performing "half reps" on machines and on free weights (work the muscles through their fullest range of motion each repetition)

***Note: Use a spotter if you go heavy. Tell them to watch your form on the exercise. When you break form, quit the set. Next set lower the weight and try again.

(all of which could be avoided by decreasing the amount of weight lifted):

IAFF Local 574
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