There are really only three basics you need to know when it comes to weightlifting form, but don’t mistake simplicity for easy. If you don’t get your form right, you can expect sub-par results at least and injury at the worst. Form is under-rated and under-practiced and I’m here to empower you with the knowledge of the basics! Master these three basics and you can walk into any weight room with purpose and without fear of injury.
1. Depress and Retract the Shoulder Blades
For those of you who are not anatomically minded I may have just lost you.
In Llyman’s terms? Pull your shoulder blades back and down.
What this does is help to activate and engage the lower traps and rhomboids (among other muscles) giving you greater shoulder stability and allowing the muscles that SHOULD be doing the work, to actually do the work, rather than letting other muscles compensate.
Throughout all movements that you do, your shoulder blades should stay back and down. This means that if you are doing a lat pull down or a pull up, it will feel like you are not letting your arms go out all the way. You ARE using a full range of motion, but the difference is, you are holding your scapulae in place instead of letting them move about. This means when you are doing a Romanian Deadlift, it will be much harder for your upper back to round, because your shoulders are pulled back – this also allows your chest to remain high, which brings me to my next point…
Keep the chest high. To think of it more simply: stick out your chest. ) This may feel incredibly awkward, especially for you ladies, but what you are doing is actively keeping your spine in a neutral position. Sounds kind of like an oxymoron doesn’t it? When you stick out your chest coupled with depressing and retracting the shoulder blades, what this does it to “brace” your body and hold it in that neutral position, so that whatever stress you are about to put on the body will be put in the right place instead of being transferred to your spine. Speaking of bracing…
2. "Brace" Like someone is about to punch you in the stomach.
Instinctively we gasp and “brace for impact”.
Feel that grab around your middle? That’s your TVA (transverse abdominus) showing up to the party. This keeps your spine neutral and stable.
The hip joint is not the bone you can feel around the waistband of your pants. It is lower. If you move your fingers down your pelvis to the spot where your leg meets your body and forms a crease and you push, you will notice that if you push hard enough, the joint will move and your rear end will go backwards
Not your low back. When the hips are used properly as a hinge:
- There is less tension in the neck
- There is less excess tension in the back
- The legs are allowed to hang freely from the body
- The entire body moves more freely
- The core muscles are engaged properly
- The spine is protected
This video explains everything.
BONUS: watch the video to find out!
- Activating the Lower Traps
- These exercises can help your posture and spare back pain down the line (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- The Joy of a Deadlift Well Done (fluteangel.wordpress.com)
- How to Squat – From Diesel Strength (fluteangel.wordpress.com)
- Best Exercises for Stretching the Scapular Muscles (brighthub.com)
- What are some health benifits of weightlifting (wiki.answers.com)
- Get Over Your Fear of the Weight Room (fitsugar.com)