Here’s the deal, great exercise form just isn’t that complicated to understand.
Ask the majority of trainers and they’ll tell you they are seeing the same issues over and over again. And they are using the same cues, to try to clean things up.
The reality is, great exercise form is just the ability to maintain good posture throughout the movement.
If you get into a good postural position, odds are your form is good. And odds are the right muscles are doing the right work.
Understanding this means you won’t need to read countless guides on how to perform every exercise.
I’ve taken an 80/20 approach to this and broke down the 5 most important postural cues. Adhering to these will go along way in helping you to perfect form in any exercise.
Keeping your foot in a good position is a matter of balancing support between the 3 primary points of contact on the bottom of your foot.
You don’t want your foot to cave in or roll out.
You don’t want to be shifted too far back or too far forward.
You want your weight to be equally distributed.
For a majority of exercises, your feet are the only point of contact with the ground, making it a very important of getting there positioning right. Any problems at the foot will also manifest up the chain. Meaning a bad foot position could effect the knee, hip, etc positions.
Knees Over Toes
Almost left this out. Because if you get tripod foot and hip position right, the knees will almost always track well.
However, I have had some cases where this posture cue helped to get better positioning at the hip and foot.
The knee should not track inside the foot. The knee should track over or slightly outside the foot.
Hips Square (Neutral Hips)
The hips should be not be offset from the side or front.
You do not want one hip higher than the other during any exercise.
You do not want one shifted deeper than the other.
Keeping them square or neutral is the ideal position for almost every exercise.
Flat Back (Neutral Back)
You want to keep a “flat” or neutral back position.
The low back should not be rounded(flexed) or arched (extended).
Although there may be some exceptions to this, it is generally true for the vast majority of exercises and situations.
Shoulders Square (Neutral Shoulders)
The shoulders should not be offset from the side or front.
You don’t want one shoulder higher than the other.
You don’t want one shoulder deeper or rotated further than the other.
Keeping them square is the ideal position.
The caveat here is that there will be some movement of the shoulders when you are doing pushing (push-ups) and pulling (pull-ups) exercises.
Having good posture when performing an exercise movement is the key to perfecting exercise form.
The 80/20 of mastering good posture during exercise boils down to 5 cues.
- Tripod Foot
- Knees Over Toes
- Hips Square
- Flat Back
- Shoulders Square
I’m not saying this is all you need to know. It will definitely help to read further on different exercises. However, getting just these right will go along way towards getting you on the right path.