For anyone who has done any type of regular exercise for any length of time, you have almost certainly been told how important form is. Poor form either deprives you of the intended benefit or can lead to injuries. Proper form maximizes the exercises benefits and avoids injury.
Two exercises I have had the most trouble with are squats and deadlifts. For men (and I assume women but correct me if I’m wrong Glibbroads), these are foundational exercises. I could never get out of the starting gate, in part, because I royally screwed these up.
I started “squatting” in my twenties. I’m using quotes around squatting because my form was so bad I repeatedly injured myself. I read books that had diagrams and descriptions on how to squat. Some had pictures of bodybuilders squatting. And I still got it wrong.
That was nearly thirty years ago so I don’t clearly remember how I was led astray but I seem to recall being told to keep my legs about shoulder width apart, keep my back straight, and have my knees travel straight out over my toes. I scrupulously followed these instructions resulting in constantly pitching forward when I would squat. No question I was using my back during the lift. One suggestion was to put a 2X4 under my heels. That was stupid advice that I took it didn’t help.
Squatting like that gave me back trouble and, I think, knee trouble too. I didn’t do any deadlifting in my 20s. I don’t think it was in vogue at the time and nothing I read explained its importance. So, with an aching back and right knee that liked to remind me it was there, I skipped deadlifting altogether.
When I returned to lifting in my 50s, the idea of squatting was very unappealing. In fact, it was a bit scary. However, squatting and deadlifting are part of the AthleanX program so I either had to ditch the program or do both. I trust the creator of the program so I readily accepted both exercises could be done without injuring myself.
As much as I’ve gotten from the videos and explanations Jeff Cavaliere provides for the exercises, I still couldn’t get my squat right. It was better but still a bit off. So, I searched YouTube and found a modern-day Viking Alan Thrall. This is his video that finally made clear to me how to property squat.
After watching it a couple of times I wanted to reach back through time to choke out every f***ing author of the books I read in my twenties. Did they really not know to tell me the bar should be moving vertically the entire time? That I should be pushing with my midfoot? That my knees should be travelling out at roughly a 45-degree angle? I might have been spared a bunch of injuries and a thirty-year gap in squatting.
I’m truly grateful to Thrall. I’m finally able to squat with good form. I’m feeling it all in my legs, not my back. The day after leg day, I’m free of back pain and feeling it in my legs and ass.
Thrall has his own YouTube channel. I find some of his videos more helpful than others but overall, I recommend it. He has a heavy emphasis on good form and proper technique. Given my history that’s very important to me. He has couple more helpful videos on squatting. You can find them here and here.
Getting my squat right gave me the confidence to try deadlifts. This is the AthleanX video on how to properly deadlift. Between that one and his Deadlift Checklist, I got enough to do these right. I have to stay super focused when I deadlift to maintain proper form. I have gotten distracted and every time that’s happened, I felt in my back for days afterward.
I hope these helped you Glibfitters. Tell us what exercises you screwed up in the past and how you found a way to do them right.