How important is FORM really?

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    Jan 13, 2012 1:00 AM GMT
    For years I trained with perfect form, and made little if any real gains. I lifted heavy, ate a lot, and used the right form for all my exercises, and still topped out at about 150. For the last six months, I've watched the bigger guys at the gym, and here's the thing, they just lift heavy. They have incredibly shitty "form" compared to the way we're supposed to do our exercises.

    Example, there's this huge really built dude in my gym every morning who I watched do arm curls today, we use the same weight and he just flings it up, using a lot of his back at the same time. I've seen him on press just pushing the weight up, not concerned about form, same with legs and other exercises. (Another pet peeve of mine, he's also the type of dude that talks on his phone constantly throughout his time at the gym - at least he's quiet, but still it's weird).

    Anyway, I've watched other big dudes and the same story, shitty form, just get the weight up. So I know in the long run, this will probably fuck up your back, shoulders, or other joints/muscles. But honestly, who cares right? It's all about being big and buff - however you get there. A W is a W no matter what it takes to get there, at least that seems to be the way to go.

    So anyway, just wanting to throw this out there and see what others think. I still listen to my body and if I feel the wrong kind of pain, I change things up, either the angle, the force, or the weight. But I stopped caring about perfect form and I gained a good 10 pounds in the last 6 months, and hoping to add more to that in the next few months.
  • dannyboy1101

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    Jan 13, 2012 5:16 AM GMT
    Do you really want to gamble with your future health like that? It's kinda the same mentality as barebacking bottoms in gang bangs. Sure sounds fun and Probly is but doctor visits in the near or distant future may not be.

    In my experience good form engages muscles used for stability and gets u more workout for less time vs cheating using momentum or other muscles and thereby taking away the full exercise for the muscle you want to hit.

    Plus no matter how good u look people will notice and shun bad form. No points given from what I have seen
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    Jan 13, 2012 5:25 AM GMT
    For me, form is highly important. I have a curved spin, plus lower back problems and the occasional neck problem. Sure, I could fling the weight up using my back when doing biceps curls but I'll feel it not long after, and probably wake up the next day sore as hell (and possibly need to go to the physio...although he is cute...). If I wanted to work out my back, I'd do back exercises. If I'm working out my biceps, I want to use them as much as possible, even if that means I don't have arms as big as my head. I don't mind.
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    Jan 13, 2012 6:20 AM GMT
    Ok I'm going to bite. These big guys you see are likely going after the ego lifts.

    Form is very important. When you want to build muscle the objective is to do as much work as possible for the full range of motion (effectively stimulating both long and short muscle fibres). So the ideal rep is 1-2 seconds on the up working against gravity, and 3 sec on the down, where you're supposed to slow the weight's fall.

    Bad form can lead to injury but can also mean you're not training effectively. Throwing the weight means you're letting momentum do the work.

    You may argue that these guys are big, but they didn't get there training like they do now. Their aim is likely maintainence and getting their lifts as heavy as possible. Which is very different from the guy that wants to build muscle.
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    Jan 13, 2012 6:29 AM GMT
    very
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    Jan 13, 2012 1:58 PM GMT
    I like strict form, but most of my friends at the gym would give up lifting if they couldn't go heavy and cheat on form. I think I've gotten more results from slow, controlled form than from adding a lot of weight, but every guys' body is different. I go heavier about once every 5 weeks or so, just to mix it up.
    If lifting heavier and giving yourself some slack on form works for you and doesn't injure your joints then go for it.
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    Jan 13, 2012 3:19 PM GMT
    form is very important, if you do not have it will lead to injuries

    every now and then I think to try and get the muscles use to a heavier weight my form may slip a little on biceps but next workout its back to better form

    even worse than bad form, is doing the sets going through the motions without any intensity
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    Jan 13, 2012 3:47 PM GMT
    Form is very important to avoid injury and as a way of getting the most out of your workouts. However, I think there are times when it's alright to push things a bit and let your form slack a bit. I'm guessing you stay within your comfort zone at the gym and don't really push yourself to a point where your form starts to slip and you have to, for a lack of a better word, just muscle it up. You might want to try adding a workout now and again that really pushes your comfort zone and gets you out of your perfect form. You might find that all that focus on form really allows you to make jumps when you push it just a little farther.

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    Jan 13, 2012 3:55 PM GMT
    Form is really important to our view of things but that is not necessarily how cell mitosis thinks about it. To get cells to grow they need to be shocked out of their comfort zone. So that is why trainers are effective because they push you beyond your comfort zone and mix up your work out to keep things growing. Have you ever tried a 12 week workout on here? Also I have found massage to be very effective in opening up a muscle for growth. All professional athletes spend big bucks on body work.
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    Jan 13, 2012 6:54 PM GMT
    To the OP: your question is exactly what's on my mind at the moment.

    My trainer is a stickler for perfect form and yet I don't seem to grow despite pushing to failure on every set and paying huge attention to diet.

    Yet I see the big guys at the gym and also "educational videos" on Youtube where the guys lift the weight with bad form.

    For example bicep barbell curls my trainer says elbows should stay back and shouldn't move at all over the range of the exercise When I watch others their elbows come forward, their upper arm consequently move and they use their back.

    I reckon I'd get a better pump too if I relaxed form. I find that the failure point with perfect form isn't at the point where I have a good pump.
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    Jan 13, 2012 9:13 PM GMT
    well who knows.. what the OP thinks of as "perfect form" might be slightly obsessive and his "throwing it around" might be perfect form...

    ;)
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    Jan 13, 2012 9:33 PM GMT
    Only important so you know how your body works and what ranges your muscles are supposed to be worked. After that, you have to consider your goals. I'm the type that flings the weight around, uses heavy weights, and momentum to get the weights into the area I'm trying to work. Better to use this than steroids. Not really trying to gain size but just maintain, and I'd rather enjoy the rest of the week off from lifting weights and doing cardio instead because cardio has the cardiovascular health benefits, fat reduction (which is the big deal in looking cut, not the lifts), and the mental health benefits of reduced anxiety and depression. Weight lifting does nothing but improve body image, maintain/improve neuromuscular recruitment of fibers (you lose the ability to recruit type IIs as you age--but that's just epidemiological research) store more carbohydrate in muscles, and build bone density.
    I don't leave the gym making sure all my muscles are burned out either most of the time. I just lift heavy until my type IIx motor units are burned out, which is most quickly hit by lifting heavy.

    Muscle builders should lift lighter than me, do multiple sets till their muscles are pumped and broken down, then practice proper nutrition and recovery. But what does building muscle do for your body's physiology other than store more carbohydrate (not that that's not a big deal in a world of diabetes)? It decreases your strength to mass ratio. You'll weigh more and not be stronger. In most athletic endeavors this isn't desirable, which is why body weight athletes aren't trained like that.
  • FRE0

    Posts: 4865

    Jan 13, 2012 9:49 PM GMT
    I pay attention to form. In addition, I lift the weights (whether free or machine) fairly quickly and let them down slowly. However, I see other guys pumping the weights up and down very rapidly, often over a limited range. Also, one trainer, who appears to be independent, has guys doing barbell curls over a very small range; their elbows vary only a few degrees from 90 degrees. It seems to me that that approach could result in gaining strength over only a limited range of motion.

    I am making gains with some of the exercises, particularly with the dumbbell flies, but with some exercises I seem to have reached a permanent plateau. When I changed from the gym for geriatrified citizens to Defined Fitness, I actually lost about two pounds (which was unexpected), lost 1.5" around the waist, and gained about an inch around the chest. I've had to increase my caloric intake to avoid losing more weight.
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    Jan 14, 2012 6:12 AM GMT
    simple:
    strict form: pretty physique
    crappy form: chunky thick sloppy physique.
    throw too much weight around with sloppy form: even chunkier, even thicker, even sloppier physique.
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    Jan 14, 2012 6:15 AM GMT
    meatheadink saidsimple:
    strict form: pretty physique
    crappy form: chunky thick sloppy physique.
    throw too much weight around with sloppy form: even chunkier, even thicker, even sloppier physique.


    Not exactly. The chunky muscles come from these meatheads overeating all the time, especially protein, because they think it turns into mass from what they're doing. In fact, when you lift heavy and throw the weights around it fatigues you early and you don't burn as many calories from the workout and probably DO eat more with a false perception you burned more calories. You do learn to lift more weight this way from a strength performance perspective, but it doesn't burn muscles out due to the manner in which motor neurons are recruited to fire (synchronized fire for strength vs staggered firing for burning individual muscle fibers out for isotonic contraction and hypertrophy).

    Their chunk muscle has nothing to do with focusing on their ATP-PC weight lifting systems instead of the buffering and glycolytic capacity of their muscles like most weight lifters focus on.
  • MikemikeMike

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    Jan 14, 2012 9:48 AM GMT
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    Jan 14, 2012 10:40 AM GMT
    aedile245 saidFor the last six months, I've watched the bigger guys at the gym, and here's the thing, they just lift heavy. They have incredibly shitty "form" compared to the way we're supposed to do our exercises.


    Form is very important. Maybe younger guys can get away with it, but when you're an old man like me, you better watch your form unless you don't mind having a bad back, shoulders, knees, etc. Let us know how these bigger dudes are doing when they turn 40.
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    Jan 14, 2012 10:43 AM GMT
    RIGuy60 said
    aedile245 saidFor the last six months, I've watched the bigger guys at the gym, and here's the thing, they just lift heavy. They have incredibly shitty "form" compared to the way we're supposed to do our exercises.


    Form is very important. Maybe younger guys can get away with it, but when you're an old man like me, you better watch your form unless you don't mind having a bad back, shoulders, knees, etc. Let us know how these bigger dudes are doing when they turn 40.


    +1

    But I never saw anybody take injuries prevention really seriouly before to have experienced it.

    Only then, when you have to spend weeks, month or years to recover, can you decide to do things right
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    Jan 14, 2012 4:03 PM GMT
    RIGuy60 said
    aedile245 saidFor the last six months, I've watched the bigger guys at the gym, and here's the thing, they just lift heavy. They have incredibly shitty "form" compared to the way we're supposed to do our exercises.


    Form is very important. Maybe younger guys can get away with it, but when you're an old man like me, you better watch your form unless you don't mind having a bad back, shoulders, knees, etc. Let us know how these bigger dudes are doing when they turn 40.


    Actually, the bigger guy I mentioned earlier is probably late 30s early 40s if I had to guess. Yeah I do see younger guys doing it occasionally, but most of them seem to stick with form, it's the older guys I see breaking form to lift heavy, and they tend to be bigger too.
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    Jan 14, 2012 4:06 PM GMT
    Extremely. The difference is between you just taking a shower from soreness vs having a hospital bill.
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    Jan 14, 2012 4:09 PM GMT
    minox said
    RIGuy60 said
    aedile245 saidFor the last six months, I've watched the bigger guys at the gym, and here's the thing, they just lift heavy. They have incredibly shitty "form" compared to the way we're supposed to do our exercises.


    Form is very important. Maybe younger guys can get away with it, but when you're an old man like me, you better watch your form unless you don't mind having a bad back, shoulders, knees, etc. Let us know how these bigger dudes are doing when they turn 40.


    +1

    But I never saw anybody take injuries prevention really seriouly before to have experienced it.

    Only then, when you have to spend weeks, month or years to recover, can you decide to do things right


    Well, like I mentioned earlier, I listen to my body too. I would LOVE to work out 3 hours a day 7 days a week like I see some of these big dudes doing, but I don't have that kind of time and anyway, I get bored in the gym past 2 hours. So even when I'm lifting with crappy form (usually on the biceps, the other exercises I stick pretty close to proper form), I still make adjustments when it starts feeling bad, if I get sore in a bad way the next day I take some time to recoup.

    I know from the experience of others who pushed themselves too hard and ended up getting hurt, tearing a muscle, pulling a joint, etc. That's not something I want to experience, but I do want to get HUGE! And I'm sorry, but lifting "safe" weight and sticking to strict form for about a decade did nothing for me. I maybe gained an inch overall over the last five years. In the last six months, I've gained that and then some on a few body parts.

    I know every body is different. For some people, doing it by the book gave them incredible results. For others, they have to experiment and find what works for them and go with it. That's where I'm at because years of hiring trainers, reading fitness books and magazines, buying thousands of dollars of supplements didn't do a heck of a lot of good for me as my last 6 months. I wish I had done this much sooner, could have saved a ton of wasted time and money.
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    Jan 14, 2012 4:11 PM GMT
    Next time you need to spend several weeks in physical therapy and in constant pain because you thought form didn't matter..........icon_mad.gif
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    Jan 14, 2012 4:17 PM GMT
    turbobilly saidNext time you need to spend several weeks in physical therapy and in constant pain because you thought form didn't matter..........icon_mad.gif


    And AGAIN, I listen to my body, I'm not one of these dudes that ignores the wrong kind of pain and pushes myself too hard. I push myself hard, but I know the difference between muscle sore and joint pain. I often take it easy on my shoulders when doing overhead presses or other movements similar to that because I have some problems with my shoulders. Do I wish I could overhead press some 90s? Hell yes! But I know that my body right now can only take about 60s max before it's too painful in a bad way to do the exercise.

    I know enough about form to know the proper ranges of motion. I had form drilled into my head for about a decade. And again, it did nothing for me. Do I still do some exercises with proper form? Yeah, mainly because I know if I don't, I could really hurt myself. For example, I'm not going to get crazy doing squats, lifting super heavy, and using my back to get the weight up. That's stupid and I'm more likely to tip backwards and fall over doing something dumb like that. I use a weight that is challenging but heavier than previous and do a controlled exercise trying to get a full range of motion throughout.

    Again, I listen to my body, I'm not going to do something crazy and/or ignore the signals from my body. Maybe I should have phrased this differently and suggested more that I "cheat" to get the heavier weight up on certain exercises.
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    Jan 15, 2012 6:13 PM GMT
    Jay Cutler once said that when he'd focus exclusively on form during his delt exercises he felt like he was paying more attention to his core, back, and legs instead his delts. In fact, he believed focusing on form to that extent was holding him back.

    The only time I've felt comfortable breaking form is on simple isolation exercises when I'm trying to push out those last few reps. The basis is the same as doing some forced or partial reps and it feels pretty effective. Any time I've broken form on a compound exercise to try to up the weight usually led some sort of injury.
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    Jan 15, 2012 6:34 PM GMT
    to the OP, I've seen opposite what you've experienced. I've seen too many guys trying to just throw around heavier weights making zero progress in development.

    Like many have already said, form is critical to prevent injuries. But you need to watch these other "big dudes" in your gym. Their form might not be as off as you think. Many of these "weight throwers" cheat a bit on the initial movement, but, in fact, their movement within the exercise is still encouraging muscle fiber involvement.

    Also, if these "big dudes" are throwing around heavy weights, they're probably throwing down heavy supplements, too.