A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Check yourself: Use good form to get the most out of your workouts

Man working out - Good form for a safe workout

Ergonomics are important. Check and set equipment based on your height and ability.

It doesn’t matter what exercise or training program you follow, to get the most out of your workout you should practice using good form.

Good form is when you are in control of your plane of motion and target the muscle groups you intend to work. “I think good form is important first and foremost to prevent injuries and get the most out of your workout,” said Andrew Meschke, Marshfield Clinic Health System athletic trainer.

The common phrase, no pain no gain, can mask strained muscles caused by poor form. When you are targeting your muscles correctly you will experience 24-48 hours of delayed muscle soreness that resolves quickly. If you’re feeling sharp pain or wincing during daily activity you may be overdoing your workouts or targeting different muscles than you had intended.

Good exercise form creates results

Not targeting the correct muscles makes it more difficult to make progress. You may end up compensating for another muscle group like arching your back instead of using your core.

Be careful to stay in a zone and not zone out while exercising and pay attention to your body. If you feel something is off, check your form and adjust.

Common mistakes with form

When starting new exercises, Meschke recommends doing your research. Learn what the correct form looks like and check or practice with a mirror. Then add weight or increase your speed to replicate safely and efficiently.

When you get new equipment or use a gym, pay attention to ergonomics. Make sure you’re set up correctly. “The person who used the bike or weight machine before you will have different needs and machine setup than you,” Meschke said. “They (gyms) have people there who can walk you through each machine and show the best set up for you.”

Seat height, resistance and weight are all adjustable pieces of workout equipment that impact a workout and how you target your muscles. Make the machine match your body and ability.

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