Form is everything in weightlifting. When you do any lift, proper form is what you should be focusing on. When you look in the mirror, you shouldn’t be being a douchebag checking yourself out; Good weightlifters are checking their form in the mirror.
You see, everything about your form will make or break you when it comes to gains. And everyone wants gains! If you aren’t improving [getting stronger, getting toned, getting big] when you are working out, then you’re kind of wasting your time. So what do I mean by “proper form”?
Number 1: Leave your Pride at the Door
Stop going into your gym and trying to lift more weight than you can handle on every lift and looking like an idiot. I get that you may be nervous people are watching you but guess what? No one is! No one in there is watching you when you look like you know what you’re doing. And when you are lifting too much weight, you look like you have no idea, and that’s when people are watching you.
[I used to think the same thing when I first started and now as a more experienced lifter, I can honestly tell you no one is. The only reason you think that going in is because you’re probably watching everyone.]
As a beginner, always go in with your workouts in mind or written down, however you roll, and pick up the dumbbells you absolutely know you can handle for the amount of reps you are going for, and see how the set goes. If you rep it more than you thought you would, or just what you thought, then pick up a little heavier set of dumbbells for the next set. But don’t bite off more than you can chew and get stuck holding the 55 pounders over your head when you should be holding 30s. It is not only going to have people looking at you like you don’t want, but even more importantly, it’s ridiculously unsafe. The last thing you want is an injury when you just begin.
Number 2: Stand with a Purpose.
Whether it is bicep curls you are doing standing up, shoulder presses sitting down, bench press, whatever it is, stand/sit firmly, with a tight core and planted feet.
I had a friend that I was teaching how to lift and he would be doing dumbbell curls, and as he stood in place, his whole body was limp and feet were staggered and just looked like he was miserable doing these curls. I would freak out on him, “Stand up!! Flex your core, plant your feet!”
He had not even noticed himself and the way he was standing but once I said something his lifts improved immediately. He started working out with his chin up, a tight core, and planted feet whether he was standing or sitting and it helped him tremendously. You can’t have proper form when you are standing/sitting like a noodle.
Number 3: Squeeze & Stretch
During every single lift you do, you need to be focusing on two parts: the squeeze & the stretch. When you do a bicep curl, at the top you shouldn’t just be resting with the dumbbell near your shoulder, you should be squeezing the muscle being used [your bicep] as hard as you can with this weight in your hand. Then you lower the dumbbell all the way to the bottom and feel a major stretch.
Stop the swinging of the weight and using momentum, stop just going through the motion. There is no benefit to it!! Keep your elbows planted to your side [if you need to, fold a towel and pinch it to your side with your elbow], pull the weight up to the top at a slow, couple second pace and squeeze your bicep hard, then lower the weight slowly and feel that muscle stretch out at the bottom.
[Note: This goes for any exercise you do, squeeze the muscle after the positive motion; Then lower the weight slowly during the negative motion and feel the stretch.]