It’s true. When you’re working out regardless of whether you’re using free weights, machines, exercise bands or balls, you need to have proper form. Why? There are two main reasons: Injury Prevention & Bigger Bang for your Fitness Buck.
When I was at the gym earlier this evening and I was resting between sets of the leg press, I was watching my mom on the machine circuit. I had coerced her into joining me because she hasn’t been there in a little while :-). On three separate machines I noticed that she hadn’t adjusted the seats properly to her height/frame and wasn’t in the best position on the machine to be getting the optimal benefit for the time she was spending on it. When she reached the tricep extension she looked like she was going to hurt herself so I intervened.
There is an easy way to fix this and it’s not avoiding the equipment. On the machine circuits they have a help box with pictures on each of them. They tell you the name of the machine, show you a picture of what muscles they target, and give you step by step instructions on how to use it. Most of us don’t even look at it! We watch someone else go first and assume they are doing it right becuase we don’t want to look silly to the other people or pretend we don’t know what we’re doing.
Next time you’re at the gym and using the machines, take 1 minute to review the help box. Do this even if you think you know how to use the machine because you might find you’re not using it to it’s potential – get the most out of your time spent at the gym! Make sure you’ve properly adjusted the leg or arm height, hold the handles the correct way, and don’t use other parts of your body to compensate for trying to lift a weight that is too heavy for you.
Examples of what NOT to do: letting your elbows come away from your body when doing tricep push-downs or bicep curls, lifting your butt off of the chair while attempting chest or shoulder presses, and putting your feet too far down on the leg press platform.
When in doubt – ask the staff at the gym…they can help you.