Good form?
Well, here we sit in West Danville, Vermont and all hopes of going for a ride on the tandem have floated out the window. It's been raining all day and it seems will continue to do so for the rest of the day. So, since we are stuck in the camper I thought I would throw a new post up regarding form, or lack thereof.

It seems no matter how many times we demonstrate proper form, slowing going through each stage of the move - particularly the clean and presses - some members just can't get it right. I understand newcomers, but those who have been regularly coming to classes should have it down by now. Most of the problems usually come from trying to lift too much weight, and the bar is being flung up in the air putting great strain on the back. No matter how many times during the clean & press we say "bring the bar straight up to your chest", or "like your zipping your coat", we will still have those that do a reverse curl. I have even demonstrated the proper move by having someone stand directly in front of me to show that if I try to do a reverse curl, I will smack the person standing there. Some will get it - others don't.

One thing I do notice is that many times while Craig is showing what the proper form of the upcoming track will be - many partcipants are chatting, or looking bored - like they have heard it all before and they know what to do. Maybe they need to pay a bit more attention. After all - it is for their benefit that we say the same things over and over again! We all, no doubt get tired of repeating ourselves, but we have to.

Proper form is so very important to prevent injury and to make sure the right muscle is being used. I feel alot of folks are wasting time beacause their form is off and they are not recruiting the muscle we are intending to work.

Are there other instructors out there experiencing the same thing? Maybe you could give us some helpful cueing tips. What are your phrases that work? Let us know!
13 Comment(s):
On 26 June, 2006, Blogger Kitsy said...

I experience the same thing in my class. I have been teaching for 6 years and there are some that have been taking it that long who still do reverse curls. You can look them in the eye, say it repeatedly while looking them in the eye, standing sideways, everything short of calling them out by name and they still think you are talking about someone else in the class. I too have used the executing technique of having someone stand right in front of me - that is such a great demo of how it should be done, especially if you are both doing it at the same time and never touch. I'll be reading comments to see if anyone has a technique to make people "get it".

On 26 June, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps emphasize that the first part of the move is an 'upright row'. Or, try telling them to pull their elbows up to their ears. Then watch what happens!

On 26 June, 2006, Blogger Tami W. said...

I've used the upright row term. I will have to try elbows to ears! Thanks!

On 26 June, 2006, Blogger Niki said...


I do like the elbows to ears too....I've done the upright row comment and zipping up a jacket.....have also mentioned in the pre track demo about imagining what it's like to take off a wet shirt (sometimes that gets a lot of ooohs and awwwws), but I think it helps......because a wet shirt is kind of stuck to your body and stays in close.......does that help?

It IS frustrating to see members who have been pumping for quite ahile still making poor form choices......if I know them well enough, I do just talk to them one on one after class if they are still there.

One of the other things that drives me nuts is anytime we are doing any overhead work.....especially with the bar (C&P is one of those when the weight is heavier too) and you see the members lift the bar or plates BEHIND the head......arching the back in the process to accomodate the heavy weight.....yes, I know it is harder and heavier to lift slightly in front of them, but isn't that why we are there? and don't we want to be safe too?? grrrrrr! My only other complaint with form is members who do not bring their elbows all the way down to the thighs on bicep tracks. Most of my members listen when I cue them, but seem to forget after that until the next time I cue again! I feel like a broken record sometimes, but I always have members tell me how much they appreciate the constant reminders of what to do and what to feel, so I keep doing it! I am DEFINITELY open to new phrases and ways of cueing though, so everybody bring them on!!

Thanks. Sorry you guys are getting rained out today. Hope the weather clears up soon! Enjoy the rest of your trip!


On 26 June, 2006, Blogger reymond said...

Hear hear... Recently posted about participants not doing pump properly and they may injure themselves. Thanks for sharing ur thought :)

On 26 June, 2006, Anonymous scoxsmith said...

I still haven't found a really effective way to cue the clean and press moves. I demo standing close with my husband when he is in class, and sometimes call up two participants to hold the bar all the way up and all the way down in a straight line on either side of me if I feel I have the time. Some of my clubs instructors do a mini reverse when they start getting sloppy and I know that doesn't help reinforce proper form.

One thing I've been doing lately to correct basic set stance during the warm-up, back, biceps and shoulder tracks is to say during the intro phrases "Every single person in this class, widen your grip two inches." It's amazing how quickly they catch on. Now, in some classes, I can say, "Every single person in this class, except for John and Jane, widen your grip, etc." Then, those who already had it right are beaming from ear to ear. Positive reinforcements can sometimes work better than an individual CRC if you've got a lot of participants who are doing things just slightly wrong.

I am always frustrated most by my regular participants, who, no matter how often I CRC or demo after class, continue to just do it wrong. It's all the more horrifying when they express their allegience to me by saying "you're my favorite instructor, you're always so motivating and enthusiastic." If I'm so darn motivating, why can't they listen to what I'm saying and do it?

On 26 June, 2006, Anonymous spaceman said...

As a participant, I think it is one thing to understand intellectually what the instructor is saying, and another thing to realise that you personally are the one who is not doing something quite right. So I find it very helpful when an instructor comes up to me personally during the class or after it to point out some aspect of form I need to work on.

Recently, I have been working on form in my squats. Within the space of about a week, two different instructors -- neither of whom I train with regularly -- both pointed out the same problem on my form. Basically, my chest was coming too far forward, which meant that my upper back was rounding out, and in turn that my backside wasn't sticking back far enough. The solution was to grip the bar much closer to the shoulders, and actively protrude the points of the elbows forward. That keeps the chest upright and the lower back correctly rounded. I've had to drop weights and reduce depth while I get used to the new form. (The problem with the chest goes all the way back to trying for too much depth.)

Also, here is my big tip for clean and press: I like to keep my collars slightly loose on the end of the bar, so that the plates are not gripping too tightly to the bar. Otherwise, if the plates are locked on too tightly, then when you transition from the upright row into the overhead phase of the clean and press, you effectively have to rotate the plates very rapidly through 180 degrees as well as lift the weight. My bet is that a lot of the reverse curl action is actually caused by the resistance of the plates to being rapidly twisted in this manner, and not because the weight is too heavy for the participant to lift per se.

When you leave the collars on loose, the bar can spin freely between the plates both in the lift and return phases so you only have to work to raise and lower the weight, and not fight to twist them around as well. Sometimes I forget to leave the collars loose and -- surprise, surprise -- finding myself wanting to reverse curl. When that happens, I have to loosen my own grip on the bar, and let the bar spin slightly in my palms instead.

I've never actually seen any instructor anywhere point out this trick to their class. I had to work it all out for myself!

On 27 June, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an instructor I will rotate around the room during class. I will stand right next to the participant and execute proper form on track when we are standing. Many of our participant have very little body awareness. It is difficult for them to look at us then look in the mirror. By standing next to them and looking in the mirror they are able to adjust body much better. I walk around after demo the first set when we do bench work. The members at my club really like the 1:1 attention.

On 28 June, 2006, Blogger pipera said...

I will see if I can get permission to publish an article that I have by Bryce here or on my site.

On 28 June, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I go to Body Pump regularly and I see a lot of people with incorrect form in my class, especially men who load up too much in the biceps track and they rock back and forth. The instructor has pointed it out so many times and it's just so scary knowing that these people are bound to get injured due to incorrect form.

On 29 June, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Same here, BUT what's worse is that instructor does it as well (squats too high, unbalanced movements at chest workout, bouncing back and forth at biceps, again unbalanced movements at lunges, during lifting the plates overhead at shoulders she doesn't go below shoulder level - her elbows and shoulders are in line... I'm sure she would go lower if she did the same shoulder workout with the bar.)

On 29 June, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing I do is after I show proper C&P form, I show what it looks like IMPROPERLY. I do it with that reverse curl thrown in. Works well especially when there are alot of newbies in class!

On 05 August, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find pointing class members to the mirror is a help. Sometimes they THINK they are doing a c&p correctly but if they actually SEE themselves in the mirror they realise how off they are.


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