Faultless exercise form will keep you safe and transfer into more effective workouts and faster results. How many times have you looked around your gym and seen some ape using horrendous exercise form which is just cringeworthy? Yeah, I’ve bet you’ve lost count like me.
Today we’re going to explore some simple exercise cues which apply to most movement patterns. What are cues? A cue is a short, sharp phrase or point which reminds us to keep in a correct position when exercising. They’re great to use if you’re a coach or just training yourself. I’ll be honest this isn’t going to be my most “sexiest” or “exciting” post, but it’s the fundamentals of proper exercise.
Let’s start from the top and work our way down. Stay safe and get the most out of every exercise with these eight cues for faultless exercise form.
Head In Line
Keeping the head in correct alignment will encourage a neutral spine throughout an exercise. Good exercise form is very much centred around the spine, so a lot of these cues will emphasise that.
Shoulder Blades Back And Down
Packing the shoulder blades back and down during an exercise will create stability in the shoulder joint as well as through the upper back/thoracic spine. It will also encourage activation and recruitment of the lats.
Keeping the chest up proud will again encourage a neutral spine throughout the movement. Cues such as this should become a habit during everyday life when you’re not in the gym too.
Brace The Core
With all the other cues coming together, bracing the core will hold it all together from the inside out. It will help to stabilise the spine which is very important. Don’t neglect this point, even if you are sitting down on a bench or machine. Keep that core braced.
Squeeze The Bar
Squeezing the bar/dumbells/machine handles during an exercise helps to stabilise the wrists and create some tightness in the shoulders and upper back. Its also important for safety. No one wants to get crushed by a falling barbell right? What’s more squeezing the grip tight almost always means you’ll get 1-2 more reps out.
Pull With The Elbows
During pulling movements like rows and pull-ups focus on pulling with the elbows, not the hands. This will encourage more upper back recruitment and minimise a common an issue many complain about with upper back exercises – they can only feel their forearms and biceps working.
They don’t need to excessively be driven out, but keeping them tracking inline and not dumping inwards is very important. Focus on this point on movements such as squats, lunges and leg presses.
Screw Your Feet Into The Floor
Screwing your feet into the floor whilst you perform an exercise (particularly leg exercises like squats and deadlifts) will help to activate the glutes and create some external rotation torque in the knee and hip joints for increased stability. Essentially it’s creating a strong base during an exercise and prevents the knees from collapsing inwards.