Video yourself for max gains
Many people never advance beyond the intermediate state in bodybuilding because they fail to learn that form is more important than poundage used. Seriously, if you want to lift lots of weight then just do squats or deadlifts – those complex compound exercises use every muscle in the body. To maximize the benefit the strength and mass gains from an isolation exercise, it has to be an ISOLATION exercise and that means that only ONE joint will be moving and everything else in the body will be stationary.
One of the toughest things with lifting weights is to know how to perform each exercise, the form. Who do you believe, even experts seem to contradict each other. Its hard enough to get people to agree on the correct form of a simple isolation exercise, its harder yet to get agreement on complex movements like squats or deadlifts. Most people learn form by watching those around them in the gym, most of whom have horrible form like the guy to the right here. The OTHER problem is that many people know good form and in their minds eye, they are doing it … but they are not.
Now here is the part where you expect me to say that you should watch my vids to learn good form – no. I’m here to tell you how YOU can be your own expert with the help of your own videos. Thats right, Ask a friend to video you performing a real sets with your real weights. There are two things you can learn from this, first you can do motion analysis to see what muscle are working and second you can check if you are using the form you think you are. Many of you will be shocked at the difference between what they *think* they are doing what they actually ARE doing. Watch your video carefully, especially the last reps when you are tired. Does your form stay good? How is your range of motion? How is your speed? Are you racing thru the last reps? Are you breathing or holding your breath? Are you swinging and using momentum?
After watching the video, if you still think you have flawless form – do simple motion analysis, you don’t need a PhD for this, In fact, you don’t need any education at all.
Motion Analysis 101
- Watch the video and watch for what joints in the body are moving – look at the knees, hips, shoulders, and elbows.
- If a joint is moving then a muscle attached to it is working – its that simple!
- For each joint that is rotating, figure out what muscle is being used in rotating that joint. If you have lifted weights you know intuitively what muscles make these joints move. If you are not sure, grab a light barbell or dumbbell and rotate that joint while holding the weight and see what muscle is moving the bar.
- Ask yourself if that is a muscle you want to be working or not. If it is not, then don’t rotate that joint!!!!!
Lets analyze my friend in the above video clip of a “barbell curl”, watch it now if you haven’t yet. here who probably thinks he is doing a bicep exercise. First notice his knees are bending. What muscle pushes you up like this? Right, your quads – the biggest muscle in the body. Not look at his hip joint, thats moving too, he is bending forward at the hip then extending back to straight. What muscle straightens your back like this? Right, the hamstrings – also a huge muscle.
So far its clear this “curl” is a just great leg exercise. Lets move up the body and look at his shoulder joint, yep, its moving too so that means he’s using shoulders. Finally, lets look at the elbows. To work the bicep you need to rotate the elbow from straight but not locked to either horizontal or all the way up. What we see is that he is only doing the top half of the curl, he never goes to straight so he is completely skipping the most important part of the range.
You can be your own expert trainer! Video yourself, see if you are doing what you think you are doing then do motion analysis and see what joints are moving, figure what muscles are being used – and ask yourself if you are targeting the muscles you think you are. Bodybuilding is a thinking sport. You always have to be thinking about what you are doing and why. If you are doing it just because somebody told you to, even if its me, you need to start questioning more!