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Correct Exercise Form

CENTER>Baby, I'm Warm For Your Form!

And with that bit of titillation to get your attention, let's talk about, well, form!

What is "form"?
In the simplest sense, form is the manner in which you perform a specific exercise.  For example, to do a standing, single dumbbell biceps curl in proper form, you stand with your legs slightly apart, knees "soft", and back comfortably straight.  The hand with the dumbbell is relaxed at your side, with the palm forward.  The dumbbell is gripped firmly, but not crushingly tight.  The elbow is pulled in a bit toward the trunk, slightly braced.  The wrist is straight.  The motion begins by slowly raising the forearm to the front, the wrist remains straight.  Continue until the forearm cannot move upward further, due to being stopped by the (flexed) biceps.  The return motion is the opposite, kept slow and controlled, until the arm is again relaxed at the side.

Knowing when to stop
You may have tried the biceps curl above.  If you haven't, let's do it now.  Pick up a weight which you find significant, and begin doing those curls.  Keep the movement slow and controlled.  At some point, you will find that it becomes increasingly difficult to keep moving the weight in a controlled manner, and it is at that point that your form will begin to fail, if you continue.  In the case of the biceps curl, the first indication will be a need to "throw" the upper body back just a bit, to get the weight moving.  If you continue beyond that point, that "throw" will need to become larger and more violent, until it simply won't work any more, and you won't be able to get the weight up at all.  But, by the time that happens, you will be very far into improper form for the exercise, and not really doing much to work the biceps at all!

The lesson in this, is that we need to stop an exercise as soon as the form goes off.  Continuing with poor form not only does not work the intended muscle properly, but can also be harmful, due to extra stress placed on joints by herky-jerky, off-balance movements.

Getting More Information
There are far more exercises than are possible to detail in this article.  For further information on proper form for them, I suggest that you talk to a Certified Personal Trainer, and have him or her show you how to correctly perform exercises.

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