Take your time and do it right

Susan Dawson-Cook

I met model and actor John Antorino at a conference last December and recently interviewed him for an American Fitness celebrity feature. Antorino isn’t some macho man who rushes to the gym and moves as much metal as possible to look like a tough guy. He takes the time to execute every exercise to perfection. That’s one reason his body is so ripped and well balanced (And ladies, be thinking about Jillian Michaels, a sculpted female who works hard for her physique). Here’s what Antorino said about his workouts.

“If I can’t do an exercise or weight with proper form I will not do it. I see this all too often in gyms all over the world. People swinging and jerking the weight and doing half reps. It’s not only terrible for your body and joints, but it’s not working the target muscle completely.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. For anyone who has retorted to polite corrections of form with something along the lines of, “but this is how my high school coach taught me to do it,” let me explain something. Number one, I’m sorry to tell you this, but you are not in high school any more. Number two, if you use momentum or your back or any muscles other than the ones that are supposed to activate during the exercise, the activity could either cause injury or not yield the desired training results.

Since I often see errors with the dumbbell bicep curl and chest presses of all types, I will address those here. Unless you are lifting to develop athletic power, the exercise should be done at a slow tempo. Even fast tempo exercises should be done smoothly and with full muscle control.

The back and neck will want to take over part of the work during standing dumbbell bicep curl activities. If you can’t control this potentially disk herniating rock and roll, a quick fix is to sit on a bench to stabilize the back and if that doesn’t work, reduce weight.

On any chest/bench press activity it is critical that the elbows not drop below shoulder level when the weight is being lowered. Otherwise, undo stress is placed on the small and fragile internal rotators which may result in torn tissue and/or even the need for surgical intervention.

Fixing form may mean a decrease of five, ten, maybe even twenty or thirty pounds on any given activity. If you’re not sure how to execute an exercise properly, consult with me or another certified personal trainer. It is the quality of the workout, not the quantity that determines results. Strength training at its best should give you strong muscles, balanced on the front and the back of the body so posture is optimal, the skeletal system is supported and enjoyable activities can be done with ease. Take your time and do it right like John Antorino and Jillian Michaels.