What is form?
In regards to exercise and weight training, form is a word, which comes up a great deal.
Form means to perform the correct execution of the resistance movement to maintain a safe stance, posture and activate the correct muscles.
Sometimes life and work commitments can get in the way and you may be asking yourself ‘how fast will I lose strength and form?’
The good news is that the human body is pretty incredible and versatile and muscle memory is a real thing. Muscle memory has been used synonymously with motor learning, which is a form of procedural memory that involves consolidating a specific motor task into memory through repetition.
You probably want to know how long it takes before you lose your strength, gains and form?
Let’s try and uncover a few of these issues for you…
Beginner’s form 101
If you are completely new to resistance training, form and heavy weights wont go together well, but form and lightweights will.
Adopting correct form should always make you aware of the correct alignment, range of motion and tension needed to perform an exercise correctly.
If you are a newbie this needs to come first or else you will set yourself up for a whole host of injuries and unsuccessful gym sessions. The first body part you need to consider is your back.
Your spinal column is very prone to injury so the correct back alignment is crucial for injury prevention and proper execution of most exercises.
With the exception of specifically training your lower back with exercises like good mornings or hyperextensions, the lower back should generally remain flat or slightly concave.
In order to adopt the correct form you need to use lighter weights until you have mastered your movements, going up weights too quickly will lead to your form disappearing pretty fast…
When you lift too heavy
A huge mistake many people make when it comes to form, and losing it of course is lifting too heavy. The whole point of resistance training is to strengthen or sculpt a certain area of your body.
If you are performing dumbbell rows for example, this is a move to train your back.
If you choose a weight that is too heavy then instead of activating your back muscles while keeping the correct posture your back can bend which can also disengage the area you are targeting.
‘Ego lifting’ doesn’t benefit anyone and it’s the quickest route to an injury possible!
Lift lighter so you can adopt the correct form all the time, the correct form means you are targeting the correct muscle groups and your training is effective.
If you are already tired out – rest
Another key point worth mentioning is that if you are tired out and a little exhausted then your form can suffer drastically.
Training when you are tired is not a good idea because you will try to accommodate your lethargy by using other body parts to perform the resistance movements.
A good example of this is bicep curls. The correct form to adopt for this movement would be to keep your elbows locked to your sides and use the bottom half of your arms for the movement.
If you are tired or your form is weak, you are likely to start swinging your body to get the weights up which takes the load off your biceps lessening the effectiveness of your training.
Don’t get lazy with machines
A sure fire way of ensuring your form disappears is to be lazy with resistance machines and not use them properly. This is a huge mistake many gym goers make, especially newbies.
If you are sat on your phone texting in-between sets you aren’t concentrating enough. Many people lie on the leg press and press the platform up and down, knees touching as fast as they can.
Don’t be one of these people. Always think about the movement consciously and adopt the correct stance, position and form. Control the reps and take them slow so you can feel that mind-muscle connection.
How fast will form and strength disappear if you stop training?
In a study carried out by by Lars Andersen in 2005, a straightforward analysis of strength training and “detraining” was examined.
The study involved a group of 14 sedentary men. These men performed lower-leg strength training three to four times a week for a total of three months.
After this period they returned to being sedentary again for another three months. During this time, the men enjoyed strength and explosive power of their legs tested at the outset, midpoint, and end.
It was evident that the men added a significant amount of muscular strength. During the three months of inactivity, they lost almost all of it.
When it comes to losing strength, it largely depends upon how much time you take off and how much you look after yourself when you aren’t training.
Individual factors such as age, nutrition, genetics, rest patterns and gender will impact your likelihood of maintaining strength to name but a few elements.
With strength loss comes weight loss too (the metal sense!) you will have to drop the weights to lower numbers to ensure your form remains correct or else you will easily acquire injuries and set yourself back.
The quality, range of motion, and tension will dictate the success of your workout, so focus on your form to ensure great results!