14 Day Challenge – Day Seven

Welcome to Day Seven, the end of the first week!

You should have completed your first 3 workouts by now (or soon will).

On the subject of workouts, I want to talk about the importance of form.

Form (or technique) is about the quality and control of your movements, and ensuring that you are actually targeting the muscles you are supposed to be working with the exercises.

The other major reason why form is important is to avoid injuring yourself.

Lifting weights with incorrect form massively increases your risk of injury.

The classic mistake a lot of people (myself included) make here, is lifting weights with a rounded back.

It can be hard to have the required awareness over your body’s shape, especially as a beginner.

What you want to see is a neutral spine with an ever so slight arch (curving the OTHER way to a rounded spine).

rounded spine deadlift

Rounded Spine (don’t do this)

neutral spine deadlift

Neutral Spine (do this)

This principle of a neutral spine should be applied on pretty much every exercise. Deadlifts, squats, rows, romanian deadlifts, pullups, lat pulldowns etc.

If you lift with a rounded spine, you are going to seriously increase your risk of injury and you are not going to work the intended target muscles correctly.

Learn Correct Form Now and Save Yourself A Lot of Pain Later

I have a story about this.

When I was new to the gym, at some point in my first few months, I had more than one personal trainer approach me and stop me from doing what I was doing, because my form was that bad.

The first time it happened, I was doing one arm dumbell rows, with a horribly rounded back.

The second time it happened, I was doing deadlifts, same problem again.

The third time it happened, it was the same trainer as the second time, except this time I was doing barbell squats. I had a rounded back and I was squatting on my toes, with my heels well off the ground.

It was after that point when I realised “you know what, I am actually feeling like I’m in quite a bit of pain during the exercises and in the following days, maybe I should pay more attention to this….”

I signed up with the second trainer and worked with him for a while.

It was a great decision. I learned how to squat and deadlift properly and I made great progress.

But the crazy thing is, I resisted fixing my form for a long time because I didn’t want to have to take weight off the bar!

I was proud of the not-impressive weights I was lifting. I’d worked for a few months to get to that point and I couldn’t bear the thought of starting over!

This seems ridiculous to me now, and I’m glad I swallowed my pride, because the way I was lifting was not going to be sustainable for very long, at all.

It didn’t take long to catch up to where I had been, but this time lifting the weights properly, and then continue improving well past that point.

Unfortunately, I still had poor bench press form (he didn’t really work with me on bench press). I persisted on this for a long time, also lifting weights that were very heavy for me (could only lift between 1 and 5 reps) in every set, 3 times a week.

This was a complete battering for my body, especially my shoulder and elbow joints, and those are still not 100% today.

So don’t underestimate the importance of form! Put a lot of attention towards making sure you’re performing the exercises correctly!

Actions for Today!

The next time you’re in the gym, take a video of yourself performing the exercises. I always get clients to do this at first so I can check if their form is ok, and am more than happy to review these videos.

Take videos of any exercises you’re unsure of. Compare your form to the form I use in the video exercise library. Post your videos in the group and I’m happy to review.

Just prop your phone up against a dumbbell or your water bottle to record yourself (I like to put a bottle on a bench and then rest my phone against it).

Today is the end of your first week.

I usually get clients to check in on a Sunday and say whether they’ve stayed on track with all of their key actions over the week. I’ll then typically respond to any questions and give any advice for the week ahead with a recorded audio or video message.

So, with that in mind, this is your check in. I’d like you to reflect on the week so far. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Have I tracked all of my meals this week?
  • Have I hit my calorie goals this week?
  • Am I now tracking protein and hitting that goal?
  • Have I done my 3 workouts this week?

I’d welcome you checking in over on Discord. Did you do all of the above?

Have I mentioned that I am going to start culling the Discord Server of people that are not engaging? Let me know if you’re still here! Reply to today’s update and let me know what you’re doing. I can easily remove people who’ve been inactive for 7 days. If that’s you, then make today the day you change that!

If you have failed at any of these, have a think about what the reasons were. What could you do to avoid that happening again? I may be able to help you with strategies to stay on track when the same situations come up again!

Well done on completing your first week!

Next week we’ll talk a bit more about some strategies for staying on track!