It’s a killer perk to be sure, but the wall-to-wall mirrors in your gym aren’t there so you can sneak glimpses at the fine fitness strutting out of the 17:30 Pilates class. Those mirrors are there to help you train more effectively, by doing the moves you do, right. “Muscle fibres are recruited in a specific order during the execution of a particular exercise,” says Dr Gerhard Jordaan, a sport science lecturer at the University of the Western Cape and conditioning specialist with Boland Rugby. “Bad form effects this recruitment pattern and results are compromised, or not achieved at all.” With over 32 years experience as a biokineticist, he’s seen a lot of bad knee-bending and back arching.
Aside from getting the most out of the moves in your routine, Jordaan also highlights “specificity” and “injury prevention” as two reasons why you should be looking at yourself in those gym mirrors and tuning your form to perfection. “Precise movement and posture ensure that the targeted muscles benefit optimally and, that the joint structures are not overloaded,” he says. “Most free-standing resistance exercises involve muscles attached to the spine to ensure a good posture. Poor form overloads the spinal muscles involved in stabilising the back.”
By getting that dead lift or squat wrong then, you risk far more than just looking like a dork for everyone in mirror view. You could be building serious muscles imbalances or much worse, be on the fast track to serious injury. Jordaan lays down the must do’s and don’ts for five of the best gym moves.