Form Form and Form

Hang out in a gym long enough and you hear a litany of complaints—injured shoulders, stiff backs, tweaked biceps, and strained hamstrings. The causes are many and varied, but the biggest culprit is bad technique. Proper technique is the key not only to making solid strength gains, but also to maintaining health over the long term.

Generally speaking, using good form means lifting less weight than you might think you're able. Proper form requires you to isolate the muscle or muscles you're trying to build, which makes the exercise harder to perform.

We'll give you a complete description of the proper way to execute each exercise we recommend in the appropriate chapters, but you should keep in mind that the actual amount of weight you lift is in many ways insignificant. Instead, what's important is how you lift that weight. Remember that you're lifting to improve your body and mind, not to pump up your ego. Lifting slowly through a full range of motion is your ultimate goal. If you practice proper technique from the beginning, you'll build a solid base—strength from the inside out. Slow, controlled movements and proper breathing are a few of the key components we'll be stressing.

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