Form Friday

Form Friday

For those of you who do my streaming workouts, my DVDs, or my classes, you will know first and foremost that I believe form is your foundation. If you have terrible form, your foundation will not be stable,  you could easily get injured, and your results will not be as good. If you have incredible form, no matter your level, your chances for injury will be greatly lessened and your results will be dramatically improved.

Recently I posted an image of a display picturing the photo of a beautiful girl in Target’s fitness section holding light weights with badly lifted shoulders and thrusting ribs. When comments like “she probably won’t get injured” to “she needs to pick up 10 pound weights” etc, were posted on my FB page, I decided I needed to take some time to explain my views. My thinking goes like this: Target should have a good form-focused trainer on these photo shoots when they want to make a display of this scale because professionals like me see this image and cringe. The girl is quite obviously a fashion model which is fine, but I could have adjusted her in a second and the image would scream: “fit” “strong” “connected” rather than “weak” “light weight” “fashion model with high day rate” etc.

Here is my first image as I tried to portray what I saw:


When you view my first picture showing a lateral shoulder raise with two pound weights, you will notice that I am lifting both my shoulders and my rib cage. This form signifies that I am using, at least partly, the wrong muscles (neck) for what the exercise should be targeting (main: middle shoulder, core: outer back) as well as showing increased tension in my lower/middle spine compressing the posterior vertebrae of my lower back (or the back part of the spine). The problem isn’t going to be corrected by picking up 10 pound weights so that my arms can’t lift as high or flail about.

The problem will be corrected in three ways.

1/ I should close my rib cage (by pulling the rib cage in and down) so that I can get neutralize my spine.  (Notice I didn’t say suck my abs in for dear life and tuck my pelvis; just typing that makes me shudder and I know I need to write another blog post now!).

2/ I should bring my shoulders down into their place by lowering them and turning on my outer back muscles for stability.

3/ I should use an appropriate size weight for maintaining good form.


These adjustments help me turn on my core, or the muscles in my torso, which will help me stabilize the body while my arms move safely up to shoulder height and back down. I stay out of overusing my neck this way because let’s face it, who needs more tension in their upper traps? (These are the muscles you always want massaged! This is why I tell you when training you that if you feel your neck, drop down to lighter (or no) weights). Since I am using my core muscles to intentionally stabilize my body, my arms are not flailing and my movement is engaged.

As far as heavier weights, I am personally not opposed to any size for women so long as form is there. I am not one of those people who thinks you should never use a set of 2s because they aren’t effective or a set of 10s because you will bulk up. Remember, my tag line is “shake to change” and you have to shake up your workouts to get continued results. But giving someone heavier weights to help her form won’t work. Trust me! Get her connected and corrected and strong where she can maintain form and then move on to more advanced weights or exercises.

No matter what workout you are doing with whatever size weight, I believe you should always strive to have incredible, intentional, mind-body connected form. It is through this presence and intention of placing the frame or structure in the right place utilizing the correct muscles that you will reap both physical and mental benefits.

And do I really care about the model in Target having really disconnected form?  That answer would be yes. Because form is key to getting the results you want!  #shaketochange

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