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Thread: Getting form right the first time

  1. #1
    Wannabebig Member yasher's Avatar
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    Getting form right the first time

    I'm going to start Starting Strength once I settle on a gym that I want to attend, and I have a few questions about how to get my form down properly. I realize that I'm not going to have proper form off the bat, but I'm a blank slate. I'm 25, 6'5, 185 lbs, and I've never actively lifted before, so I don't know what the hell I'm doing , but I also don't have any bad habits.

    I realize that Mark Rippetoe lays out exactly how the lifts are supposed to be done in Starting Strength - which I own, and have read cover to cover twice already - but I've got concerns about trying to learn proper form without any support. I'm doing this alone, unless and until I can find a buddy at the gym. These questions are framed in that context.

    - I know the typical response is, "post a video!" and believe me, I'll post some videos, but I don't want to be posting a video after each gym day, and its obviously nice to have feedback readily available at one's gym.

    - I assume its worthwhile to partner with a trainer, as long as that trainer knows what the hell is going on. Is it a good idea to spend two sessions with a trainer to get the initial form of all 5 lifts critiqued, and then perhaps get back with him in a month for a checkup?

    - I'm currently looking for a small gym with a client base whose goals are similar to mine; when I find such a place, is it kosher to ask a guy who looks like he knows what the hell is up to critique your form? I realize it's impolite to walk up to someone mid-squat and go "HEY BUDDY WHEN YOU'RE DONE CAN YOU LOOK AT MY SQUAT FORM," and I'd never be so brash, but perhaps when he's in-between sets, is it cool to pick his brain?

    - If someone gives me poor advice at the gym - advice that I, as a newbie who has done nothing more than read WBB and Starting Strength, know is wrong - what's the appropriate response? "Thanks," and go back to doing what I was doing, the way I know it's supposed to be done?

    - Lastly, I intend to focus on proper form each time I lift; I'm sure that everyone says this, but I'd rather have proper form and lift a bit less for awhile, than have shoddy form and put up a bit more weight and then get stuck. If you're in the gym, and you're actively focusing on keeping proper form through each lift, are you able to feel/notice when you deviate, and fix it?

    Hopefully this isn't a repeat thread, I attempted to search and didn't find much about the basics of a newbie learning proper form. If I've missed something, please point me in the right direction and I'd be happy to close this thread

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Try watching a lot of videos of other people lift, not all are correct but you should be able to pick them out, mark also has a lot of informative videos on youtube that can give you a better visualization of how they should be done. So i would check out Marks videos and SquatRX. Then powerlifting videos.

    Asking someone at your gym might net you nothing, most people in a fitness club have never squatted. And if someone has, most likely they aren't doing it right anyways. And I have really only seen one trainer teach a proper squat, and he was a university football player, most know next to nothing. Edit: the trainers that is not football players, I would hope at that level you can squat.
    Last edited by SEOINAGE; 08-20-2009 at 06:41 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Jboy's Avatar
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    I read your other post on your diet and it seems that you want to get everything right, which is great.

    I've recently started SS and was in the exact same boat as you (clean slate). What I did was start low and get a feel for the movements with a little weight, I watched videos on youtube that explained form and gave visual examples and then I got a friend to watch me. Perfect form won't come to you straight away (it didn't for me) but you just have to keep working on it.

    You've done alot of research and I think you've learnt all you can from books, for now. Just get into a gym asap and practice what you learnt.
    Last edited by Jboy; 08-20-2009 at 06:47 PM.

  4. #4
    Wannabebig Member yasher's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SEOINAGE View Post
    Try watching a lot of videos of other people lift, not all are correct but you should be able to pick them out, mark also has a lot of informative videos on youtube that can give you a better visualization of how they should be done. So i would check out Marks videos and SquatRX. Then powerlifting videos.
    I'll do that, thanks! I've already watched some of SquatRX, and it's awesome.

    Asking someone at your gym might net you nothing, most people in a fitness club have never squatted. And if someone has, most likely they aren't doing it right anyways. And I have really only seen one trainer teach a proper squat, and he was a university football player, most know next to nothing. Edit: the trainers that is not football players, I would hope at that level you can squat.
    A couple of the trainers at the small local gym I'm seriously considering are either current or former bodybuilding or powerlifting competitors; I won't join a big-box gym, and if I did, I wouldn't expect anything from their trainers. If a trainer has experience on those levels, I assume his advice can be trusted; is that a fair assumption?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jboy View Post
    I read your other post on your diet and it seems that you want to get it everything right, which is great.
    I do! I also get in trouble because I over-analyze things and sit around in a state of analysis paralysis; sometimes it leads me to not even attempting that which I've done so much reading about.

    I've recently started SS and was in the exact same boat as you (clean slate). What I did was start low and get a feel for the movements with a little weight, I watched videos on youtube that explained form and gave visual examples and then I got a friend to watch me. Perfect form won't come to you straight away (it didn't for me) but you just have to keep working on it.

    You've done alot of research and I think you've learnt all you can from books, for now. Just get into a gym asap and practice what you learnt.
    This is awesome, and I thank you for posting it. I need a kick in the ass sometimes. Thanks!
    Last edited by yasher; 08-20-2009 at 06:49 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Jboy's Avatar
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    No problem yasher.

    I know what it's like to over analyse these things and it is helpful to a certain degree but at some point you just have to snap yourself out of paralysis and get stuck into it.

    When you find the right gym you should start up a journal to track your progress and get feedback. I hope everything goes well for you.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Jorge Sanchez's Avatar
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    Just find somewhere to lift and do the best you can. Since you're a Rippetoe fan, he likes to quite Voltaire: "The perfect is the enemy of the good."

    Just find a gym and get started. Your form will improve with practice, not from reading a book. If you want to get a trainer, be absolutely sure they know what they're talking about. Most don't so you'd be better off taking a pass. Feel free to ask people for form help - most people who train enjoy lifting and talking about it, so they will likely be more than happy to help you out. If you get ****ty advice, just say "thanks for your concern" and keep doing what you're doing. It will be difficult for you to know if you have proper form at first, since you have nothing to compare it to. Taking videos of yourself will help tremendously.
    Last edited by Jorge Sanchez; 08-20-2009 at 07:24 PM.
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  7. #7
    Squat Heavy, Squat Often Cards's Avatar
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    my advice would be to train infront of a mirrior. maybe i missed where you said there are no mirrors in the gym, but if you never said that it's the easiest way to check your form. form isn't one of those things that you just get. it takes years of practice to get good form, i'm not talking perfect form. It's something you strive for.

    If that's not a possability then yes. look around at people who are squatting and doing it well and ask if they could give you any advice.
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    I honestly wouldn't even bother asking anybody for advice, mostly because the odds of finding someone who knows what they're talking about (and understands your goals) will be pretty slim.

    It's hard to appreciate most of the details in SS without actually having done any lifting before. Get in the gym, start attempting the exercises, re-read anything that you're still not clear on (you WILL need to review many points), and after a little while of this then film yourself for critiques.

  9. #9
    Wannabebig Member yasher's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jboy View Post
    When you find the right gym you should start up a journal to track your progress and get feedback. I hope everything goes well for you.
    I've already found it, and I'm gonna join it tomorrow. I'm definitely gonna start a journal, and I may even post before photos of my scrawny ass. Thanks for the motivation!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorge Sanchez
    Just find somewhere to lift and do the best you can. Since you're a Rippetoe fan, he likes to quite Voltaire: "The perfect is the enemy of the good."
    I know this quote, and I really like this quote. I think I need to hang it up somewhere.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cards
    my advice would be to train infront of a mirrior.
    There's a paragraph in Starting Strength that harps on not checking your form in a mirror. Is there some consensus on this one way or another?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kastro
    It's hard to appreciate most of the details in SS without actually having done any lifting before. Get in the gym, start attempting the exercises, re-read anything that you're still not clear on (you WILL need to review many points), and after a little while of this then film yourself for critiques.
    I fully expect to wear out my copy of the book by re-reading all sorts of passages

    Thanks for all the input folks!

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