Form is King!

Or queen…but you get my point.

Today I had a conversation about the core, and it went the way it usually does… “I do all the exercises, you know, leg raises and the like, and I like body building but when I am racking weights I feel weak in my stomach”.

I was puzzled.

Any body builder or anyone who lifts serious weights  – I’m talking about the farmers, the mkokoteni drivers (hand pulled carts), the watu wa mjengo (construction) plus you the regular lifter – develop a strong core by default because the core strength is what makes it possible to haul all that weight.

Therefore, if you begin lifting, your core strength should develop proportionately with the rest of your body strength. Sit ups and crunches do not six packs make…Dead lifts and squats do.

Back to my puzzlement

The minute a squat was demonstrated I could tell right off that Form had become a pauper begging by the roadside. For beginners, “Form” refers to how you perform an exercise, with the correct range of motion, and positioning of the body.  In the eagerness to “body build” the basics had been neglected, down to “bracing of the core” which is usually instructed as pulling your belly button to the spine…I prefer to say…”pretend I’m going to punch you in the stomach”…that’s how bracing feels like.

And the compensations were showing.

Unable to complete a squat down on the heels, my new friend had to have the heels on the plate. This completely destroys the kinetic chain, forcing more weight at an uneven angle on the back (which will probably end up in spine curvature and pain later on), lax “gut” so to speak – no bracing of the stomach, shearing at the knees – there was already some knee pain) and a whole lot of things going on with the muscles and tendons that are not good.

We needed to go back to the beginning.

No matter how far you’ve come, there is more to be gained by “regressing” so that you may progress much faster and safer.

Start by making Form King



Here Sylvia is practicing the hip hinge. Of course she could lift more, of course she could have done a lot more than bend over holding a stick. However, this movement is the basis for so many others that without learning it properly, you leave yourself prone to injury. Also learning it this way could begin making tight hamstrings a little less tight in a safer way. You exercise longer and with less pain if the basics are taken care of.




And so I will see my new friend on Monday, for a short session, and in that session, I will emphasize regression as a means to progression.

Have an active weekend!


Leave a Comment

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *