In every sport, you will always run into an obsession with proper form. Though it sounds boring, this makes it so that you don't mess your body up something fierce. Without it, you could soon find yourself with a snapped ligament or torn tendon.
Beyond safety, form is there to optimize your workouts. In crew, you lose distance with poor form. In dance, you lose beauty with poor form. In weightlifting, you lose strength with poor form. It's a list that transcends even exercise -- singing, painting, writing, speaking, acting -- all of these require proper form to be effective.
Unfortunately, people obsess over form without truly understanding what constitutes it. Ask anyone what good form is, and they'll pick one exercise to elaborate on. Though wonderful they know so much about one exercise, good form rules cover all physical activities, no matter the type.
Rule #1: Maintain a Strong Core
Your core is more than just your abs. It is comprised of the entire center portion of your body -- front, sides and back. It's what holds you steady when 100 pounds are bearing down on you. These muscles are your suit of armor, allowing you to perform feats of grandeur. Allow them to go weak at any time and you will suffer the consequences.
Rule #2: Perfect Now, Wow Later
At the start, if you adhere to form perfectly, you'll feel shame in your lack to do much of anything. This is totally normal. Your muscles are still underdeveloped for the workout you're doing. Instead of focusing on how much you can do, focus on how you do it. Everything involved, from the muscles to the ligaments, need time to adjust to the added strain. Do it correctly now so that you don't have to back track later.
Rule #3: Adjust for Your Body
The problem with form specifics is that people get too carried away with what their own bodies need. The clear problem with this is that every body is different. Height affects how you squat. Shoulder width affects how you bench. Leg length affects how you run. So while it's important to know the basics of the basics, never try to mimic the exact pose of a lifter you look up to. Listen to your body. You will feel the burn of an exercise, but you should never feel pain.
Rule #4: Use the Muscles
If you feel pain in your joints at any point in the workout (and you've never felt pain there before), you are not using your muscles. One of the best tips I've heard to deal with this is during the motion, imagine the muscle contracting and then releasing. You'll soon feel the difference between pushing with your fragile bones versus lifting with your powerful muscles.
Rule #5: Better Safe Than Sorry
In the end, you know your body better than anyone else. It will hurt from exercise, but only you know when that hurt is actual pain versus simply a sore muscle. If something is seriously hurting you, do not try and push past it. That's your body warning you that some serious shit is about to hit the fan unless you stop. Give yourself the rest of the day to figure out just what happened. If it turns out you just can't do that exercise without feeling pain, switch to an alternative.
Co-host of HeroesForge, founder of Battle to Be Better, gamer, singer and all around happy person.