The Body Teaches Us Proper Form

When it comes to exercise, movement integrity is really more than just trying to achieve good form. If we train with integrity of motion, the way we sit, stand, walk and run changes. Every January, this concept becomes roadkill in the fitness traffic until we go home either discouraged or injured. Movement integrity protects you from both of these things by making your effort more productive and by making it safer for your body. Think of it this way: The more dangerous an exercise, the less beneficial. Movement integrity makes our time and effort in the gym more effective, stimulating our bodies. Let’s look at some classic movements and refine them to be more effective and more functional. 

1. The Lunge

The lunge is everybody’s favorite bun-shaper and lower-body transforming exercise. It is also the movement pattern most used in walking, running and many sports. We either love or hate this move, but if it’s doing what we want it to do, shouldn’t we all love it? Take a look at the two versions pictured here: the walking lunge or “bowler” lunge, demonstrated by Jason. As you can see, his back knee does not touch the floor and from the front view, we see him rotating a few degrees into the front leg. This couple of degrees of rotation secures the hip into the pelvis and helps us load the glute max much more effectively. 

2. Tricep Press-down

Tricep press-downs can help shape and strengthen the back of the arms. We all want muscular arms. It is a look that conveys strength and athleticism. Notice how Lindsay extends her arm all the way until the elbow is fully extended and her shoulders and posture are in neutral. She is a great example of how this movement can be done effectively and safely.

3. Advanced Crunches

Crunches can help us to strengthen a part of our core, to work the abdominal muscles to make all our movement stronger and improve lower back flexibility in a country that claims 80 percent of Americans have some regular back pain. The bolstered crunch begins flat on our backs and are completed by pressing the lower back into the table while lifting the ribcage and upper body vertically toward the ceiling. The difference created by adding the bolster helps us focus our effort on pressing the lower back down because we can feel the bolster. It makes the range of motion under pressure slightly longer and takes rest away from the movement. Be careful not to bend backwards over the bolster during the movement. 

4. The Seated Cable Row

The seated cable row can be performed at home with a handle attached to a cable machine as demonstrated in the photos here. The discipline is maintaining a neutral spinal position while hinging at the hip and loading the hips for stability. In the seated cable row, we must maintain the same spinal neutrality when the tendency is to lean back into the weight and shrug from the shoulders.

5. The Basic Deadlift

The basic deadlift is famous for fear of pain and injury to those who deploy this movement without movement integrity. It is a movement that we all do when we pick up the smallest object off the floor and therefore it is a movement that those of us free of injury should have some ability to perform. We don’t need to lift a lot of weight or work with great intensity, but we should be able to perform the task at hand without pain or discomfort and with full functionality. The first step in performing the conventional deadlift is to set your feet up with a shoulder-width stance, making sure to evenly distribute your weight between your heel and the ball of your foot. Once your stance is set, grab the bar so that your arms are straight and run right outside of your shins. In order to properly engage your back during the lift, point your elbows backwards and squeeze them into the sides of your body while grabbing the bar. With a tight core, flat back and activated glutes, pull the weight off the floor by bringing the hips forward and the shoulders back. At the top of the lift, make sure you can feel your glute, back and core muscles tightly engaged before returning the weight to the floor in a controlled fashion. Most mistakes that happen in the deadlift occur before any weight leaves the ground. 

Rock Adams grew up a farm kid in North Dakota and moved to Colorado to finish college in CSU’s Exercise and Sports Science Department. Rock has been in the fitness industry for more than 30 years. He has accomplishments in both bodybuilding and powerlifting, but his real passion is corrective exercise functional restoration. Rock is also the owner and lead trainer at The Body, a small club in South Fort Collins, where they strive to build an environment that is truly
encouraging. Rock’s wife, Rebecca, is a neuromuscular therapist of 27 years who also contributes her expertise to athletes at The Body. They offer personal training, nutrition dietetics, massage, M.A.T, light therapy 
and a smoothie bar.