Technique is more important than you think in resistance training

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What’s the sport in triathlon where technique plays the largest part?  Swimming.  It’s easy to get caught up in Swim-Bike-Run and throw in some resistance training in between when you can.  I hired a coach a few years ago, the first thing he added to my schedule was resistance training.  He said it might help in injury prevention and structural integrity.

When you’re at the gym next, take a look around and focus on one piece of equipment.  Without leering, watch different people use it.  Do they all have the same technique?  The magic 8-ball says, “Very doubtful.”

Why do their techniques vary?  Do they all know something you don’t?  The magic 8-ball says, “Don’t count on it.”  You might see a wide range of people using the machine with different levels of experience and backgrounds.  Some might know how to use it, some might not.  How can you tell which is better technique?  By reading Optimal Muscle Training.

This book explains in detail how to assess if you’re ready for the exercise, assess your flexibility needed to perform the exercise correctly, and then show you several correct techniques for various results.  It comes with a DVD that covers in great detail most of the topics, assessments, and exercises covered in the book.

With the permission of Human Kenetics, I reprint part of an excerpt and link you the remaining portion of it because it has terrific images with explanation of risk/reward benefit of different techniques.

Risk–Benefit Ratio of Specific Weight-Training Exercise Techniques

Each weight-training exercise can be performed in various ways. Some techniques are beneficial for the development of strength, while other techniques are more suited for muscular hypertrophy. The benefit and inherent risk of each exercise
modification such as grip width, foot position, arm position, range of motion, head position, and trunk motion will alter dependent on the person’s experience, body type, and outcomes desired. The exercise modifications should always be done to
increase the stress on the muscles and not the joints, ligaments, or capsules. The following pages review variations in technique for each weight-training exercise to offer guidelines for the optimal implementation in an individual training program. Remember that high risk does not automatically mean that the person will be injured. It means that the potential for injury may be higher due to specific techniques needed for increased strength and development.”
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Analyzing the Risk–Benefit Ratio of Weight-Training Exercises

Along with a good understanding of muscle biomechanics, knowing how muscles function in weight-training exercises is also important. This knowledge enables the selection of the optimal technique while decreasing the risk of injury. Starting a weight-training program is similar to undertaking other types of physical fitness activities. All fitness activities carry a risk. The risk depends on the activity, the equipment, the environment, the athlete’s level of expertise, focus, conditioning, level of fatigue, the state of the athlete’s tissues, previous injuries, and biomechanical factors. A coding system should be created to indicate the level of difficulty relative to the person’s experience and needs to avoid injuries. Certain sports, such as downhill skiing, surfing, and boating, have an established system of coding the level of difficulty to allow people to decide the activity risk based on their self-assessed experience level. For example, in downhill skiing, ski trails or runs are marked with colors and shapes as follows: green circles indicate the easiest beginner trails that present a low difficulty level and risk of injury, blue squares mark intermediate trails with a medium difficulty level and risk of injury, and black-diamond runs are for advanced and expert skiers and present a high difficulty level and risk of injury.

Each level also offers a certain level of enjoyment, personal satisfaction, and accomplishment, known as the benefit of skiing. Black-diamond trails have the highest potential benefit, blue-square trails have a medium potential benefit, and green-circle trails have low potential benefit for the skier to aspire to. A beginner skier belongs on the green runs. If he or she takes a black-diamond run, the risk of being injured is high. But an advanced skier can go down the same black-diamond run with minimal risk of injury because of his or her higher skill level and get the benefit of a sense of adventure and fun. The advanced skier may find a low-risk green run too easy and thus derive less benefit of excitement from it.”
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