When is the best time to work on virtuous form? The obvious answer is “all of the time”. You never want to move unsafely just to get through a workout. Sometimes, egos get in the way and we want to see ourselves on top of the leaderboard. But in the pursuit of that goal, good form can go out of window in order to finish first or to lift the most on the barbell.
We have to throw those thoughts out the window. Those thoughts are self-indulgent and dangerous, fostering an unhealthy spirit of competition and could lead to damaged relationships in the box. They can also lead to injuries that will force an athlete to slow down or even stop working out. So virtuous form is requisite for every workout. But besides the obvious answer, “all of the time”, when is virtuous form most important?
Virtuous form is critical when an athlete is recovering from an injury AND has the OK to move forward with exercising. I know from experience that it is hard to sit on the side lines and watch other people workout when you are used to working out 3-4 times per week. You may have the ok to stretching and mobility exercises, but there comes a point when it’s ok to start moving more than that. The temptation is to go full on Rx on that first workout because you’ve done it before in the past. But is that the right decision in this case? Probably not.
When transitioning back into your schedule of workouts, it’s important to ease in at the speed that your body can handle, not your mind and heart. So how does that play out in practical terms? After sitting out of workouts for about week because of back and leg pain recently, I eased into a workout with 2 rounds of 20 shoulder to overhead. I would normally do this workout with at 75 or 85lbs. But since I was just starting back, I chose to do the work out at 45lbs. The lighter weight allowed me to focus on getting my arms locked out, using my full hip extension, and maintaining good posture. That isn’t to say that I don’t focus on these things at 75lbs because I do. But it’s much easier to build that muscle memory at a lighter weight. Some times, you might have to practice the movement with an empty bar or even with a training bar before moving back to your previous weight. Listen to your body, your coaches and your doctors to make that determination.
For more information about Safety vs. Intensity, watch the following video.