#AskTheExpert: How to Perfect Your Training Form with Youssef Salem

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When was the last time you considered your form while doing your workout? Most of the time we just want to get it over and done with and pat ourselves on the back when we can lift 5kg’s extra, but expert trainer Youssef Salem of AOS (Art of Sport) explains exactly why and how we should pay more attention to technique and form while training.

Why is maintaining proper form important when exercising?
Proper form is vital for many reasons. While doing any workout there are several muscles being activated, mainly primary, secondary and stabilizer muscles. While performing correct form you are making sure that each muscle is performing its correct function and getting stronger the way it’s intended. Second; correct form is the only way to get stronger the safest way possible. For example, while doing a deadlift your hamstrings and glutes are considered primary, while the back and core muscles are stabilizers. Therefore, performing the correct technique will make sure that each muscle is doing its job correctly. You can see a lot of people that round their back to lift the weight and this is when they use their back as a primary muscle and get injured.

What is the most common mistake you see when training with regards to proper form?
The most common mistake is that people do not care to do proper form, as they are just interested in lifting heavier weights. For example someone who squats 100 KG while doing a bad form (sometimes he even knows that this is a bad form) gets more satisfaction than lifting 60 KG but with good form. Compromising in the form will make you lift heavier weights while lifting 60 KG with a proper form will lead to more strength.

What are some tips to avoid injuries when carrying a heavy weight on the back (e.g. back squats, barbell lunges etc)?
There are 3 main tips. If you don’t do them, don’t even think of lifting heavy:
1. Have a straight back
2. Chest looking forward
3. Eyes neutral position

Please give us some tips on how to properly perform:
Squats: Back straight, neutral spine, and chest and shoulders up. Focus on keeping your knees in line with your feet, never over your toes, while being externally rotated
Deadlift: Walk up to the bar, activate your hamstrings, and bend your knees; your shins should touch the bar. Lift your chest, straighten your back and pull the bar up as you bring your body up.
Plank: Bend your elbows, put your weight on it and have a straight body line from shoulders to ankles while engaging your core.
Lunge: Upper body straight, shoulders back, relaxed and chin up, step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent. Go down until back knee nears the ground and get up.
Push-ups: Get into a high plank position with palms on the floor. Lower your body until your chest grazes the floor while keeping a flat back and a neutral neck, then push yourself back up.

What are some high impact exercises that should be avoided if someone has knee injuries?
There are a lot of different knee injuries so it is hard to pinpoint specific exercises. As a tip, use the pain as an indicator. If it hurts don’t do it, and always listen to your body.

What are some tips for people who want to do plyometric exercises but are afraid that they may injure themselves?
Actually plyometric exercises are not for everyone and are not for beginners. A certain fitness level is required to be able to do plyometric workouts because of the amount of stress that these types of workouts put on your body. For the people who are afraid, just take it step by step. There are always easy progressions for any hard workout. With time you will be able to do it, commitment is the key.

Is stretching important before exercising to improve flexibility of the muscles?
There are several types of stretching; static, active, self-myofascial release (AMR) and dynamic stretching. Static is when you hold the stretch for more then 30 sec, active is when the stretch is held for 2 seconds and performed in several repetitions, SMR is usually performed by the foam rollers, and dynamic has many forms such as warming up by doing the same movements you will start to practice. Active, SMR and dynamic stretching are vital before working out, while static and SMR are best recommended for after workout. Beware that static stretching is very dangerous before warming up.

What are some exercises you would only recommend for advanced athletes in order to prevent risk of injury?
I recommend for advanced athletes to constantly focus on these workouts:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Pull Ups
  • Deadlift
  • Bench Press
  • Shoulder Press

Also focusing on flexibility, mobility, HIIT workouts and building a strong core are vital to have complete fitness for an athlete.

How can clients connect with you?
They can contact me through the AOS Fitness Facility.
Website: www.aos.fit
Instagram: AOSeg
Phone number: 01026000309
Location: The Clubhouse of El Gezira Compound, Sheikh Zayed.

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