Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

In the last few months I’ve had 3 guys come for a consult at my facility who’ve been following one of my programs for at least a year. It is kind of interesting to get someone in to see me who answers my “what kind of program have you been following” question with “yours”. I’ve been curious to see how good my programs translate over the internet and these were good opportunities to see for myself.

I’d have to say that the best thing I’ve seen is that all of them had continued to educate themselves about good training. They had all read stuff from one or more of the guys I talk about on my blog as influences of mine: Mike Boyle, Alwyn Cosgrove, Gray Cook, Dan John among others. I was glad to see I had sparked an interest in them to learn more about this stuff and not just take my word for it.

I was also glad to see that they had all benefited from a change of direction relative to their old training plans. It is easy for me to forget because I run in “functional training” circles but there are still a lot of people who train like bodybuilders in the gym and/ or don’t do any mobility work. It cracks me up to hear it but more riders tell me how the foam roller has changed their lives than anything else I’ve put out there. Mobility and quality of movement must come first or it doesn’t matter how much weight you lift or how many miles you ride.

However, there was one major thing that popped up with all of them – their idea of how they looked doing some of the basic exercises was different than how I demonstrated the exercises in the videos. The deadlift and the swing were the two major culprits which is not really a surprise considering that I’ve had few people come into my facility who really knew how to do these exercises.

While their form and understanding of what they were trying to do was better than the average gym rat they had still managed to drive the movement with quads instead of really getting the hips into it. Not to call anyone out (he’ll know who he is) but one of them was WAY off, complete with a rounded lower back. And this is in spite of spending the last several years following one of my programs and reading my blog.

The moral of the story is twofold – first, seek out and get the advice of great coaches when it comes to your form and execution. Someone with a background in the Functional Movement Screen would be a good start although that isn’t a must. Just to throw this out there, I’m available for private consults if you ever find yourself in the Fruita/ Grand Junction area. Investing some time and money in getting someone to show you the right way to execute exercises is an invaluable investment that will pay off for years to come.

Second, even if you can’t get to a good coach then at least film yourself doing the exercises. Go back and check what you see on screen with what you think you’re doing. What you will find is that the objective feedback from the video will tell a much different story than your subjective assessment of your form. Again, just throwing this out but I’m also available for distance consulting where you can send me video of your form and I can provide you the feedback you need.

The overall point is this – while the internet is a great tool and it has allowed me to deliver the best programs possible to riders all over the world, it is an inherently limited tool. Just watching a video or looking at some pictures of an exercise isn’t enough as you have to check your form against it somehow. Don’t assume that you are actually doing it right until you’ve either had an expert check your form or you’ve scrutinized your form on film.

-James Wilson-

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  1. Bonsak says:

    Great post James! For me, executing the exercises prescribed in good form, is probably one of the hardest things with your program. Your cardio rutines are peanuts compared to this 🙂 Trying to “see” myself when i do a certain exercise is extremely difficult. I find that this also translates directly to practicing bike techinque as well. Even if i have people check me out now and then, its so easy to fall back into bad habbits.

    Best regards

    Reply • October 22 at 11:41 am
  2. Tyler says:

    Great points! I learn something every time I video myself biking or performing an exercise movement. When I first started doing this I was horrified at how I looked on the bike or how I was executing certain movements. The ego takes a hit, for sure, but it’s so valuable to know exactly how you’re doing things, not just how you think you are moving or positioned.

    Reply • October 22 at 1:19 pm

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