WSBB Blog: Correcting Sub-Optimal Form

WSBB Education
Tue Jan 18, 2022

WSBB Blog: Correcting Sub-Optimal Form

In the past ten years, powerlifting has increased in popularity considerably, leading to new lifters, coaches, and training philosophies. As more and more people pour into the sport, coaches build business plans and social media marketing campaigns to entice these lifters to purchase programming or consultation. A popular topic that these coaches often stress is movement and mobility.

In the sport of powerlifting, we perform three basic barbell movements to lift the most amount of weight we can for a single repetition. If you are a logically thinking coach, you understand that for powerlifting training to be sport-specific, the programming must be organized to deliver the highest performance levels under max effort intensity circumstances. It is imperative that the athlete is familiarized with and comfortable lifting weights at 90%+ intensity.

Ultimately, when lifting maximum amounts of weight, athletes will experience breakdowns in form and mobility. Breakdowns in form are typically caused by muscular weakness, while breakdowns in mobility can occur when following a rigid sport-specific training schedule with repetitive movements. However, the modern strength coach will often have a much different take on the situation. They will convince lifters that the movement and mobility issue lies within their central nervous system, with the only options being corrective exercises and endless amounts of warm-ups.

To figure out the most effective way to correct sub-optimal forms, we must estimate what we believe is causing the breakdown in execution. At Westside, we do this consistently by performing max effort barbell lifts every week. This contributes to gains in absolute strength while also helping discover and correct weaknesses. Why? Because the weak link in the chain always causes the chain to break.

When we lift weights, we call upon different muscle groups to work in concert to move the barbell. Ever see a lifter fast off of the chest, but struggle to lock out their bench? This is caused by a lifter lacking tricep strength while having strong shoulders and pecs. All of the right muscles are doing their best to move the barbell, except one is lagging. The question is, would you correct this by increasing tricep training volume, or would you do different guru-prescribed correctives to reprogram your central nervous system?

If you intend to become stronger and more skilled at lifting heavy weights, we hope you choose to increase your tricep training volume. Even great lifters fall for these tricks. Some of the best athletes in the sport will experience breakdowns in form caused by weaknesses that lead to decreased amounts of PR lifts. Instead of having the idea to audit and adjust their programming based on the feedback their training is giving them, they follow a guru and use corrective exercises while following the same programming as before. Inevitably, by leaving the weakness unaddressed and continuing to follow sub-optimal programming, the lifter will experience fatigue and overuse injuries.

This is a path that has led to the end of many careers. Frequently, a good lifter will experience adversity in their training, lack the knowledge to make the right programming choice, and become brainwashed by a movement guru.

Here is the truth:

1. If you are experiencing breakdowns in form, or overuse injuries, address your programming first.

2. If the breakdown is muscle weakness, write programming dedicated to addressing the issue.

3. If you have a problem with mobility due to muscle or joint pain, seek the help of medical professionals who specialize in muscle and joint pain treatment.

In the modern world of strength and conditioning, many simple ideas are purposefully made complex to drive content and give a business an edge in the marketplace. Fortunately, the basic rules of human strength and performance remain the same. It's simple; if you have a breakdown in form, you must identify the weak muscle group and organize programming designed to correct the issue.

The only way to prepare to lift heavy weights in competition is to become comfortable lifting heavy weights in training. Please visit the Westside Barbell Blog if you want to know how we correct muscular weaknesses and avoid developing mobility issues. If you are unsure how to program for yourself, visit the Conjugate Club to access properly organized, sport-specific Conjugate Method training.

Works Sourced:

Supertraining; by Dr. Mel Siff

Science and Practice of Strength Training; by Dr. Vladimir Zatsiorsky and Dr. William Kraemer

Westside Barbell Book of Methods; by Louie Simmons

Special Strengths Development for All Sports; by Louie Simmons

Fact and Fallacies of Fitness; by Dr. Mel Siff


Tags: Squat, Weakness, Mobility


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