The practice of strength training should be principle-based if you have any hope of success. Principles are universal and tend not to change. Methods are situational and can change at any time. In my DVD Lessons of the Old Time Strongmen, the entire lecture is centered on the idea of principles vs. methods for the purposes of strength.
Take for example RKC principle #1-Practice vs. working out. We have said in the RKC for years that technical execution is more important than weight, sets, reps, volume or frequency. All that stuff is marginal until technique is dialed in. Technique is developed through purposeful practice.
What makes good lifting technique? It should be based on the principles of biomechanics and not a coach’s methods. The methods must be based on the principles, not the other way around.
Last weekend I went to PA to attend the two-day Purposeful Primitive Powerlifting workshop with Marty Gallagher and Kirk Karwoski, organized by my friend and RKCTL Phil Scarito.
Both Marty and Kirk stressed the message over and over:
Technique is king.
Kirk’s emphasis on perfecting lifting technique and form was constant.
“135 or 1,000lbs, the movement is still the same….respect it. Develop good habits. Work on your technique and your form until it is instinctive. That way when you are at a meet and you get under the weight and everything goes blank because you have psyched yourself into having an episode, you will know that you can trust your technique because you have worked on it over and over to the point that every rep is the same. That’s how you get white lights. ”
You can see in this video clip how Kirk’s technique improves as he goes from being a strong teenager to a world record holder. I asked the 6 time IPF world champion for his definition of “good technique” regardless of the exercise. He immediately responded:
“Two things: first it has to be biomechanically correct for that individual’s specific structure and second it MUST be aesthetically pleasing to anyone who is watching, even if they don’t know why.”
Marty was just as adamant.
“With good form and masterful technique, getting stronger is simple. At that point it’s just math.”
Add weight incrementally over time, but never so much that technique is compromised. Compromised technique leads down the road to injury because it violates the principles of biomechanics that insist that your joints be properly aligned. The better your form the more likely you will be to complete the lift and the less likely you are to get injured.
Does this mean that using as near-to-perfect form as you can guarantee that you will NOT get injured? No. But using sloppy technique virtually guarantees that you will. Do it well and you will get better. Do it poorly and you won’t. Logic.