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Good Form? Safe Form? Efficient Form.

By Gus

The methods advocated in Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 3rd Edition (“the blue book”) maximize efficiency in the chosen lifts. With the goal of strength training being to increase force production, any inefficiency in the technique creates an artificial limitation on the lifter’s strength. If an improvement in efficiency allows for a greater load to be lifted, the lifter has demonstrated they are in fact capable of that level of force production and are stronger than when they could not.

Efficient form is good form.

Unsafe form is inherently inefficient. Relaxed muscle, unstable balance, and hyperextension are obstacles in every movement you make every day. It’s never a convenient time to fall down the stairs, after all. For the active adult in her day to day life, the forces her body acts against are slight enough she can more than compensate for the problem without even noticing. While weight training, she will act against an external resistance that will put her body to the test. If attempting to meet that challenge with the incorrect posture or motor pattern, she will fail to produce the force necessary to complete the lift. Under extreme duress, the most efficient positions will be the safest.

Efficient form is safe form.

Other programs may use exercises where “good form” is defined by the most aesthetic pump. By isolating one muscle without the assistance of another. Or by facilitating so many repetitions that the limitations come from cardiovascular endurance and not the muscles’ strength. The training program promoted at Gus’s Barbell Club does not worry about any of these things. Good form is developing efficiency in the movement patterns.

Read more about Good Form in The Blue Book

Pages 10 through 16 of the third edition discuss the nature of Loaded Human Movement. The explanation uses the movement pattern of the Squat to demonstrate how inefficiency creates added difficulty to the lift.

So, “good technique” in barbell training is easily and understandably defined as the ability of the lifter to keep the bar vertically aligned with the balance point.

Mark Rippetoe in Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 3rd Edition page 13
A foggy gym.