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I don't work out with a partner and I don't want to, so that's not an option. Is there a general method I can use to check my own form during moves?

For me this is specifically about bodybuilding exercises, but I suppose the same would apply for other exercises as well.

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Do you mean that you know what good form is, but can't see yourself? In which case I'd have thought using you phone to do a bit of video might be the solution. –  Jaydee Feb 26 at 9:56
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Do you workout in a gym where there are other people, even if you're not training with anybody else? If you asked I imagine you'd be able to find somebody willing to record you so you can see your form. –  Anthony Grist Feb 26 at 11:18

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Short of getting coached directly, the best tool for the job is taking video. There are a number of digital video recorders that have at least an hour of video available on the device. When you are training by yourself, you want a video recorder that can stable enough for you to stand up and trust that it won't fall over while you are lifting. You may need a mini tripod if that's going to be difficult.

  • You won't be able to get your full body in the shot, so decide what's the most critical part and position the camera so you will capture that.
  • Experiment and find the best angle and distance to capture the video. You might be constrained by the environment (i.e. where equipment is placed, high traffic areas, etc.)
  • Review the video after every set. It should at least tell you if you are getting deep enough on squats, etc.

After the training is done, take the video off the device and do a bit of post processing. At the very simplest, you'll want to remove all the dead time. There's even some free software that can help you analyze your movement patterns called Kinovea. There's a pretty steep learning curve with that, but you'll be able to tell if the bar is moving in a straight line, and it will help you understand where you need to improve.

I never train with a partner either, mostly due to logistics. However I've found that using video, I can see and correct things myself, and my coach who is in another state can review my technique and progress. He's been able to identify supplemental work I needed to do to enable better technique at some of my lifts.

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If you don't have a coach to review the footage it's very important to get another set of eyes to look at it, even if it's just a thread on a lifting forum (4chan's /fit/ board is the site I've used for that). If you are the only one to review your footage, you can only identify technical breakdowns you know to look for and can miss potentially dangerous mistakes. –  maxywb Feb 26 at 18:53
    
Agreed. I have historically used ironstrong.org for that purpose, and have always gotten good feedback. I still post there, even though I'm working with a coach now. –  Berin Loritsch Feb 26 at 21:15

Try using mirrors. That's what we did in the "old" days before video.

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Mirrors encourage you to crane your neck to watch the whole lift, this can put too much stress on the neck. It's also a crutch, and hampers the lifter's ability to "feel" what good form is, instead of just seeing it. –  maxywb Feb 26 at 18:47
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@maxywb I disagree. Ever been in a bodybuilding gym? Mirrors provide immediate spatial feedback. Video provides it after the fact. –  rrirower Feb 26 at 19:20
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Sure there's less risk involved in more bb-specific movements (ie curls), but the neck should always be in a neutral position, and since mirrors don't move your neck will have to. But you're right that curls don't need the same kinesthetic feedback. –  maxywb Feb 26 at 19:27
    
I'm voting up this answer. I think this is perfectly valid answer. You can watch yourself at mirror and see, if you are doing it in the correct way or not. Unless it is bench press,where you need to feel it yourself if your are doing it right or wrong. Or you can have someone spot you. I'm not a pro but I have enough experience and I still do workout, and watching the mirror still helps me –  Biplov13 Feb 26 at 19:34
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So, in a squat for example, are you supposed to turn your neck to the side while in the middle of the exercise to check your back alignment? –  JohnP Feb 27 at 14:55

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