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I've often struggled with understanding if I'm working out right. I find it hard to tell when I'm working out if my form is absolutely correct. And there's only so much you can glean from youtube videos.

Are there any apps with a checklist of form exercises and/or a heatmap diagram indicating where I should be feeling the pressure for a given exercise?

How do you know if you're working out right?

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  • how do you know if you are doing the maths right? – Liiuc Apr 20 at 14:29
  • @Liiuc what do you mean? In mathemtics there's an objective answer, a green light if you will. If you're solving an equation by hand, you can always verify your solution with a calculator. When working out, I feel like you have to rely on your own instincts to make sure you're doing it right. There's no "calculator" equivalent – nz_21 Apr 20 at 15:01
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    fitness.stackexchange.com/a/6228/28178 This answer is awesome – theonlygusti Apr 20 at 19:02
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You probably imagine "working out correctly" to involve

  1. getting the form right to reduce risk of injury
  2. performing the motion with the right muscles (or mind-muscle connection) to optimise the gains from it

(1) is very important, and it sounds like you are already doing as much as you individually can. The only next steps you could take would be to ask other people to assess your form. If you don't know any experts in real life, you could film yourself and post it in reddit communities (or other bodybuilding/fitness forums), asking for form critique. Perhaps this community is also an option for that, although I'm not sure if such questions would be on topic; perhaps you can ask on the meta.

(2) is actually largely a myth; as long as your body goes through the correct motion, the exercise will be effective. The only way to nitpick your way through to improving (2) is through repeated practice and experimentation; try a slightly different joint angle, slightly different range of motion, etc., and pay attention to how it feels. It can be quite fun to do this, and may come with a placebo effect, but has been shown to actually not matter very much.

As long as the weight is low, it's quite hard to work out incorrectly. Especially since you yourself are so conscious of this. Just make sure you don't jump yourself into the deep end of doing anything too heavy too soon.

You said in a comment

When working out, I feel like you have to rely on your own instincts to make sure you're doing it right. There's no "calculator" equivalent

The calculator is: avoiding pain (which is your body telling you something is wrong) and tracking progress. As long as you are making progress, and not feeling pain or twinges, your form can be considered "correct". There's a lot of leeway within these parameters, and that's where instincts come into it. Your own fitness journey will show you what works best for yourself.

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  • Good answer, but not sure if the "progress" aspect is right there. To wit, I posted a question about pushups. While I've managed to increase my reps and feel stronger, my form has been utterly wrong - and so has the one in the video. It's one of the reasons why i posted this question: even if you're working out and not getting injured, the effort might not be proportional to the gains if you're doing it incorrectly – nz_21 Apr 20 at 18:19
  • @nz_21 in your video his abs are clearly not activated (or too weak); he's not giving his body the proper platform of support he needs for the motion, his spine ends up under a lot of pressure, and he's putting himself at risk of injury. However, the motion he's going through is still an effective pushup. Perhaps he is training his lower pecs more than his upper and middle because of the new angle of the arms caused by the arch, but the amount of work being done by the pecs is the same as in a normal pushup. – theonlygusti Apr 20 at 18:38
  • yes, that's the issue. Expert videos can be wrong, which make it doubly harder to know if you're doing something with the correct form to reap maximum benefits. I primarily posted this question because while I can do most exercises decently well, I'm sure I'm not doing them 100% right. I just don't know what I'm doing wrong and I have no way of finding out, short of posting videos and begging for help :) – nz_21 Apr 20 at 19:17
  • @nz_21 I don't believe that you can't feel the compression on your spine during or after performing pushups with that form. If you truly can't, then probably it's fine for your body (you have a supple spine!) But you were already astute enough to point out that that form (and your own) is imperfect. And yes there's no better way than posting videos and asking for critique. – theonlygusti Apr 20 at 20:11
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There are a couple of things to consider when answering your question. First, have you given any thought as to what your fitness/training goals might be? Determining if your training is effective should be related to what it is you are trying to achieve. Setting short term and long term goals should help decide if you're training correctly. Over time, you'll be able to determine if your training protocol is effective in attaining those goals.

Secondly, while using video sites for training info can be helpful, it lacks a feedback loop. Consider working with a CPT (Certified Personal Trainer), or, someone who has advanced experience and can guide you.

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