People watching in the gym; holy bad form!

I”ve worked at a big box gym for over 6 years, and continue to work out occasionally in one.

One of the perks of time spent in a large corporate gym is people watching.
Being able to discreetly observe lifters and fitness enthusiasts in this environment offers some insights (and very often entertainment) into current fitness trends.

You also get to be witness to some atrocious form.
One of the more common “problems” I see with lifters in these facilities is substituting lumbar movement for a lack of shoulder mobility.
You can really see this in an overhead press. At some point in the lift, the shoulders cannot flex anymore so the lower back arches to “finish” the movement. ┬áThis is not only bad, but dangerous form, as the lumbar spine is not designed to be a mover (especially under a heavy load). ┬áThis form over time will produce an injury.
You can see this same faulty movement pattern in the incline chest press and wheel roll out among other exercises.

The solution?
A great start is to increase thoracic (upper back) mobility.
Besides the form issue, you can visibly see a need for this exercise if your upper back curves excessively forward. It probably does. Most people have different degrees of excessive upper back flexion (kyphosis).

Try this exercise and stay consistent with performing it (every day) and you will see a relatively quick improvement in your t-spine extension (and consequently better form on most of your lifts).


Matt Pirtle MA CSCS