Zack, as a body builder with 46 years of gym work under my belt, this made me laugh out loud. Every single time I’m in the gym I see poor form, and that poor form is a dead-on guarantee of injury, future hospital visits, and painful surgery.

The other day a young Asian woman was doing delt work, slinging the too-heavy weight in sloppy circles to her side. I just flinched. The dumbbell was at least ten pounds too heavy, and as her shoulder was the fulcrum, all I could think was that she was headed to the orthopod in a few years.

As an aging woman- I’m 67- people aren’t much interested in listening to me correct their form. However, I was damned fortunate that someone — several someones- did indeed correct my form over the course of my career. Many years ago when I started I emulated the gym rats whose form was horrendous. I didn’t know any better. All the shouting HUGE and dropping weights, well, it sure impressed me. So I did what they did.

Some thoughtful, caring folks corrected my form and backed me off the weights, weights that required I use bad form to lift them.

I learned three very important lessons: if you can’t lift a weight without cheating, it’s too heavy.

If you can’t ease a weight back to the floor without dropping it, it’s too heavy.

Strong people do not drop their weights.

I have never injured myself lifting as a result, in nearly half a century of body building.

I lift to be strong, so that I can survive the extreme adventures I do in the world. While I did indeed have to get rotator cuff surgery that had nothing to do with the gym. In 2017, a horse stomped on that shoulder, and several months later, another horse threw me at the gallop and I landed on it.

However because of the shape I’m in, I not only survived both accidents, but healed fast, and was riding again right away. And of course, right back in the gym.

One proviso about the shoulder: as we approach the big 70, Zack, the shoulder press, the one where we push the barbell directly overhead, is probably the worst thing we can do to an aging joint. Better the machine that allows us to modify that movement into a gentle curve, which doesn’t stress that complex joint. These days I most certainly still train my shoulders but I am more mindful of how. I want to be lifting at 95. To do that, that means proper form. For life.

Written by

Horizon Huntress, prize-winning author, adventure traveler, boundary-pusher, wilder, veteran, aging vibrantly. I own my sh*t. Let’s play!

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