In the ever lasting, ever resounding words of Jesse Williams, “Just because we’re magic, doesn’t mean we aren’t real.” Indeed Jesse. We are real, and as such, we need to make sure we are taking care of ourselves in all areas. That is the very definition of wellness; complete health in mind, body, and spirit. It’s in that spirit, that I want to take today’s gym talk back to basics.

Body mechanics is one of the first things you should learn when you join your fitfam at the gym. Body mechanics is a term used to describe the ways we move, including how we hold our bodies when we sit, stand, lift, carry, bend, and sleep, basically our posture. When speaking in gym terms, body mechanics is your posture as you move through an exercise. Proper body mechanics are very important because it can mean the difference between an injury or not and an effective workout or not.

For example, when performing a squat, its more important that you are holding your body upright, squeezing your abs and back to protect your spine, activating your glutes and hamstrings, with proper foot placement, and striving to get parallel or close, than it is to simply lift as much as you can taking your butt to your heals. Squatting properly is better than squatting deep. The stronger you become, the deeper you will naturally squat with the added benefit of proper form and no injury.

Another example I will use is pull-ups. Many people perform this exercise with a “by any means necessary” philosophy. And while normally I’d agree, it has no place in the gym, except to say, “I will get to the gym, by any means necessary.” It’s better to perform a pull-up by relaxing your shoulders away from your ears, squeezing your entire back, and using that strength to lift yourself, than it is to repetitiously swing your body up as many times as you can just to get a high number of reps. You may only get 3-5 reps in performing it properly, but you won’t put unnecessary strain on your shoulders, neck and upper back.

Magic, though we are, able to survive and thrive mentally and physically though we can, we cannot forget strategy. There is a beginning to everything, and when you start smart with a strong foundation you can’t fail. So learn as much as you can, advance as quickly as you’re able, but don’t forget the basics of body mechanics.