Thanks to the internet, you can now learn even complex, difficult lifting skills without an in-person coach. Watch some youtube videos, read some articles, then try it and video yourself. Not sure if you’ve done it right? Just post on your favourite reddit or the social network of your choice, and ask: “Can I have a form check on this?”
There are a few learning curves here. One is in learning the lift itself; one is in taking decent videos; and another, extremely important, is choosing whom you ask for form checks.
You see, everybody on the fitness internet has an opinion on your lift. Some of these people are beginners themselves, and only know what they’ve read recently. They’ll critique one thing about your lift, and it will be whatever aspect of technique they’ve learned about most recently. There’s no guarantee they got good information, either; sometimes it just came from whoever they saw yell the loudest on youtube.
There are good and knowledgeable lifters out there as well. But you will not get the same advice from all of them. For one thing, even great coaches can disagree with each other. Maybe Coach A and Coach B would each be able to turn you into a great lifter, but each has a different idea of what your lifts would ideally look like. Trying to train with a mishmash of both coaches’ advice isn’t necessarily going to set you on the right path.
And that brings us to one of the most important reasons not to fling your form check requests to the whole internet: One essential skill of a good coach is deciding what you should fix first, and not overloading you with the rest of their wisdom until later.
It’s a process that works in cycles: adjust one thing, see how that goes, and then consider changing the next thing. There will always be a dozen things you could change, but a good coach is the one who can suss out why this is the thing you should change now.
How to ask for a form check and get useful advice back
First, decide who you’re asking for a form check and why. For the best results, you can hire a coach who works remotely with clients and who offers form checks as part of their services.
Before you hire one, find out whether they’re actually good at coaching, not just a naturally strong or good-looking person who is selling coaching services because that’s an easy thing to advertise on Instagram. Ask friends who they use, or check out some of your potential coach’s clients and see how they describe their coach’s skills and feedback.
Or, go with a friend. Someone doesn’t have to be a certified professional to have some useful advice on your lifts. Just be aware of your friend’s level of expertise, and take their advice with an appropriate grain of salt.
For example, if your friend is a similar size and body type as you, and has struggled with a similar squat issue that you are having, their thoughts on what worked for them may be exactly what you needed to hear. On the other hand, somebody who has never had your particular problem, and who deadlifts sumo while you lift conventional, is probably not going to have helpful advice for you.
Finally, it’s ok to ask groups of people for advice, but again you’ll want to tread carefully. If everybody in a certain forum is trying to follow the same advice, they will likely give you advice that fits that mould. And if you have friends who represent a range of experiences but who agree on some basic principles, you can ask for a form check out of curiosity: what are the different pieces of advice you get?
Can you then try out each of them, or do a little more reading to research which are most likely to help? If you’re stuck and looking for new ideas, asking for advice can help to get your brain gears churning.
But if you just want some basic pointers on a thing you’re starting to learn, first find a person you trust, and only then ask them what they think of your lifts.