Do you ever see big guys in the gym lifting huge amounts of weight but using terrible form? Being able to lift more weight by using bad form can be appealing at first, but it should be avoided at all costs! Not only can it lead to strength plateaus, it can be dangerous to your health. Whether you are trying a new lift or trying to move up in weight in an old lift, it is vital that you do the movements carefully and correctly to see the best results.
Any time you use a new lift, make sure you know what you are doing before you try it. Since there are many variations of common lifts, give them a try and see which one best for you. If you are unsure if you are doing the lift correctly, ask a personal trainer who works at your gym or even another more experienced lifter. They can be especially helpful in observing any movements that would be consider "cheating."
Once you have the proper form down, choose a weight that allows you to complete the desired number of repetitions using the correct form each time. Once you are able to exceed the desired amount of repetitions in a given set, it is probably time to do more weight. However, do not compromise correct form to lift more weight! This may seem easy at first but will only harm you in the long run. By ignoring form, you are most likely generating extra momentum or leverage from somewhere else which defeats the purpose of the lift. Again, it may seem like you are able to move up in weight, but once the lift becomes about the cheating, the muscle group you are supposed to be training may not get any stronger. This can be the cause of major plateaus.
More importantly, using incorrect form can be dangerous. Lifts are designed to train the desired muscle group or groups while minimizing the strain on other areas. If you do not use proper form, you may be putting too much stress somewhere else which can lead to injury. The point is, using too much weight is a terrible reason to risk injury.
Using correct form trains the desired muscles properly and most efficiently, leading to the best results. Bad form not only hurts your results and places you at a higher risk for injury in the long run, but it also looks a little embarrassing. Always focus on lifting correctly and emphasizing proper form as it will pay off.