The day after I passed my driver license test my grandparents threw me their keys and asked me to drive them from Knoxville, Tennessee to the middle of Michigan. About an hour into the 10 hour trip both of them fell asleep. My only concern at this point was keeping the car between the lines and going to speed limit. While white knuckling the steering wheel I wasn’t thinking a whole lot about reading road signs….
When my grandmother finally did wake up she quickly realized I had driven about an hour in the wrong direction. After barely learning some of the basics of driving I was in over my head for driving across the country.
This same mistake constantly happens in the weight room.
You “learn” how to squat or rather you learn that if you keep your feet in place with weight on your back and go up and down that is considered by most people to be a squat.
From here you immediately begin a squat cycle that usually requires heavy weight for 5+ sets three days a week. You jump straight into the fire without having a clue how to control the water hose. Just like me on my trip you will likely get yourself into trouble if you don’t spend a little extra time making sure you understand all aspects of the basics.
For a squat this means understanding what to do with your feet, feeling the proper depth, fixing any limiting mobility, creating 360° of core tension, and engaging both quads and hamstrings. Other exercises have just as many or more concepts to master.
Without these kind of mechanics in place you will either get injured, plateau, or both. You have an automatic ceiling when you perform a movement incorrectly. Without engaging the appropriate muscles or moving your joints correctly you plateau earlier than necessary. Furthermore, if you hit this plateau, but try to push through it with poor form something will tear or break.
Dial in the mechanics, be able to do every movement so it looks the same with or without weight. Then do it consistently.