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Why Should I Use “Good” Form if I’m Stronger With “Bad” Form?

By January 18, 2015January 13th, 2016Powerlifting, Strength Training

There are 5 primary ways to perform a compound exercise:

  1. In a manner that best targets a particular muscle
  2. In a manner that allows for the greatest load to be lifted at the moment (acutely)
  3. In a manner that allows for the greatest load to be lifted in the long run (longitudinally)
  4. In a manner that best distributes the stress amongst the various joints and is generally the safest
  5. In a manner that will best transfer to a particular sport
Some might claim that "in a manner that makes the body look its best when photographed" is a 6th way, but I'm not going to allow this.

Some might claim that “in a manner that makes the body look its best when photographed” is a 6th way, but I’m not going to allow this.

In the video below, I go through some important considerations with regards to squatting and deadlifting mechanics, and I would like for my readers to watch this. I originally filmed this for my Get Glutes girls, which is why I began with “Hey Ladies.” Then I decided to post it on my YouTube channel. Sorry to any bros who are watching, I don’t mean to offend!


  • Michelle says:

    This is a great help. I’m 178cms and have a Marfanoid frame so everyone keeps correcting my form but I can’t seem to do squats or deads “correctly”! This has helped me to better understand how I can try to safely tweak them to suit my longer limbs. Thanks so much Bret!

  • Derrick Blanton says:

    Bad Derrick says,
    At 3:07: But, but… “Hip Drive!”

    (It helps if you say it authoritatively with a nasally Texas twang, like a highway patrolman asking you to step out of the vehicle, and then vomit out a few F-bombs to show you mean business…)

    Good Derrick says, Bret, yes, yes, yes, and yes.
    100% on board. Nailed it. As helpful a video a a FREE coaching video as you will find. Magnifique.

    Possible Cue for 8:33 good pull: “Pull from the upper back”.

    Visualize that you are a puppet, and your string runs right down into your scapulae. The string is going to pull you up starting right there…

    Visualization is fun.

  • djordjr says: Can somebody help me out. I m 6’6 basketball player and this is side view of my squat form captured a year ago.
    Can somebody give me rewievs and comnents its good or bad?

    P.S This is not box squat i m just using box to know that i m breaking parralel each time

    • Bret says:

      Djordjr – it’s not too bad for a 6’6″ bball player, see how wobbly your elbows are, you need to stay tight. But I think you’d do better with low bar squats. See if you can get that to feel right. There are some good vids on this on the internet. The low bar does require a slightly greater forward lean at the bottom of the squat.

      • djordje says:

        Do you think that good idea would be if I put smalle plates under my heels?
        And can I continue to squat with this form or I have to change it?

        • Kendra says:

          djordje–I’m no expert, but from what I’ve read and what I’ve experienced personally, putting your heels up can cause stress on your knees. I used to do this myself, and found that just working within my mobility limitations while my foot is flat, and gradually strengthening and loosening over time is safer. Someone else might want to chime in, but that’s my advice–don’t do it.

  • Mitch says:

    A very good video on the proper use of good form when doing exercises, especially the squats. Doing good form instead of improper form helps to prevent injuries. Well done Bret : )

  • Ania says:

    Thank you for the knowlege Bret! It would be really nice if you could also write an article on proper breathing patterns when strength training. I ve been having some annoying headaches when i líft heavy and do not breathe properly. And as i spoke to other girls in the Gym it si a common problem. The thing is, It feels awkward in the beginning to hip thrust in the middle of the Gym, and adding a loud breathing makes it even more embarrassing for a girl..

  • Jim says:

    In my experience bad form is a product of compensation patterns in the body. Even though you maybe able to lift more weight with the compensation it tends to lower efficiency, increase the chance of injury or atleast increase inflammatory load on the body and decrease the speed of the lift. This lowers work capacity and therefore the capacity to stimulate adaptation.

    I respectfully disagree with your take on squat form as the hips generate the greatest force when the knees and feet are hip distance apart. That is why you often see a caving in of the knees when individuals squat heavy and why we jump highest when our feet are under our hips. The problem is that we compensate to achieve the desired depth and to lift a heavier load. This may be justified for those who only want to move a heavy load but it is not justified for those looking to improve function and performance in the real world like athletes or those who want to be healthy functional humans (read everybody besides those only concerned with moving a load).

    All humans possess reflex arcs which were established in early childhood which allow for efficient movement; however, over time due to injury or poor habits we start sending information along inefficient neurological paths instead of via the faster and more efficient reflex arcs. This is called compensation. Luckily these reflex arcs can be reestablished.

    Another thing to remember is that if you begin a movement in the correct position using the correct muscles you will end that same movement correctly using the correct muscles. For the squat that means first standing correctly with the load before starting the movement. To stand correctly we must be vertical and actively pushing the ground away from you by slightly bending the knees (you don’t want them locked) and rotating your hips to the posterior. This recruits the hamstrings and glutes optimally allowing for their use during the lift. People typically compensate by spreading the legs and sitting back to activate the posterior chain. Even with a narrower hip distance stance the load is supported by and moved by the posterior chain. It only becomes quad dominate in the presence of compensation ( which is unconscious by the way so if you are compensating you probably are unaware you are doing so). Again velocity is efficiency so the faster the concentric portion of the lift the more efficient it is for a given load.

    • Derrick Blanton says:

      Jim, amazing post. So many good points in here. If you have a blog, or book, please link it. I for one, am intrigued!

      I wrote this comment on my phone, and then I came home and checked T-Nation. Ben Bruno has a great, balanced article on how a specific discipline (PL) can, and has, altered training and technique all the way down the fitness food chain. If the US was better at OLY lifting, maybe we would all be doing it a different way, dunno.

      Anyway, here’s what I wrote a bit earlier:

      “I think what happens is that very intelligent, albeit very rigid, strength training minds that come from a specific discipline, create a viable industry insisting on a specific style of exercise. The complexity of unique human movement may get tossed aside for seminar friendly simplicity.

      If you come from a PL background, then your emphasis , your bias, is that load on the bar is the most important variable, period. Consequently, you favor a SQ form that favors load on the bar.

      This form of SQ may not mesh well with every single human being’s anatomy, or goals. Problems arise when one tries to cram square pegs into round holes in order to prove a point.”

      Which is a roundabout rehash of BC’s post, etc…

      Dan Green, Johnny Candito, Bret Contreras…the times they are a changing..

      Read this article by Bill Starr, an old school hero of mine, you will see that he was not a particularly dogmatic guy:

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