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Proper Form Shapes Your Body

By Khristine Clark Hammond, MS CSCS

When exercising, good form is crucial in order to get benefits and avoid injury. Ask yourself the following questions as you perform an exercise: 

  1. What am I trying to accomplish with this exercise?
  2. What muscle group(s) am I targeting?
  3. Am I effectively performing the exercise in a way that accomplishes my goal?
  4. Am I using proper form? 


Too often, we just go through the motions of our exercise routine without taking the time to think about the answers to these questions. Challenge yourself to slow down and think about what you’re doing as you exercise.

Here’s an exercise routine that may help you kick your concentration level up a notch:


Pilates Short Box Exercise: (for external obliques)

To perform this exercise at home, you need a long, thin pole for balance (a broom or mop stick), a bench and a place to anchor your feet (you can hook your feet under a bed frame or couch).


1.  Sit on the bench with your feet hooked under the anchor.

2.  Place the pole in your lap and hold it with both hands placed shoulder-width apart.

3.  Retract your shoulders, contract your abdominals, and lengthen through your spine.

4.  Inhale and raise the pole over head and lengthen your arms.

5.  Exhale and twist your torso to the right as far as you can. The rotation should be from the waist, not the hips. The hips should remain forward and stabilized.

6. Inhale and lean back diagonally as far as you can under control. The hip on the opposite side is allowed to come off of the bench. The core should be locked in the twisted and lengthened position for the duration of the exercise. Be careful not to collapse at the waist. The space between the ribs and pelvis should remain consistent.

7.  Once you have reached the end range of motion, forcefully exhale and contract the external obliques on the opposite side to return to the starting position.

8. Repeat on the other side.

9. Perform one set of 6-10 reps on each side.


Since form is important, you may want to perform this exercise in front of a mirror or better yet, ask a friend or even a child to watch you as they read the directions. Form is critical but so is consistency so have fun and make exercise a part of your life!