T Nation

Article: "Exercise Form Doesn't Matter... At All", Thoughts?

Speaking of workouts on my Facebook I came across this T Nation article written by TC Luoma and he talks about how form doesn’t matter and how so many people throw good form out the window and cheat , throw or do pretty whatever they need to to get up more weight and they make better gains than the fellows who use good form . What’s your take on this Dr. Darden?


What do you think my response would be to anyone saying that “form doesn’t matter?”


I know exactly what you’d say but I won’t write that here, ha ha! I just thought you might get a kick out of the article . Sad thing is a lot of people will buy into it.

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Makes sense. I think I’ll try this for a bit! Thanks for the article Scott!!


I sense this comes from a desperate attempt at understanding Brad Castleberry’s muscular development. He basically patented “momentum reps”, while also claiming ~2x his actual 1RM for almost every exercise. Back in my newbie days, i almost followed suit - believing it would work for me… I’m glad i came to see the light.

To be fair, though, i believe there are a few exercises that form matters slightly less than others. Kroc Rows and Cheat Curls (with emphasized negative) come to mind.

I’m definitely one of those sad people.


Could it be correct to say: Form matters, just not nearly as much as other variables, such as to keep showing up week after week with intensity?

I don’t think form matters at all. I think technique is invaluable, but that’s a whole different animal.

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Depending on who you are reading (or talking to), “good form” can mean a lot of different things. Are we talking general fitness and health, body building, power lifting, strong man, olympic lifting, or cross fit? Start with only a vague notion of what good form means, and the debate spirals down a rat hole pretty quickly.

For example, in a body building context, what Ken Hutchins (Super Slow inventor) considers good form differs a great deal from what Jay Cutler considers good form. Both would probably agree that you should be conservative with weight and train in a way that minimizes injury and maximizes muscle stimulus. Both seem to perform exercises in a way that focuses tension on a specific muscle or muscle group. But Hutchins insists on a slow cadence (10/10), dead stop starts, control of external conditions, and (maybe) a relatively full range of motion, whereas Jay uses a pretty fast tempo, partial range of motion, and a lot of volume. I’d be hard pressed to say Jay’s approach is unsafe, and it sure worked for him. But Hutchins would likely be appalled by much of what Jay does. Who is right?

With competitive lifting, good form is more likely to mean good technique - not losing control of the weight and putting yourself into awkward positions. What does cheating mean in this context? The body builder might want to make an exercise as difficult as possible to maximize stress on a muscle using as little weight as possible, whereas a lifter wants to move the weight as economically as possible, to move the most weight with the muscle they have. You can’t judge the training form used without considering the context and the objectives.


All I can say about poor form is how it affected me personally

They caused injuries…when I started controlling my form by using a 3-1-5 cadence is when I started having less injuries…therefore, entering into my senior years…I will stick with perfect form and feel the muscle working instead of just throwing the weight around

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To me there is no contradiction in performing quick pump reps in good form, though it requires less weight/load to be performed with skill.

Sloppy reps over time would, in my case, lay the foundation for injury and lack of conditioning.

Dr Darden has a perfect hybrid of slowreps (negatives) and regular reps in 30-10-30. There you need to be careful not throwing the weight around in those middle reps, you simply can’t overdo the weight/load in order to be able to finish the final slow negative.

I would love to hear @T3hPwnisher comments, if/when he tries 30-10-30 on a couple of excercises?

I do mine like this


I love you man! Look at the other fellas reaction! Priceless! :laughing::laughing::laughing:

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Gonna be a LONG wait, haha.

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No pressure. Just take your time, and allow this challenge to grow upon you… LOL

I think it’s like everything else … it’s somewhere in the middle. There’s terrible, reckless form like you’d see from Branch Warren and perfect form that’s so perfect a 5 lb dumbbell feels like 65 lbs.

I think when form gets to the point where someone focuses on counting the seconds and worrying about gymnastic quality reps it takes away from the focus on the muscle working. Same with rotten form where someone is bouncing or swinging through the sets. Bad form also increases the chance of injury though I’ve heard of people getting hurt doing super slow reps too.

One good thing about really slow reps aside from using it for rehab is you’ll be able to train at Planet Fitness with out getting thrown out.

My thought would be, if form doesn’t matter for ‘hypertrophy’, but we know it does for safety and progress tracking, then good form is the clear winner. It will work as well for hypertrophy AND safety AND progress tracking.

Do we know that?

Of course, connective tissue has a tensile limit, and rate of force change is a huge factor if it exceeds the rate of change for stretch. Extreme joint angles can increase force quite a bit on ligaments and tendons.

i mean, technically we dont know that form matters for safety, but…