I think one of the biggest misconceptions beginners have when it comes to lifting is that there is only one way to perform a particular lift. I was watching some lifting vids on youtube and was shocked by the number of people posting negative comments about a lifter's 'form'. I thought it would make a good thread topic, and if my T-Nation calendar is correct, it's about time for the 'form' arguments to start up again anyway.
In my opinion, there is a big difference between FORM and TECHNIQUE when performing a lift. Either concept can define a lift, but they have different purposes.
FORM keeps you from getting hurt. Bad form on squats would be rounding your back or leaning forward. It can also be a qualifying rule for a lift. If you don't descend to at least parallel, your not doing squats. You may be doing some variation (partial reps or lockouts come to mind), but it doesn't qualify as a squat.
TECHNIQUE is a way of performing an exercise with a certain purpose in mind. Bench pressing with your elbows flared is not wrong. It's not bad form, it's just a different technique to target a different area or ratio of muscle. Body english is fine, too, if it has a purpose.
So I guess what I'm trying to get across is that just because someone does a particular lift differently than you do, doesn't mean he's wrong. Instead of immediately dismissing it as bad form, ask him why he does it that way. You may just learn a little something.
I'd really like to get experienced lifters in on this. If you're an accomplished lifter, either by size or by strength, please post in this thread. Let us know what lifts you really get great results from, their intended purpose, and the technique used for performing them. Include any mental cues or special rules you use. I'm looking forward to learning a lot from this.