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  • Peta Glaister

Technique is king. Or is it?

Originally posted on the Evolutio blog.

If you’ve ever done any of the exercise, it’s likely that you’ve heard the phrase “technique is King” (or similar).

I’d like to play the devil’s advocate here, just to question whether our fetish with form has missed the point. Maybe it hasn’t - I’m happy to be wrong on this one.

I feel like culture around technique has drifted so far out of context that it’s more like the Emperor’s new clothes. It seems to have devolved into a lot of mansplaining dweebs stipulating narrower and narrower terms and conditions on any movement and trolling any differing perspective until everyone’s too tired of the criticism to step out and say “Oi! Maybe there’s a bit more to it than that.”

Just like with everything in training (and literally any other subject), trying to make real world problems fit black-and-white principles does not work. In practice, not only is defining optimal technique a moving target, it’s also a matter of context, opinion and what is actually practicable. There are a helluva lot of shades of grey.

So why exactly is it so difficult to fit into the neat, satisfying box we want it to?

Well, everyone has variations in their anatomical structure, obviously. But I just need to take a second to stress that these variations can be a) imperceptible from the outside, and b) mind-boggling. Some people have hip sockets that point in a different direction. Some people have bone structures that block off ‘normal’ range of motion. Some people have whole muscles or attachments that other people don’t have. Some people have disabilities. Trying to make any one technique fit every body is not only pointless but can do actual damage.

Then there are variations in activities. Different sports need different things. For example, a bodybuilder, a cyclist and a rugby player may all squat differently. Even among the strength sports, where squatting is one of the biggest components of their training, not only will squat technique vary between the disciplines and from athlete to athlete, but form fads come and go and athletes will tinker with their technique over the course of their career.

And then there are neurological differences in movement literacy, learning and co-ordination. Technical things are hard and people that do things perfectly are very, very rare. So I’m going to shout this for the people at the back : EVERYONE HAS THE RIGHT TO BE A BIT SHIT AT SOMETHING, ESPECIALLY BEGINNERS.