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  • Writer's pictureRichard Portugal

Proper Form: It’s Like Moving a Refrigerator

As a child, I recall vividly our family’s move from an apartment in Rego Park to a housing development on Long Island. This was in the early 1950’s, a time when the appliances were not left behind, but rather moved to the new location. A rather large GE refrigerator stood intimidatingly in the kitchen and, to this small child, looked to be larger and heavier than Mount Everest. How was that gargantuan rock to be moved, I wondered, since we lived on the fourth floor of a walk-up with no elevator?

Finally a tall, thin older man entered the kitchen, threw a rope around the middle of the refrigerator, placed a pad upon his back and, holding both ends of the rope, effortlessly lifted the refrigerator upon his back and walked down four flights of stairs. It took three other men to lift it onto the moving truck. The old man recognized my incredulity and simply said to me, “It’s all in the balance. With the correct form, you can lift anything!”

At times when in the gym I will witness many members struggling mightily to lift Mount Everest. They will swing the weights, arch their backs, force their bodies into asymmetrical positions, and otherwise challenge gravity through tortuous contortion. At the least, it is a waste of energy; at the most, they risk real injury. Exercise stresses our muscles which cause them to grow and strengthen. But there is proper form and breathing techniques for any exercise which will insure a greater success and less injury. Do it right and you can lift a refrigerator!


1. Know the muscle groups involved with each exercise. (Most machines will delineate the muscles through mounted illustrations.)

2. Mentally review the exercise and its movements prior to execution.

3. Stress your muscles, but use fluid and smooth movements.

4. Concentrate on the muscles being exercised; do not allow other parts of your body or other muscles groups to artificially intrude in the exercise (do not inappropriately arch your back or use your legs to add momentum).

5. Always control the weight; never permit the weight to control you.

6. In any exercise, muscles will shorten and lengthen. Let the lengthening support the weight for a longer count than the shortening.

7. When you can no longer perform a repetition with correct form, end the exercise.


1. Breathing is taking air in and expelling air out; smell the flowers and blow out the candles.

2. Smell the flowers: when taking air in, breathe evenly through your nose like you were smelling flowers in a garden.

3. Blow out the candles: when expelling air out, let the air flow through pursed lips as you would blow out candles on a birthday cake.

4. Upon inhaling, feel your diaphragm expand downwards allowing your entire chest cavity to fill with air as your exercised muscles lengthen.

5. Upon exhaling, let your diaphragm smoothly contract expelling air from your chest cavity as your exercised muscles contract.


Proper weight training will result in greater strength, definition, muscle mass and balance. To attain those ends will always depend on the utilization of proper exercise form and breathing rather than on contortion and brute strength.

Submitted by Richard Portugal, Fitness Senior Style, LLC

Copyright © 2018 Richard J. Portugal All rights reserved.

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