When it comes to using barbells the is one factor that they all have in common when it comes to correct execution of the various movements, do you know what it is though?
Pretty much all of the movements should move in essentially a straight line (there may be some deviance from this in the bench press/bent over row but that’s a topic of another day).
Lets brake down the most common movements and take a look at where the bar should be and ideally what path it should stay on.
The bar needs to stay over your mid foot, any deviation from this can result in you tipping forwards or falling backwards. So long as the bar stays over your mid foot it will travel in a straight line on both the decent and ascent, depending on where you position the bar (front, high bar or low bar) the angle of your torso will differ to accommodate this and allow the bar to stay over mid foot.
I would suggest filming this from the side so you can gauge this, if you see the bar doing anything other than staying over your mid foot and traveling in a straight line then you have a problem and will be sacrificing how much weight you can lift. It is important to brace your abs as this will help keep the body in a better overall position, remember that the body is working as one in this lift.
I am referring to the overhead press, as I said above the bench press is a slightly different topic altogether.
The press starts at the shoulder/clavicle – over the center line of your body, you will be required to move your head back and out of the way to allow you to press the bar upward in a straight line so that it stays over the center line of your body. You will need to keep the elbows and forearms directly under the bar as you push straight up, often times people will try and push the bar away from them which causes a strange bar path and also excessive backwards lean and puts extra unneeded pressure on the lower back.
You will brace your abs by taking a deep breath in to your belly, this will help you avoid losing position and once again connecting the body from head to toe. As with the squat film this lift from the side.
As with the other two lifts you will want the bar traveling in a straight line once again starting over mid foot, similar to the squat the bar ideally wants to stay there, if it does it will make your body work as one unit just like in the other two lifts. You will often see that when people set up the inadvertently nudge the bar forwards and out of this position when they set up (this is due to excessive forwards knee travel), as a result they will end up having to pull the bar in to them and afire their hips up first, thus turning this in to a craning motion that only uses the lower back as opposed to a full body movement.
Once again you will do well to fil this lift from the side, that way you will also be able to see how your overall position (upper back tightness, spinal position) looks.
The main take home from this short post guys is to be aware of where the bar is in relation to your body as you’re lifting it to ensure a correct bar path. DO NOT try to do this by the use of mirrors as you will end up watching yourself and losing concentration which lacks to the skill of ‘feeling’ how the lift is. Setting up a simple camera will allow you to concentrate 100% on the lift so it’s worth doing it. After a bit of practice you will find that you’re numbers start to increase because you’re more technically proficient.
Now go and get practicing.