I weight lifted for around 3 years on my own, with form I learned from reading online sites. Then starting about 5 months ago I befriended two people at the gym I go to that are seriously into powerlifting and weight lifting. It happens to be a husband wife team. What they taught me is that 99% of the data you will come across online is wrong, and 99% of the people in the gym don't know anything about increasing strength beyond putting muscle on makes you stronger. I didn't believe them but when I shut my ego down and did what they said with the form they said. I started to see drastic improvements with my ability to lift heavy, which completely came from learning proper form.
When it comes to strength, form is strength, and strength is form. Good form will keep you injury free, and will allow you to attempt heavy weights with little to no risk of injury. Having good form means having your chest out and up, abs tightened, and shoulders pressed backward and down on pretty much every exercise. Stability is an absolute, which is why breathing properly is important. Having a strong mid and upper back is going to be essential to being strong overall.
What are your strength goals? Do you have a specific quantity of weight that you want to be able to lift? Do you want to just be able to go about your day and be less fatigued after going up and down stairs/lifting objects? Depending on your goals I should be able to point you in a good direction when it comes to form. There isn't a subsitute for hands on training with a legitmate form master (most of which are of powerlifting background, and not body building), but online sites can be helpfull.
One of the best ways to determin a persons knowledge on form is to watch them work out. See if they are doing every rep the same, regardless of the weight. See if they keep their shoulders locked back and down chest up (which keeps your mid back solid like a steel rod) during just about any exercise, watch to see if they bounce weight during exercises. They should know many exercises for the mid back area (more then just pulldowns and rows).
The weight they use doesn't mean anything about form. I know people that bench 400-500 pounds and deadlift 700 pounds that do it with crap form. A good way to learn is to go and see a powerlifting competition. Offical powerlifting competitions often have very strict judging on lifts, which means you can't be a moron with your form and have the judges ok your lift. You will see people lifting huge weights yet remain controlled during the entire lift, vs the local gym has 90% of people trying to lift the weight by any means possible.
There are so many books available out there, head to your local library or Barnes and Noble and shop around. Before taking one home, read through it and be sure it makes sense to you. If it doesn't sound 'right' or it describes something you won't do, find another that matches your personality. Just take it slow in the beginning, don't get hurt or it'll set you back.
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