Getting to the gym is the first battle in getting fit. But once you’re there, you have to make sure you’re doing your workouts properly to see results.
Most of us don’t spend one-on-one time with a personal trainer, so it can be difficult to gauge how good our form is or if we are even doing a workout correctly.
Many people make the same mistakes when they do specific workouts, and you may be too without realizing. Next time you’re at the gym, pay attention to these seven exercises you may be doing wrong. Luckily, I’ve consulted with some fitness experts to help you figure out how to fix them.
1. Lifting Weights
Lifting weights is about building muscle, not speed. “When I go to the gym I see 95 percent of people lifting weights way too fast for the workout to do any good,” says Suzanne Andrews, Occupational Therapy Practitioner.
“If you want faster results, it’s important to work the muscles, not momentum.” Andrews recommends taking at least two seconds to lift up and two seconds to bring down.
“The most common problem I see is people who bend too far over when going down, and turn the squat into a good morning,” says certified personal trainer Colby Haskell. This will only strain the glutes and upper hamstrings and not the quads like squats are supposed to.”
To fix this issue, Haskell recommends practicing doing bodyweight squats while keeping your torso upright and sitting back as if you are sitting down on a chair.
“A proper squat should be done with a tight, flexed, back and core, and the torso should be upright throughout the movement, not bending over,” says Haskell. “You should bend at the hips and knees simultaneously, and your hips should lower to or past your knees.”
3. Pull Ups
“Although they seem easy, pull-ups are usually done wrong and people don’t even know,” says Haskell. A pull up should be done from a dead hang: Arms should be straight overhead and the back and arms mostly relaxed. From the dead hang, you then pull yourself up using mostly your lats and other back muscles, but also with the biceps.
Your chest should come as close to the bar as possible There should be no kicking or movement of the legs.
“I see people all the time doing 10 or more reps with their legs flailing all around,” says Haskell. “If you kick your legs, you are now using almost all the momentum of your lower body, and therefore not using your back and biceps at all.”
4. Walking Lunges
Improper lunges can cause knee and back pain, and this is because many people try to do lunges with their upper body standing straight up. “The things to watch out for here is pushing your knee out over your toe, lunging forward instead of straight down, and staying too upright,” says Linda Mitchell, health coach and CEO of The ChickFit Studio. ”
A lunge should be performed just like a squat: knees over ankles, chest over thighs, keeping your back straight but at a slight diagonal lean. When you do a lunge properly, generally speaking you will never feel it in your knees — only your butt and thighs.
“People tend to not do the full range of motion for push-ups and not maintain good alignment,” says certified personal trainer Jessica Matthews, M.S. “This will put a lot of pressure on the back. Proper alignment from heels to hips is important. People also tend to shrug their shoulders and not have their elbows out wide enough, which can put pressure on the wrists.”
The most common way to do a proper plan is with your feet placed together on the floor, balanced on your toes and with your weight being held by your elbows which are spread shoulder-width apart.
“Many people will either ‘pike’ their backs into the air, meaning instead of having a straight back the glut muscles are raised into the air creating an angle shape,” says Quintin Murray, DC, MS, CCSP.
“This will cause the calves and the shoulders to perform the exercise, and the abdominal muscles will not be firing. Or, many people will allow their backs to sag downwards, instead of keeping a straight back.”
7. Bicycle Crunches
“Everyone loves to do them to get the elusive obliques, yet very few people are doing them correctly,” says certified pilates instructor Nicole LaBonde. “Most people on the mat in the gym are concerned about getting their elbow to their knee. However, they’re not paying attention to the fact that to do so, they are most like just closing their elbow, as opposed to keeping it out in line with the ear.”
Other mistakes include using momentum to roll shoulder to shoulder as well as hip to hip.
Photo by ljgoyke