As summer approaches, we’re all trying to get to the gym and work on our hot, summer bod. Although we may think we don’t need that expensive personal trainer and can exercise ourselves, we still must recognize the science behind our favorite strength-training moves.
A lot of exercises are done with poor form — and doing them wrong is robbing you of their benefits. Below are ten workout moves we’re doing wrong and thanks to Livestrong, ways we can do them right.
When doing a plank, most people have trouble keeping the shoulders and elbows aligned while engaging the abs at the same time. The elbows should be directly under the shoulders while in a plank and we need to keep our body flat by engaging our core and squeezing our glutes. This will keep the hips from sagging and will support the lower back. Try this during your next workout and you’ll feel the difference.
A lot of people make mistakes while doing tricep dips that could cause shoulder injuries. So, let’s make sure we don’t! Sometimes people overextend their shoulders because their torso and butt aren’t close enough to the bench or step. To fix this overextending, use a stable bench, step or chair with your torso upright and close to the base. Begin with your arms straight and hands facing forward. Then start bending at the elbow and lowering your body towards the floor. Then, return to the starting position, pressing through your triceps. You’ll be ripped in no time.
I know what you’re thinking. Bicep curls are way too simple to mess up. Well, somehow we do. Some of us allow our arms to swing, using the momentum to move the weight instead of the weight moving our arms. Some people also curl their wrist which works out the forearm instead of your bicep. What you need to do is start with the elbow somewhat planted at your side with a straight arm. From there, you should pull the weight in your hand towards the shoulder and squeeze your biceps at the same time. Still hold control while lowering the weight back down to the starting position. It is still an important part of the bicep curl. Watch out summer, these guns are coming for ya!
Front and Lateral Shoulder Raises
For this exercise, many people raise the weight too high during their workout and go beyond what is needed to strengthen that muscle. All you need to do is stand with your feet at shoulder width, keep your core tight, your knees slightly bent and arms straight down in front of your legs. Next, raise the weights to the height of your shoulders, which engages the anterior deltoids, and return to the starting position. Not too bad, right? Same goes for the lateral shoulder raises. Keep your arms slightly forward and raise the weights, keeping the pinky finger slightly higher than the rest of the hand.
People usually mess up squats by bending their knees over the toes, putting weight on the toes instead of the heels, and not keeping the torso upright. This causes too much pressure on the knees and can cause serious injury, especially when you add weight to your squat. To prevent injury, let’s do squats the right way. When squatting, think of your butt reaching for a chair to sit down, keeping all your weight distributed to your heels. You should bend your knees at a 90-degree angle and keep your torso upright. Let’s get those quads and glutes lookin’ good!
A typical mistake in this hamstring dominant exercise is bending over too much, rounding your upper and/or lower back, and not keeping the weight close to your body. This can cause injury to the back. To make sure we don’t hurt our backs, keep the arms straight, the lower back in its natural curve and the neck in a neutral position. Keep your hands close to your legs as you come up from the bent-over position squeezing the glutes and bringing the hips forward. Don’t forget to keep your legs slightly bent and your core tight! This correct deadlift will make your legs so much stronger.
Push ups may not be the easiest strength-training exercise which is why many people have a wrong push-up form. Most of us make a minor bend of the elbows while our hips dip toward the floor leaving our head hanging. Instead, you should have your hands placed parallel to your chest on the floor. Next, angle your elbows out for a chest-focused push-up; or keep them next to your body and pointing back for a triceps-focused push-up. Whatever you decide. Think of pushing your body away from the floor using your chest muscles with a neutral head position. Then, finish by lowering your body back to the floor in a controlled manner. Once you’ve done them correctly, you’ll learn to love push-ups.
Single-Arm Back Row
The primary muscle used in this exercise is the back. Our focus for this move needs to be on the back muscle by pulling the weight in the hand up from its starting position. Some people use their biceps to move the weight without using their back muscles. To do a single-arm back row right, keep the arm relaxed with no contraction of your biceps. Keep your back flat and let your back do the majority of the work. I know we want to show off your biceps but let the back take the cake in this exercise.
Stability Ball Chest Press
Sure, using the stability-ball is a lot of fun. It’s comfy, bouncy and great for workouts. However, we have to make sure the ball is used correctly, especially for a stability-ball chest press. Our focus for this exercise is the chest muscles, but many people make the mistake of not stabilizing their shoulders and allowing their arms to drop too far back on the ball. This creates momentum by bouncing the arms on the ball to lift the weights. Not much strength-training happens that way! Instead, your shoulders should be stabilized and the elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. You should be tightening the chest muscles while the arms straighten over the chest at the top. Return back to a 90-degree angle at the elbow and repeat for as long as you can.
Stability Ball Crunches
If you’re not feeling the burn in your abs in this exercise, you’re probably doing something wrong. Keep your hips stabilized and have your head in a neutral position to take the strain off your neck. Your abs should be engaged and you should be focusing on the contraction of the abdominals to lift yourself up. Once you hop off that ball you’ll feel that six pack emerging.