Proper Exercise Form Matters!
I usually love seeing people working hard at the gym. There are so many benefits to regular exercise. However, when I see individuals performing an exercise with incorrect form or poor posture, I get nervous. Correct form in an exercise is critical. In fact, improper form can sometimes lead to more harm than good, when working out.
The 3 Most Common Leg Exercises I See Performed Incorrectly
Lunges are a terrific and challenging lower body exercise, when they are done correctly. I love that they work so many leg muscles simultaneously. RISKS: When performed incorrectly, lunges can cause a lot of strain on your knees making them quite dangerous.
Common Lunge Mistakes and Fixes:
- Front knee goes beyond the front toe: To get it right, practice in front of the mirror to be sure you’re not making this error.
- Body weight falls to the toes: Remember to keep most of your weight in the heel of your front foot to activate your glutes.
- Upper body leans to far forward: To get it right, focus on keeping your shoulders open, squeeze your shoulder blades slightly together and contract your ab muscles.
This is one of my favourite lower body exercises because it targets muscles that so many of us are weak in, our glutes and hamstrings. Since there are so many ways to perform a glute bridge, it’s a terrific fitness move for any and all fitness levels.
RISKS: If you don’t focus on squeezing your glutes muscles tightly throughout this entire exercise, you can put unwanted strain on your low back, causing you back pain.
Common Glute Bridge Mistakes and Fixes:
- Overarching your back: To correct this error, squeeze your glutes tightly together and start lifting from your hips, moving up until your body forms a straight line.
- Uneven and incorrect foot pressure: Remember to distribute your weight evenly across both feet. Push from your heels, not your toes.
If you’re familiar with the Glute Bridge, and think it’s too easy, give this version of the exercise a try!
Squats are an important exercise to get right because this fitness move is most commonly performed in every day life. We do a version of a squat each time we bend down and pick-up anything, a box, grocery bag or even laundry, off of the floor.
RISKS: Completing a squat incorrectly, can put a lot of unwanted strain on your lower back and knees.
Common squat mistakes:
- Knees go beyond the toes: Sit back into your squats sticking your butt out like you’re about to sit down on a chair. Keep more weight in your heels to get your strong glutes muscles firing.
- Upper body bends to far forward: No matter how deeply you squat, remember to keep your chest up and don’t hunch over. Try looking up and keep your abs contracted to keep your chest proud.
- Knees fall inward: If you have this problem, practice your squats with a resistance band placed around your thighs just above your knees. Think about pushing your legs outwards against the band. This will help engage your glutes muscles more and correct this error.
Tips to Get Your Form Right
- Be patient. Don’t expect to get everything right the first time. Look at yourself in the mirror, take a video, and practice, practice, practice!
- Stay focussed. When exercising, it’s best to focus on what you’re doing by minimizing distractions. When learning something new, keep the music low and concentrate on the exercise. It’s easier to “remember” the right form once you think about, and feel how your muscles are being activated.
- Pay attention to how your body feels. “No pain, no gain!” is a slogan I avoid. If something feels wrong when you’re doing it, stop and enlist the help of a friend who works out a lot, or even a fitness professional.
- Have fun. Don’t get fully caught up in learning how to do every single exercise properly right away. Stick to moves that you know you’re performing correctly and then incorporate a few new exercises every month to keep things fresh.
To Sum it up…
It’s great to work out hard at the gym. Frequent exercise exposes you to so many health benefits. However, getting the form right in an exercise is critical to your health and strength. Review the three leg exercises I’ve described above, to ensure your form is correct.