Whenever I travel and visit different gyms it is a matter of seconds, not minutes, before I see fundamental exercises being performed incorrectly. So, I thought I’d identify the top six exercise moves that are often done wrong and how you can avoid making these common mistakes.
The three biggest mistakes I see with squats are:
Poor posture through the back
Hips and knees too far forward
Knees collapsing inwards
These errors are exacerbated by people trying to increase their weight too early. To do these properly your heels must remain on the ground at all times. Keeping your weight through your heels, push your butt back and chest up. You want to make sure you keep your knees out through the whole squatting movement. Do not increase the weight if your range of motion or posture is compromised.
The plank is such a simple but effective exercise to activate your deep core muscles. The problem, however, is that people are holding planks for 2, 3 or 4 minutes with all of the pressure in the wrong areas. When we plank correctly we want to engage our deep core muscles and that includes our glutes. With your body in a perfect straight line, squeeze your heels together, squeeze your glutes together and I guarantee you will feel it in all the right places and not be able to go for as long.
Similar to the plank, too often I see people break from a nice straight line when attempting a push-up. This is often caused by trying too much, too early. The best progression for push-ups is to stay on your toes, keep your tummy muscles nice and tight, keep your head up and work through a full range of motion but start with your hands on a higher surface. Can you perform 15 perfect reps with your hands on the kitchen bench? If yes, progress to the kitchen table. If again you can do 15 perfect reps, progress to the couch. If and only then you nail 15 perfect reps should you progress to the floor.
Lunges are great for working your glutes and thighs but it is very common to hear and see that lunges give people sore knees. This is almost always due to too much weight and too much forward movement through the front knee. When we lunge, we should focus on the back knee going straight down and straight up and the front knee not protruding further forward than the big toe.
Deadlifts are one of my favourite compound movements and they’re incredibly effective but quite technical. I often recommend beginning your deadlift journey with dumbbells or kettlebells as they are less technically challenging and these are the things you should focus on:
No rounding through your lower back
Keeping your lats engaged
A teaching technique I use with my clients is imagine you are pushing the ground away from you rather than just focusing on lifting the weight.
6. Leg Lowers
A great exercise for lower abdominal strength. The key to get this right is to ensure your lower back never arches up off the floor. Ensure that you always go slowly and only work within a range of motion that facilitates this.