The problem with weight lifting and resistance training—although both are effective ways to incorporate strength training in your exercise routine—is that a lot of exercises are easy to mess up, especially if you’re working with heavy weight.
If you’re not familiar with proper form for the exercises you’re performing, there’s a high risk for error. Even with seemingly simple exercises, like dumbbell bicep curls for example, there are lots of things that can go wrong.
Josh Anderson, AFAA Certified Personal Fitness Trainer and the CEO of Always Active Athletics, says he often sees gym-goers performing bicep curls with their elbows widely flared out or using their shoulders or bodyweight to throw the weight up.
Not only do mistakes like these make the exercise much less effective (obviously the goal of a bicep curl isn’t to exercise your shoulder muscles), but they can also lead to injury.
Injury is the enemy. Do you know what the most important part of any trainer's job is? Injury prevention. No ifs, ands or buts. And even if you don't have the means to work with a coach or trainer, it should still be your first priority, too. That means following proper exercise form.
After all, you have lofty fitness goals and you won’t be able to put in the work needed to accomplish them if you have to take time off from the gym.
I asked Anderson to share a list of some exercises that he thought could be improved upon. It includes everything from moves that are commonly executed improperly to popular gym machines that might not always be the best option. I also asked him to share upgrades for each; alternatives that he feels are more effective.
If you’re interested in training intelligently and effectively, continue reading to find out which exercises you might be doing wrong, and upgrades that are better.