Everyone should consider including a basic weight lifting or resistance routine within their overall exercise program. However, before heading to the gym to pump some iron, it’s important to understand proper exercise form.
When you perform an exercise with poor form, there’s a high risk for error and, subsequently, injury — even with seemingly simple moves. Not only that, but bad form also makes an exercise less effective. It’s a no-win situation that every exerciser absolutely wants to avoid.
Here, Douglas Ebner, a sports performance specialist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, helped us highlight five exercises that gym-goers execute improperly most often, and the tips you need to know to make sure you’ll perform them the right way.
Ebner noted that many exercisers use improper hand placement when performing push-ups. “Positioning your elbows wider than your hands can cause elbow and wrist pain and overuse of your triceps,” he said.
For proper push-up form, place your hands directly under your shoulders and be sure to keep a neutral spine in order to prevent your hips from pushing up towards the ceiling or sagging towards the floor.
“Overextending your back and neck to get your chin over the bar can cause back pain, neck pain or a herniated disc,” Ebner said.
Avoid overextending by keeping your head and chest up while performing pull-ups.
When performing a plank, it’s important to make sure that your spine remains neutral. Many people make the mistake of pushing their hips up towards the ceiling or letting them sink towards the floor. Both reduce the effectiveness of the exercise and the latter causes the lower back to sag. “A sagging lower back can cause back pain and excessive strain at the shoulders,” Ebner pointed out.
The main purpose of the plank is to strengthen the core, which is why it’s important to focus on engaging your abdominal muscles. “Keep your core tight and don’t lock out your elbows,” Ebner explained.
Ebner said two of the most common lunge mistakes include lifting your front heel off the floor and bending your front knee too far forward to the point where it extends over your foot.
To perform a lunge with proper form, Ebner explained, keep your front heel on the floor and make sure the rear knee is aimed directly at the floor, not out to the side at an angle.
Ebner noted that rounding your back while performing a bent-over row can cause back pain, a herniated disc and general overuse of the neck muscles.
To ensure proper form with this exercise, Ebner said it’s important to keep your spine flat and your core tight as you row.