Three of the top body-weight exercises are the pushup, squats, and lunges.
All three of these can be hard work, particularly for the beginning exerciser. But if you do them incorrectly, all that demanding work is for naught. And you increase the chance of injury.
Listed below are some of the errors with pushups, squats, and lunges, and how you can fix your technique to avoid injury and get the most bang for the buck.
Here are 3 Exercises that Are Often Done Incorrectly and How to Fix Them:
Pushups can be hard, especially if you lack upper body strength. Some common errors with pushups are:
- You don’t have the upper body strength to do a full set of pushups.
- You round your back (like a cat), so your nose touches the floor first.
- Alternately, your stomach sags, which can cause lower back pain during the pushup.
- You just move your hips up and down, rather than the whole body.
- Lifting your head, like watching the instructor or checking out the person ahead of you.
- Your chest is not parallel to the floor.
- Your hands are not in the right position.
- You don’t go all the way down.
How to fix things:
- If pushups are too hard for you, do them from the knees, not the toes.
- Keep the back straight; use your core muscles to stabilize. There should be a straight line from the ears to the heels.
- Just before you touch down, make sure your chest is parallel to the floor. (Once you hit the ground, it always will be!)
- Hand position determines which muscles are used. Keeping hands shoulder width or further works the chest muscles (which is probably what you want). Hands closer together work the triceps.
It’s hard to check your form without messing up your form. Have a friend watch your moves, or basically listen to your body. If you feel muscle strain, that’s probably a cue that you’re doing the exercise incorrectly.
Note: these mistakes and fixes also apply to the Plank.
- Squats –
Squats are one the best exercises, and most hated. They are hard, and there definitely is a risk of injury if you do them incorrectly. Common errors are:
- Not keeping your back straight; your bend from the back, making the spine and back more susceptible to injury.
- Your knees track past the toes as you squat. This stresses the knee and can throw you off balance (if weight goes to your toes and your heels come off the ground).
- Your knees cave inward.
- Not going low enough.
- You’re just starting out and not strong enough to maintain proper form, or have trouble getting up.
How to fix things:
- Keep the back straight. A straight line from your ears to your butt. Keep that head in a neutral position.
- Make sure your knees go out to the toes but not beyond.
- Go down until at least your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Feet should be slightly wider than shoulder width and pointed outward.
- Writer Ivan Dimitrijevic on Lifehack.org suggests imagining a coin between your feet. Put your arms together and right in front of your stomach. Keeping the arms straight, squat with your knees and hips and “touch” the coin. This should help keep your back straight and knees properly pushed outward.
- If you’re having trouble going low enough and getting back up, do the squat using a chair. Squat to sit on the chair, then stand up.
- Finally, if you are still having problems keeping proper form, do some extra core exercises such as planks, leg raises, and sit-ups to strengthen your core.
Lunges are great for your glutes and quads. But some common errors are:
- The knee collapses inward (toward the midline of the body).
- Your torso bends forward.
- You shift weight to the ball of the forward foot.
Do the lunge wrong can cause injury in the long run, plus you’ll look like Monty Python’s Minister of Silly Walks.
How to fix things:
- Keep a straight back. A straight line from ears to butt.
- It is helpful to stretch your hip flexors (inner hip muscles, the Psoas major, and the Iliacus muscle), quads, hamstrings, and glutes regularly, and before you start your lunges.
- Step out, then lower yourself to the ground until the back leg’s knee lightly touches the ground. Your front thigh should be parallel to the floor and your shin at a 90-degree angle to the floor.
- Like the squat, the forward knee should not extend over the toes.
- Watch the forward knee and keep it straight, not tracking inward.
It is always good to have someone knowledgeable, like a certified personal trainer, show you proper form when beginning. Otherwise, you can look online (though there is a huge amount of misinformation out there) or better yet in books and videos from reputable authors.
Use these tips as a starting point to improve your training, stop doing exercises incorrectly, and not get hurt.
A video for Visual Purposes: https://dailym.ai/2ua2OQa