The human body is smart: it will always take the path of least resistance to get things done. This is all too clear for fitness professionals when training clients – both beginners and veterans – who show the wrong form of basic exercises.
For example, if you are trying to crouch but you are weak, your body will recruit muscles from the lower back to compensate. Why is it bad? Because you can more easily damage the muscles that are trying to compensate for weaker muscles. Even if you damage your skirt, you will not get the most out of an exercise when you are in bad shape.
Then the ongoingmakes it difficult or impossible to see a personal trainer or participate in group fitness courses with professional instruction. I identified some of the most common fitness mistakes I see in four basic exercises: squat, deadlift, push-up and shoulder press. In this guide, I cover common mistakes in detail and explain exactly what you need to do to fix them.
Everyone should master the heads. Squats are one of the most basic,known to man, but most of us have lost our ability to access the squat position. This happens when we spend most of our time sitting still and losing mobility in the hips, ankles and spine.
For some people, anatomical differences play a role in how difficult it is to drop into a squat (eg placement of the hip joint and socket joint), but even those with the most squat-proof bone structure can learn to access deep, comfortable squats.
Error 1: Torso collapses
Fix it: Improve hip, ankle and spine mobility, as well as core strength.
As a personal trainer, the front incline is easily the most common knee error I see. This occurs when a combination of inflexible joints and weak core muscles prevents you from keeping yourself upright in a deep squat. Your hips and ankles do not allow a sufficiently large range of motion, while your core (abdominal hair and back muscles) can not support the spine. Weak gluteal muscles can also make you lean forward.
To fix a forward relief, you need to improve the mobility of the hips, ankles and spine and increase your core strength. Here are some of the following videos to help you get started:
Error 2: The heels come from the ground
Fix it: Improve mobility in the ankle and hip.
If you can not keep your feet flat on the ground during a squat, it is another common sign of limited mobility, especially in the ankles. Hip mobility and limitations of spinal mobility can also help lift your heels off the ground.
To fix this common squat mistake, spend a lot of time on your ankle mobility, but do not neglect your other joints. When it comes to squatting, optimal mobility in all joints (including your upper body) plus great core strength leads to flawless shape.
Here are more ankle exercises for people who are struggling to keep their heels on the ground during squats:
While push-ups do not necessarily mimic daily actions, they do develop strength in your core, chest, back and shoulders. Push-ups teach you to stabilize your core muscles to protect your spine and how to keep your body in line, which can encourage better posture.
Mistake 1: elbows flare out
Fix it: Strengthen the triceps and muscles surrounding the scapulae.
When doing a push-up, the elbows should point backwards or just slightly outwards (up to a 45-degree angle with the torso). Blown-out elbows, especially if they flare at a 90-degree angle, indicate weak triceps and weak upper back muscles, the latter of which contribute to rounded shoulders. Rounded shoulders knock the spine out of its natural adjustment and can eventually lead to pain and immobility.
To avoid flared elbows, strengthen your triceps (the back of your upper arms) and the muscles that surround your shoulders (shoulder blades). The exercises in the following videos should help.
Error 2: The core collapses, back arches
Fix it: Strengthen your core.
If at any time during a push-up the back arches against the ground, you need to work on your core strength. When your spine hype extends into the push-up position (top or bottom), it means that your core cannot support your spine.
If you can not perform standard push-ups without bending your back, start with wall push-ups and move on to knee push-ups and then elevated push-ups. It’s no shame to change a movement – it’s the smart way to start, so you do not develop bad habits or get hurt.
And try these core strengthening exercises that can improve your push-up shape:
Deadlifts come within a close second for “most functional movement.” Think about how often you bend over to pick things up – you actually do a deadlift every time. Mastering the deadlift teaches you how to safely pick up heavy objects from the ground while protecting your back.
Error 1: Spine in starting position
Fix it: Practice deadlift techniques, improve hip mobility.
All that is required is some technical practice to correct a rounded spine in the starting position of the take-off lift. Many beginners do not have the body awareness required to realize that the back is not flat. However, this mistake sometimes occurs due to lack of hip mobility. If you can not “sit” low enough in the starting position, you naturally compensate by rounding your back to reach the weights.
Practice your deadlift technique and improve your hip mobility with these training demos:
Error 2: Back arches at the end of the rope
Fix it: Practice core alignment exercises.
Like the first deadlift, it is often a product of poor body awareness to bend the back in the end position. Beginners may not realize that they are actually going too far and end up in this hyperextended position. When you are done with a deadlift, the spine should remain in a neutral position (not arched and not rounded).
You can fix this error by practicing kernel alignment. When your core is in line, it means that the back, lower back, abdomen, hip flexors and glutes create a solid, strong cylinder around the spine. Stand up and follow these clues to achieve core alignment:
- Take a deep breath
- Pull your shoulders back and down
- Tuck in the tailbone slightly (get rid of future incline)
- Squeeze your glutes
- Pull your stomach button in the spine
- Activate your ab muscles
Do you need a visual? Check out this video demonstration with several different clues that all explain how to engage your core.
Another very functional movement, the shoulder press is important for daily activities, such as placing a heavy box on a shelf. This movement can develop strength and stability in your upper body and core – if you do it right.
Mistake 1: The arms do not extend completely over the head
Fix it: Improve mobility in the shoulders and back.
Sometimes, not completely extending your arms over your head on a shoulder press happens simply because the person is not aware that they are not fully extending. This can be fixed with some exercise and body awareness.
However, some people are unable to fully extend their arms due to limited shoulder mobility. It can develop after an injury or happen just because you do not move your shoulders enough (just as hips can become hard when you sit all day). Your middle and upper back (chest) can also become tight and rounded due to poor posture – if you feel a pinch in your back when trying to raise your hands high up, you know you need to work on your T spine.
Try the exercises of the shoulder movement in these videos:
Error 2: Back arches
Fix it: Strengthen your core
Are you starting to notice the trend that many common training errors happen due to weak core muscles? When you have weak core muscles, your body will compensate by pushing your hips forward and lifting the tailbone (front tilt), as well as by raising your spine (arch) to stabilize the weight moving above your head.
Shoulder presses should not injure the back. This mistake is so common that many people think it’s normal to finish a set of shoulder presses that feel like their spine has been compressed – it’s not normal. This means that you have to work with your nuclear power.
For shoulder presses specifically, you need to learn how to tuck in the tailbone, press your glutes and pull the navel into the spine. This creates an extremely strong, stable cylinder that protects your spine. You will not look cute while doing this, but you will become stronger and stay free from injuries.
These basic reinforcement films can help you improve your shoulder press:
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified healthcare provider if you have questions about a medical condition or health goal.