Anyone who has been to a gym, watched “The Biggest Loser” or flipped past one of those late night/early morning fitness d5 infomercials has probably heard some mention of having “good form” while exercising.
But while everybody wants good form, not everybody has it, especially not when they first begin exercising.
Kendra Cox, a personal trainer and nutrition specialist at the John P. Thayer YMCA, stressed the importance of good form in preventing injury.
“It’s very important because you can hurt yourself if you don’t have correct form, whether that is pulling a muscle, tearing ligaments,” she said. “And these injuries might be short-term, but they can definitely be long-term as well. ”
If you’re not using proper techniques, you’re also not getting the most out of your workout.
“If you’re not performing the exercise correctly, you’re not going to see the benefits that you should be getting,” said Cox.
Cox sat down with the Ledger-Enquirer to discuss some exercises that are commonly executed incorrectly and how to fix them.
1. Bicep curl
What we do wrong: “A lot of people have trouble with this exercise because when they are curling, whether it’s dumbbells or barbell, their shoulders are slouched forward. When they do curl up, they bring their elbows up, and they’re using more of their shoulders to lift the actual weight.”
How to fix it: “To correct this, they would need to keep their shoulders back, keep their elbows back, so when you curl the bar up, you’re using more of your biceps and you’re really concentrating on that muscle group. Definitely standing in front of a mirror would be best.”
2. Any form of tricep press
What we do wrong: “A lot of times when the weight is too heavy, ...the elbows tend to creep out, because that helps get momentum and force over that weight.”
How to fix it: “Keep your elbows in tight to your rib cage and press down. A mirror would be great, just to watch. Obviously you don’t have to have a mirror -- if you can feel that your elbows are in tight, you’re doing it right.”
3. Any shoulder exercise, particularly shoulder press, lateral raise or front raise
What we do wrong: Use momentum to lift the weight instead of using the shoulder muscles.
How to fix it: “You always want to keep your core in tight, and that’s with every exercise ... you want to pull your bellybutton to your spine. The abdominals that are below your bellybutton, you want to clench them tight, really contract them as much as you can. It’s a lot different from just sucking in to try and feel skinny. ... If that is not enough to keep your momentum from lifting the weight, then stand against a wall, pressing your back against the wall to lift the weight and you can tell if your back comes off the wall, then your form isn’t correct.”
4. Lunges and squats
What we do wrong: We allow our knees to extend past our toes instead of keeping them at a 90-degree angle above the toes. “You don’t want that because you could end up having knee problems.”
How to fix it: “When you lunge forward, you need to take a wide enough stride to make sure that front toe is in front of your front knee.” While lunging, you should be able to look down and see your toe to make sure your knee is in the right spot.
5. Push ups
What we do wrong: “With push ups I find that people have the hardest time keeping their hips low. When they’re doing push ups, they like to keep their hips up and just (lower their upper body) or they like to do the worm.”
How to fix it: “What is best is if you can have a buddy with you, a partner, saying, ‘Nope, you need to keep your hips lower,’ do it that way or if you have a mirror low enough to the floor to really watch yourself, that would really help out.”
Katie McCarthy, 706-571-8515