The Most Common Workout Moves You're Doing Wrong

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It's one thing to make it to the gym or a workout class. But it's another thing to do the whole fitness routine thing the right way—and by that we mean doing the moves correctly and having good form. See, if you're working out but are doing the exercises incorrectly, you're not doing your body any favors. The number one problem with that is you could hurt yourself. Secondly, you might not even see the results you're expecting if you're not focusing on the correct muscle.

To help us improve our exercise form and make sure all that hard work isn't all for nothing, we reached out to Whitney Johns, a certified personal trainer and Plankk Studio instructor. Johns said that some of the most common injuries people experience due to improper form include ones located in the back and neck, shoulder injuries, knee and leg injuries, wrist sprain or dislocation, and groin pulls. If the prospect of injury has left you just a tad (or really) worried, Johns shared with us the most common moves she sees people doing wrong and how to do them correctly.

Use these tips to improve your workout, but take extra caution if you have a pre-existing injury. "When dealing with injuries, be sure to avoid any movements that aggravate it. When it comes to injuries that are on the mend, bear in mind that warming up properly will help avoid further damage. The warm-up must match the training you're about to do in order to get blood flowing to the right muscles and to be effective in injury prevention," Johns says.

Squats

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Mistake: If your knees drive inward or come forward past your toes, then you need a squat form revamp. Moving this way can cause injury to your knee and doesn’t allow for proper engagement, form, or gains.

Try instead: Activate your feet, sit deep into the hips, knees out, butt out.

Push-ups

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Mistake: Raising your hips too high or arching your back in this position will not allow for the proper engagement and can cause muscle imbalances.

Try instead: Keep your shoulders, hips, and ankles in one straight line. Pull your navel in tight to your spine as you lower.

Kettlebell Swing

Mistake: Using your shoulders and arms to swing the kettlebell up can put pressure on your shoulders and lower back.

Try instead: The swing should be propelled only by using the momentum from the explosion in your hips. Keep your shoulders back and hinge deep in the hips.

Stairmaster or Treadmill

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Mistake: Many people lean their body weight forward onto the machine, which gives you less of a workout and cheats you out of the max core/cardio work involved.

Try instead: Roll your shoulders back, stand tall and engage your core. Go hands-free whenever possible.

Deadlift

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Mistake: Any rounding of your back will put a ton of unwanted pressure on your spine.

Try Instead: Keep your spine in neutral, hinging deep in the hips, engage your core, and pull while driving your hips forward.

Bench Press

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Mistake: Placing your hands too far apart puts stress on your shoulder and rotator cuff.

Try instead: Hands should be directly above your shoulders and elbows tucked in tighter to your rib cage, not sticking out wide.

Bicep Curls

Mistake: Using a swinging motion in this movement to curl the weight.

Try instead: Keep your spine in neutral, retract your shoulder blades, and strongly engage your core. Keep your elbows in tight to your ribs.

Side Bends with Dumbbells

Mistake: If your obliques aren’t strong enough, you compensate and can hyperextend your back.

Try instead: Try side-plank variations. It’s far better to focus on isolating and strengthening these muscles with just your body weight for resistance.

Overhead Press

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Mistake: Arching your back in order to get momentum, which can put pressure on your lower back and risk injury.

Try instead: Tighten your abs to control your posture and engage your leg and arm muscles. Don’t let your rib cage jut out, and keep a neutral spine.

Hanging Leg Raises

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Mistake: Many people end up swinging back and forth, which cheats you out of the full core engagement.

Try instead: Start with using a Roman Chair to perform this movement to build up your strength in this exercise before attempting to do it with just the overhead bars.

Next up: Personal Trainers Cringe Every Time You Do These 7 Things at the Gym