Anyone, who is looking to make a positive change in his life and has decided to ditch couch for treadmill, soda for protein shake and fries for protein bars has my immense respect. I know how difficult it is to resist the temptation of lying on the couch and binge watching TV series with favorite take-out food lying across the table. We all have been there. And, we all know how much willpower and determination it requires to haul your butt to the gym.
Hitting the gym regularly, eating right and giving your body adequate rest has several other benefits, other than just building a stunning physique. It is about steering your life in a positive direction and developing right mentality. However, there are a lot of things you have to do in the right way, if you are to get best results. And, exercise in one of them.
Doing an exercise right will ensure that your muscles would put optimum work. Whereas, if the form is wrong, it might lead to an inevitable injury. Most of the times, people are too shy or arrogant to ask for advice and often end up doing the basics of the exercise wrong. To help you get the very basics right and get the best possible results, we have compiled the list of most popular exercises that you guys might be doing wrong.
Squats are arguably one of the best exercises. When done right, it can hit several muscle groups simultaneously. Along with hitting the major lower body muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves, it also brings the core muscles into action. Doing squats also engages muscles of your lower back. Squat is one of the few exercises that have the ability to replicate the effect of full body workout.
The most common mistakes people make while doing squats are as such
- People usually go quarter or half the way down than the usual 90 degree knee bend.
- Knees going too far forward.
- Rounding your back.
- Going up on the toes.
- And, looking way up.
These mistakes can have short term as well as long term ramifications. Going quarter or half the way, means that you won’t put necessary stress on the muscles. While, rounding your back and knees, going way ahead could lead to a serious back and knee injury respectively. To ensure that you avoid these mistakes and maximize your muscle growth, you should be adopting the right squat form.
For the proper squat form, your stance should be slightly wider-than-shoulder-width, the toes pointed out at or close to 45°, the chest up, and your shoulders should be pulled back. While doing the barbell squat, use a high bar position in the rack and if you are a beginner, then it is advisable that you should go a bit lower than the customary 90 degree knee bend. Always make sure to keep your back straight, pull back your shoulders and rest the bar firmly on the trapezius and back delts. You should never rest it on the neck. If you are wearing a belt, then make sure it is tight enough.
Now grab the bar firmly, keep your elbows down and close to the body. Take a deep breath in, hold it and tighten your core as hard as possible. Go down, until the crease of your hips is in line with bend of the knees. On reaching this position, start pushing with your legs and then push the hips forward as you go up. Avoid looking up or in the mirror, instead focus on getting the movement right.
Lunges is another great multi-joint exercise that strengthens muscles supporting your hips, knees and ankles. The lunges are considered to be the best lower body exercise for shaping up glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps. It goes without saying that the form should be absolutely right, otherwise you run the risk of injuring your knees or lower back.
It is often seen that people make following mistakes, while doing lunges –
- Upper body leaning forward.
- Using additional momentum to lift the body up.
- Not adopting wide enough stance.
- Going further down even when the necessary 90 degree knee bend is achieved.
- Knee over the toe.
These mistakes could be possibly caused by the bad form, which we will discuss shortly. Or, it could be due to the fact that it is hard to maintain balance, while doing lunges. To ensure that you get balance right while doing lunges, stretch your hip flexors, hamstrings, quads and glutes regularly. Also, using aides such as chair in the initial stages could prove to be beneficial.
As it is usually difficult to maintain balance with a barbell, so instead start with dumbbells and move to barbell once you have mastered the form. Stand with your torso upright and two dumbbells in your hands by your sides. Now, step forward with your right leg, your right foot should be around two feet from the one that is stationary. Inhale, as you go down. On reaching low enough to achieve the customary 90 degree knee bend, using mainly the heel of your foot, push up and go back to the starting position. Exhale, as you start your upward movement.
Pushup is one of the most versatile and useful exercises. The best thing about push-up is that you can do it virtually anywhere. Just drop on the floor and keep going until your muscles start feeling wobbly. Also, it can be done using several variations such as you can go for wider ones to hit your chest muscles, closer ones for triceps, with your fist and feel like martial artist and can do the superstar clapping push-ups as well. However, in this article, we will focus solely on the basic form with hands placed slightly outside the shoulder-width and feet on the ground.
And, here are the most common mistakes people make, while doing push-ups.
- Elbows flaring too far out, almost perpendicular to the body.
- Going only halfway down.
- Instead of holding the body in one straight line, bending the hips up and down.
- Bending the head or upper back in such a way that forehead touches the ground first.
Doing pushup with a wrong form, has several wide ranging complications including making you look ridiculous. Also, if you aren’t doing pushup in the right way, then your muscles won’t benefit from them and you run the risk of suffering from muscular injuries.
After, you get down on the floor or ground, set your hands at the distance that is slightly more than your shoulder width. Now depending on your strength, your hands should be angled in the way with which you are most comfortable. You can turn your hands slightly inwards, if you feel stress on your wrists. Then, there is a possibility of pushing up on your knuckles. Again, your feet should be set up in the way that feels right and most comfortable. Depending on your preference, you can keep them at shoulder width or closer together. Generally, the wider stance gives you more stability.
Now, from your head to the heels, hold the body in a straight line. Make sure your butt isn’t sticking up in the air or bending inwards. To make it easier, clench your butt and tighten your core. Look slightly ahead of you, not straight down. Steadily lower yourself until your elbows are at a 90 degree angle. Once you reach the lowest possible position, pause slightly and then explode back until you are in the starting position. Do make sure that with every repetition your elbows aren’t flying way out.
Dips are an effective push exercise that helps you develop strong and well defined triceps. This exercise also works your lower pectorals, back and forearms and to some extent even engages your core muscles as well. As your whole body weight is pulled up by your triceps muscles, so sometimes a small mistake in the form can lead to serious injury. Also, if you experience pain sternum in joint even with the right form, then you should avoid this exercise.
Incidentally, this is one of those exercises which people often tend to get wrong. The one of the most common reason behind adopting the wrong form is that people tend to rush in this exercise. The most common mistakes made while doing dips are listed below –
- Not going low enough to get the 90 degree elbow bend
- Going too low.
- Not going all the way up until the arms are fully extended.
- Flaring the elbows out.
- Going too fast.
The dip is one of the simplest exercises, but still you have to do it with right form to reap its benefits. The first thing to consider before doing the dips is whether you are strong enough to control your movement and can you do the necessary repetitions. You are? Okay then.
First of all, put your thumbs around the bar and squeeze hard. The more force you apply to the bar, the stronger you will get. Now, don’t look down or straight up. Try to look at the point just ahead of you. Lock your elbows, take a deep breath in and hold it. Don’t forget to cross your legs, letting your legs hang down could prove to be bit inconvenient and uncomfortable. Now, lower yourself, don’t let your shoulders roll forward in the process. Keep your chest and shoulder pulled back, it will be easier on your shoulders. Go down, until your shoulders form a right angle with your elbows. Once you reach there, then drive out of the bottom, until your arms are completely extended and your elbows are locked. Breathe at the top of the movement, not during the reps.
Pull-ups or chin-ups
Pull-up is another simple, yet highly effective exercise that can do wonders to your physique. The pull-up is a compound exercise that targets large number of muscles in your back, shoulders, and arms at the same time. And, you can change your grip such as wide grip, narrow grip or mix grip to hit different groups of muscles.
The most common obstacle in doing this exercise wrong is not a lack of understanding or complex mechanism, it is the ego. In a bid to do more than they are capable of doing, most end up completely messing the right form. These are the things, people often do to do more pull-ups –
- Swinging body to gain leverage.
- Not completing full range of motions, not going lower enough or higher enough
- Not bracing your core and legs, which leads to body swinging around.
- Letting the elbows flare.
The beginners should go for the middle grip to get the hang of this exercise. Once, you have got used to the range of movements and are strong enough, then you can opt for other variations and styles. And, if you feel that you aren’t strong enough to do the normal grip pull-ups as well, then, you need to start off doing cable pull downs on the lat machine until you can develop the strength to move your own bodyweight. Another option is to jump into the pull up position and hold as long as possible and then, slowly lower yourself.
Grab the pull up bar with the palms facing forward. Your hands should be at the distance equal to your shoulder width, stick your chest out, and bring your torso back, thus creating a curvature at your lower back. Now, pull your torso up, until your chest is touching the bar. You should also draw the shoulders and the upper arms down and back. Exhale, as you complete this part of the movement.
To do pull-ups more efficiently, concentrate on squeezing the back muscles once you reach the top of the movement. Pause for a second in the contracted position, start to inhale and start bringing your torso, slowly to the starting position. In this position, your arms would be completely extended and your lats would be completely stretched.