Five simple and essential exercises we often get wrong

No matter if you’re an occasional gym-goer or a committed Crossfitter, there are a few moves everyone should be able to do with ease. They serve as a foundation, and chances are, you’re already doing a version of them every day without even knowing. And even though you’ve been doing them since you were a kid, there’s still a right and wrong way

We here at LikeAble believe that if you want to look great, you need to learn how to exercise properly. Here, we’ll show you how five exercises can be performed both correctly and correctly.

Common mistake no.1: You’re barely bending your arms

If you’re not able to bend your elbows much, and therefore can’t really lower your chest to the ground, this indicates a lack of strength in your major arm muscles, shoulder girdle, and chest.

Common mistake no.2: Your hips sag

This generally indicates a lack of core strength or that you’re not engaging your core. To activate these muscles, think about bracing your core (contracting the muscles as if you were about to take a punch), and pulling your belly button in toward your spine. If your lower back arches or sags, this could also mean you’re not engaging your glutes.

The right way to do it

Start in a high plank position, with wrists under shoulders, back flat, and core engaged. Bend your arms and drop your chest toward the floor. Focus on getting your arms to bend to 90 degrees, so your chest is just a few inches off the ground, before you push back up.

Common mistake no.1: Your knees are too far forward and hips are not that far back

Trouble hinging your hips back or lowering your butt to the ground indicates tightness in the lower part of your body. It could mean your hip extensors or hamstrings are tight, and you need to work on hip flexibility.

Common mistake no.2: Your knees buckle in as you lower or stand

If your knees are turning in to the midline of your body, it generally means you need to strengthen your gluteal muscles and hamstrings.

The right way to do it

Start with feet parallel and hip-width apart. Make sure you’re standing with a neutral spine, hips over knees, knees over ankles. Extend both arms in front of you for balance. Brace your core and send hips back first, then slowly bend your knees to lower into a squat. Maintain a neutral spine throughout.

Dumbbell Overhead Press
Common mistake no.1: Your arms come forward instead of staying directly overhead

You may not have a normal range of motion in your shoulders, and your shoulder girdle and back muscles may not be working hard enough to keep your arms in line. With proper form, your biceps should be in line with your ears.

Common mistake no.2: You arch your lower back excessively as you raise the weights

Typically, this means you have a lack of core stability and core strength, or that your hip flexors (the muscles on the front of your pelvis) are tight and not allowing you to keep your hips directly over your knees.

The right way to do it

Hold one dumbbell in each hand, with wrists turned in to face each other and dumbbells level with your shoulders. Keep knees soft and core engaged. Press weights up overhead, focusing on fully extending your arms, before lowering the weights with control to your shoulders. For this assessment, pick a weight with which you can perform at least 8 to 12 reps.

Forearm Plank
Common mistake no.1: You hike your hips

Whether your hips sag or you hike them, the issue is basically the same: a lack of core strength.

Common mistake no.2: Your shoulders are not directly over your elbows

Leaning back, so that your elbows are more forward, might feel easier, but it’s actually putting excessive strain on your shoulders. It also means you’re not engaging the muscles that surround your shoulder blades (i.e. not ’packing’ them), and the muscles of your shoulder girdle may be weak.

The right way to do it

From a facedown position, use your forearms and toes to lift your entire body off the ground. Engage your core, and keep elbows directly under your shoulders and forearms and hands parallel. Maintain a neutral neck position, keeping your back flat and ankles flexed at 90-degree angles.

Forward Lunge
Common mistake no.1: You don’t take a big enough step

When you don’t step far enough forward, you may put extra weight on your toes, which means excessive pressure on your knees and hips — it’s also harder to balance like this. Work on strengthening your glutes, hip flexors (so you can bend deeper), and hamstrings (so you can take some of the pressure off the front of your legs).

Common mistake no.2: You lean too far forward with your chest

Though it is acceptable for your chest to come forward slightly (the same type of motion as when you’re walking or climbing stairs), leaning too far forward can be an indication of weak glutes and core, or an over-emphasis on the quads. Remember to engage your glutes and hamstrings as you perform the movement.

The right way to do it

Stand with feet hip-width apart and step forward with your right leg. Lower into a lunge position, so that both the front and back legs are (ideally) bent to 90 degrees. Your upper body should be straight (not leaning forward or back). Hold this position for a moment, then push off the right foot and return to stand. Repeat on the other side.

Source greatist