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Exercise Abuse: Busting bad form in the gym

When it comes to working out, getting to the gym is half the battle. The other half is actually exercising, and doing it correctly. We’ve all seen those people in the gym cranking out a bunch of reps, but their form is all wrong! While I give anyone credit for just making an attempt to be more active and get in shape, working out without proper form is a great way to waste time and potentially hurt yourself.

The risk here isn’t just looking foolish in front of a bunch of muscle heads, either. Performing an exercise improperly can put added stress on joints and lead to pain or injury. It can also prevent you from seeing the results of all your hours in the gym.

When you’re just starting out, you shouldn’t expect to know how to do every move perfectly.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re new to the gym, it is a good idea to seek out a trainer or fitness attendant who can guide you through proper form. If you aren’t comfortable doing that, look up the exercises online and watch video demonstrations. Once you’ve developed an understanding of basic movement patterns, you can move on to more advanced exercises with less risk of hurting yourself. 

Surprisingly, some of the most basic exercises are completed incorrectly most often. Here are five fundamental moves I frequently see done wrong, and how to fix them. 

Pushup: Wrong Elbows pointing straight out, fingers pointing in, sagging hips or butt in the air.

Right Hands directly beneath the shoulders fingers pointing forwards, elbows come back at an angle, not straight out. Abs tight, back flat, weight towards the hands, butt down.

Crunch: Wrong Squeezing elbows by your head, using your hands to pull on your neck, curling your chin to your chest.

Right Keep elbows wide on either side of the ears, lightly cup hands beside your ears and keep your chin off the chest and eyes on the ceiling.

Lunge: Wrong Not taking a large enough step so the knee juts out past the toe, heel off the ground with weight on the knee and ball of the foot, bending forward at the waist.

Right Head, shoulders and hips stay in one straight line with abs engaged. Knee lines up just over the ankle, and heel stays in contact with the ground.

Triceps extension : Wrong Elbows far away from ears, taking the weight forward in front of your face.

Right Elbows hugging the ears, weight extends straight up toward the ceiling.