That’s right – there’s a wrong way to exercise. And I notice this “wrong” way time and time again when I am in the gym training a client or just looking around; which prompted me to write this post! But don’t worry! Once you know how to exercise the right way, you’ll be ready for some great tips that will help you maintain good form and make the most of your work out. I underlined form because those who know me know I’m a stickler for form and one’s safety is top priority.
Ok, onto the good stuff. If you’re like most people, you don’t have a lot of time to exercise, so why do exercises that won’t help you be healthier and happier? So I’ve listed a few exercises of what I’ve seen or you might be doing wrong and how you can enhance your form (there’s that word again) and reap the intended benefits of exercise.
This is a cringer. The lateral or lat pull down behind the head. I know you’ve seen people do it. This exercise is less effective and is done by pulling a weighted bar down behind your head and neck. Unless you have very mobile shoulder joints, you could be damaging the alignment of your spine when you pull the bar down or you could be putting undue strain on your shoulders, which can easily lead to injury.
Safe Alternative: Instead of pulling the bar down behind your head, try leaning back a few degrees and pulling the bar down to your breastbone by pulling your shoulder blades down and together. Contract your abdominal muscles to control your movements.
Raising a weight to your chin with your arm using a very close grip can be dangerous, as this movement can quite easily compress the nerves in your shoulder.
Safe Alternative: Perform this same type of exercise, but lift the weights to the side or front of the body. Better yet, try this exercise while bending forward at the hips and holding the weight below your shoulder and then lifting it to the side of your body. This movement still targets all the muscles of your upper back, while getting the biceps involved as well.
When using a weighted machine to perform leg presses while lying down, it’s easy to bend your knees too deeply as you move the weight. This exercise is designed to work your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. But if you bend too much with your knees, your pelvis can tilt and force the lower back to bear some of the weight, which can lead to serious back troubles if the exercise is repeated regularly.
Safe Alternative: Try doing a seated leg press or, instead of using a machine, try using the resistance of your own body. Squats and lunges can work the same muscle groups with far greater safety.
This was a discussion in one of my diabetes prevention classes. Even if you are doing everything else correctly, did you know that wearing the wrong shoes can counteract everything. Improper footwear can increase the pounding on your joints and lead to conditions like plantar fasciitis or tendinitis.
Safe Alternative: The key is to choose a shoe that fits the exercise you are doing. Shop at a reputable athletic shoe stores so you can talk to knowledgeable salespeople who can help you find the right type of shoe for your activities and foot.
I think too many people these days are using weight belts. Unless you have a medical reason to wear one, you can probably ditch the belt down. Using a weight belt reduces your core muscles’ ability to recruit stabilizer muscles to work and become stronger.
Safe Alternative: Unless you are a bodybuilder, skip the weight belt and concentrate on utilizing your core muscles to build up your strength.
Ok, there are my five no-no’s of exercise. There are more, but this is good start to get you thinking about how you will execute the movement the next time you work out.
If you’ve worked with a personal trainer before, you can probably skip this section, but if your an exercise novice, a personal trainer may help your exercise program get off on the right start. Since I am one J, personal trainers are great at keeping you pumped up about exercise and they are also there to ensure that you maintain the proper form and a good variety of activities while working out. And we keep you accountable.
Personal trainers also provide other benefits that you may find motivational, including:
- Fitness evaluations, which can measure where you are when you first start exercising and continue measuring your progress as you become more fit.
- Personalized exercise programs are a great benefit of having a personal trainer. Because your trainer knows you, he or she can develop a plan that is tailored to your needs so you can reap the greatest benefit from your exercise.
- Supervised exercise sessions are also a big plus when you have a personal trainer. It can be hard to know if you’re doing something right – or wrong – unless someone tells you.
I hope this blog post will prove helpful to you! Let me know ether way! I love feedback so please leave me a comment!