4 Basic Exercises People Do All Wrong + How To Correct Your Form

Written by Tiffany Ayuda

When you’re taking a fitness class, working out is like performing on a stage. It’s easy to get caught up with the quick movements and rhythm of the music, but it's easy to let good form fall by the wayside. Your form provides the foundation for a great workout and the building blocks for a stronger, more toned body. Performing every exercise by the book helps to prevent injury and engages the right muscles, so you get the most out of your sweat session.

Yet there are few standard moves people usually get all wrong. I consulted Joe Buffa, a fitness trainer at KORE, a HIIT-focused studio located in New York City, for tips on how to perfect these popular exercises. Make sure you follow his advice the next time you try one of these exercises:

1. Push-Up

The issue: "People forget to keep their core tight. Everyone will struggle with upper-body strength at some point during the exercise, but it’s when people release their abdominals that their form starts to crumble. You will see the hips dropping too soon or rising before they press up from the floor,” Buffa says.

Perfect your form:

1. Get into high plank position and push your upper body up until your arms are 90 degrees to the floor. Make sure your shoulders are directly over your wrist, and your torso is parallel to the floor. Your back should be flat and your core muscles engaged. Keep your tailbone high and resist moving it toward the floor. Be sure to look straight down at the floor.

2. Slowly lower your body toward the floor. Remember to keep your back flat and your body in a straight line throughout the entire exercise. Don’t let your butt stick out at any point. As you lower your body, keep your elbows tucked close to your body as you move your shoulder blades back and down; refrain from flaring your arms and forming a “T.”

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2. Squat

The issue: Some people lean too far forward or don't get low enough.

Perfect your form:

1. Stand with your feet a little more than hip-width apart. As you lower down, bend your knees but keep them over the ankles and toes. Transfer the weight of the body back toward your heels.

2. As your butt starts to stick out, keep your shoulders upright but relaxed and away from your ears and keep your back straight.

3. Engaging your core, shoot back up to your standing position without moving your feet.

3. Biceps Curl

The issue: People use their forearm strength and end up swinging the dumbbells up. Buffa suggests keeping your elbows under your shoulders as you lift and lower the weight.

Perfect your form:

1. Stand up straight with your feet hip-distance apart and your knees slightly bent. Place your arms at your sides with your palms facing up as you hold onto the dumbbell. Slowly curl your hands up to your shoulders, keeping your elbows close to your body and your abs and glutes engaged. Note that any swinging indicates that you’re using momentum instead of your biceps to lift the weight.

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4. Plyo Lunges

The issue: What makes this exercise a little complicated is that the jump needs to count as one whole movement. From what Buffa sees in his classes, people don’t have the core strength to handle the constant jumping and their form goes out the window.

Perfect your form:

1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and place your hands on your hips. Keep your abdominal muscles tight as you move your body forward and place your right foot in front of you and your left foot behind you. Lower yourself to the ground until your left knee is bent without touching the ground. Remember to keep your back straight.

2. Jump up and switch your legs so that your left foot is now in front of you while your right foot is behind you. Be sure to land with both of your knees bent and put equal weight on your front foot and the ball of your back foot.

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