No matter the type of exercise you engage in, proper form is the most important part. If you don’t have proper form, you won’t see the results you’re expecting, and you’re putting yourself at risk for more injuries. Most people are breaking their form and not even realizing it. Here are five exercises you might be doing wrong, and how to correct your mistakes.
A lunge, or a split squat, is an effective lower-body exercise when done correctly. The common mistake in this exercise is allowing your front knee to track forward over the toe. This mistake can cause injuries and joint pain.
Another common mistake is not letting your back leg bend. By keeping it rigid, you restrict movement and cause hip pain. The back knee should be bent as much as the front knee. To do this move correctly, drop your hips straight down and bend both knees. Keep your front heel planted firmly and make sure it’s in line with your toes, not over it.
The plank is everyone’s favorite, and most hated, core exercise. The two most common form mistakes with a plank is either letting your body sag, or keeping your hips too high off the ground. A proper plank should have your body assume a straight line from your head to your heels. Your weight should balanced on your forearms with your elbows directly underneath your shoulders. Tighten your core and clench your glutes for the best results.
If you’re having a hard time with knowing what proper plank form feels like, have a friend place a long dowel on your back. The dowel should be touching your glutes, upper back, head, and heels at the same time if you’re in the proper form.
The best way to make sure you’re squatting correctly is to watch yourself in a mirror. It’s easy to let your knees fall inward while performing this move, but they should be pointing straight ahead both while lowering into the squat position and rising out of it. Start with your weight on your heels and keep your back straight and your head aligned with your spine throughout the move.
The common issues with a plank are often the same problems people have when doing push-ups. Your body should be in a straight line from head to toe. Make sure your back is neither too high nor too low. Get in correct plank form and place your hands directly under your shoulders. Keep your glutes and core braced while you slowly lower yourself to the ground.
The first step to doing a bicep curl correctly is picking the right weight. You don’t want to use something that’s too heavy, or too light. Really focus on the muscle you’re targeting and try not to use your back when lifting. Bicep curls only require you to move one joint, so concentrate on that joint. Don’t allow your elbows to leave your side and don’t move your hips.
Your pre-workout food should be helping you fuel and giving your body the energy to push through an intense workout. Afterward, you should be nourishing your body that will help it recover and enough protein to encourage muscle growth.
Before you begin working out, you should start eating some healthy carbs and making sure you’re adequately hydrated.
Carbs are what give the body the necessary energy to power through a workout. Not having enough energy before your workout will limit your ability to burn calories. Ideally, you should fuel up two hours before you plan on working out.
Focus on eating healthy carbs like whole-grain cereals with low-fat or skim milk, whole-wheat toast, low-fat or fat-free yogurt, or fruits and vegetables. Avoid saturated fats and even healthy proteins before a workout; they digest slower in your stomach and will take away oxygen from your muscles.
If you’re in a time-crunch and only have ten minutes before your workout to eat, eat an apple or banana, or whatever fruit you have on hand.
Some people believe in the power of exercising on an empty stomach, but that could lead to dizziness, lightheadedness, and nausea. If you prefer the feeling of working out on an empty stomach, try eating something light, like a granola bar, to give your body just enough nutrients to get through.
Even if you think you can skip the pre-workout snack, you need to be eating after a workout. Your body needs replacements for all of the calories it just burned. When you skip the post-gym meal, you’ll end up fatigued and with low blood sugar. Plus, you’re keeping your body from making progress.
There are three important groups you should be focusing on after finishing your workout: fluids, carbohydrates and protein.
First, make sure you’re re-hydrating yourself with plenty of water. You’ll also want to drink some 100 percent juice which can provide you with carbs and potassium.
You just burned a bunch of carbohydrates, so you’ll want to replenish your body’s main source of energy. Focus on complex carbohydrates like quinoa or brown rice and incorporate some healthy proteins like tofu or fish. The most important post-workout food group is protein. Protein is what helps repair and build your muscles. If you’re not trying to gain weight, then keep your post-workout snack to 150 calories, and your post-workout meal under 500.
About Robert J. Winn
Robert J. Winn is a family physician based in Philadelphia, PA. For over fifteen years Dr. Winn has worked to provide care to vulnerable populations that face barriers to healthcare access. As a medical professional, Dr. Winn understands how important fitness is to one’s health. On a personal level, he also understands what it’s like to be overweight, so he is able to empathize with patients who struggle to live healthier lives.
Robert J. Winn’s fitness journey started relatively later in life. Although he helped other people become healthy and stay that way, Dr. Winn had fallen victim to a situation that many busy professionals find themselves in. At age 45 he was overweight and didn’t make time for daily exercise. Toward the end of 2014, Dr. Winn realized that something had to change. He had trouble fitting into the clothes he owned, and activities like walking up a flight of stairs exhausted him. Dr. Winn made the decision to turn his health around by devoting himself to fitness.
One of the most important aspects of being a physician is making sure that patients are taking the necessary steps to remain healthy. However, Dr. Winn was not following his own recommendations. In order to remedy this situation, he joined Unite Fitness, a local fitness studio. The Unite Fitness philosophy of “Heart, Muscle, Mind” resonated with Dr. Winn. With the help of Coach Gavin, the founder of the studio, Dr. Winn was able to shed 50 pounds over the course of six months.
Although Robert J. Winn started his fitness journey by attending a fitness studio and receiving instruction from the staff, he realizes that many people, including the majority of his patients, may not have the resources to purchase a membership or home fitness equipment. It’s important to remember, though, that getting in shape does not have to cost an exorbitant amount of money. In fact, you don’t have to join a gym or purchase anything to get started. Dr. Robert J. Winn recommends that patients begin by walking 30 minutes each day. Also, on the internet, you can find numerous free resources like exercise tips and guides that you can use to workout at home in your living room.
One way that Dr. Winn stayed motivated in the beginning of his fitness journey was by sharing updates on social media. His friends and family saw his progress and encouraged him along the way. Plus, patients were able to witness the transformation take place firsthand. As a result, many patients were inspired to get in shape themselves. Sharing his fitness journey on social media also encouraged Dr. Winn to work harder to lose weight because he didn’t want to let his patients down. He wanted to show them that it was possible for anyone to get in shape and become healthier as long as they are dedicated and work hard.
Being overweight leads to many health issues such as depression, high cholesterol, and diabetes just to name a few. Exercising on a daily basis can prevent or eliminate these types of difficulties. Dr. Robert J. Winn uses his personal fitness journey as an example that patients can relate to. Today he feels stronger, healthier, and happier as a result of his active lifestyle and healthy diet. He continues to encourage his patients to take small fitness steps so that they can live life to the fullest with fewer health issues holding them back.