Whether you are new in the workout world or you have been working out regularly for years, you may have heard a thing or two about the importance of using proper form. It can be frustrating to try to figure out the proper form for different workouts and constantly hearing that you are doing it wrong, or there is a new way to do a crunch that is more effective. We get it.
While it may be annoying trying to worry about proper form and the ever-changing opinion of what proper form is, it is important to keep your form in mind while performing different workouts. Using proper form is a great way to avoid injury and see the best results.
At BodyPlex Fitness, our gym is full of the equipment, classes, and knowledgeable trainers that will help you reach your fitness goals and learn proper workout form. In this blog, we are going to look at some common workouts, form mistakes, and how to fix your form during your workouts.
Let’s start with cardio. When most people think about workout forms, they likely picture weightlifting form, bodyweight exercises, and weight machine workouts. But your form matters while doing cardio as well. When you are using a machine, such as a stair climber, treadmill, elliptical, or bike, make sure you don’t slouch. It can be easy to hunch over, especially as you get tired, but this can cause back and neck pain and nor provide the results you want. Keep your back straight, staring straight ahead, and keep your core tight. Once you are too tired to keep this posture, you should probably stop your cardio workout.
When running, you should also be sure not to land on your heels. An article from Muscle & Fitness mentions that this can cause shin splints, knee pain, ankle injury, and you will likely get tired faster than usual. Instead, be sure to land on the balls of your feet and attempt to run as quietly as possible. This will help your body absorb the shock and help keep you from getting injured.
While improper crunch form may not cause severe injury, it can make it harder to see the results you want. To perform a proper crunch you will lay flat on your back with your knees bend and feet on the floor with your heels being only a few inches from your bottom. Your hands should be brought to your temples with your palms up. Be sure to keep your elbows out, away from your body at about 30 to 45 degrees. Crunch up while exhaling to bring your shoulder blades off the ground and tighten your ab muscles. Hold at the top of your crunch for a second or two before slowly lowering yourself back down. Keep your motions small and remember that a crunch is different than a sit up. You will only be bringing your shoulder blades off of the ground. Make sure to tighten your abs as you do this workout.
The Muscle & Fitness article also mentions a few common mistakes that are often made when doing bench press. One of these improper form mistakes is pushing your elbows out. When you point them out, you can put stress on your shoulder and could injure yourself. Try to keep your elbows close to your ribcage to help keep pressure off of your shoulders and helps strengthen your chest and triceps.
The second common mistake is not using your legs when you bench press. If you struggle and find yourself flailing your legs during a bench press, you do not have proper form. Be sure to plant your feet on the ground firmly before getting started and keep them there, as well as keep your butt on the bench. This will help tighten your lower-body and increase your stability and strength.
Another mistake in your bench press form is arching your back as you push overhead. This may be to mimic an incline bench press or be due to a lack of shoulder mobility. This can cause serious injury, as it puts dangerous stress on the joins in your spine. The Muscle & Fitness article suggests squeezing your glutes and core as you push overhead. This will help to stabilize the lower back, allowing you to complete the bench press with proper form and reduce your risk of injury.
During different workouts, you need to make sure you maintain proper neck positioning. If you don’t you could cause injury and strain your cervical spine. If you are doing a squat, be sure not to look up. During a deadlift, don’t stare straight ahead. Even dropping your head toward the floor during a pushup is harmful. Your neck should stay aligned with your spine. The Muscle & Fitness article suggests pointing your chin down slightly, giving yourself a double-chin. This will help keep your neck in the proper position and save you from injury! An article from Shape says that another way to help ensure you maintain good neck posture is to pretend you have an apple between your chin and chest. If you feel the need to look up during a workout, be sure you only look up with your eyes and not your chin!
How hard can a plank be? All you have to do is hold yourself up on your elbows and feet, right? Well, not exactly. During a plank, you have the opportunity to injure your back. During a plank, you want to keep your core tight, your back straight, and your neck in proper position. Your elbows should be directly underneath your shoulders, bent 90 degrees, with your forearms resting on the ground. Your feet should be together with only your toes touching the floor.
There are a few common mistakes when doing a plank. The first is arching your back. An article from Daily Burn discusses how to fix this issues, as well as other common issues. To avoid an arched back, be sure to keep your shoulders wide and your palms wide as well. Keeping your shoulders broad will help keep weight off of your upper body and help engage your core while will help you from arching. Most arching occurs when your core isn’t engaged and your arms tire out quickly.
Dropping your hips is the second common mistake. When your arms and abs become tired, your hips are likely to dip. This will not only take the challenge away from your core muscles, but it will also put strain on your lower back. To fix this, tuck your butt in a bit and squeeze your glutes. Walking your feet out a bit can also help give you a more solid base.
The final common mistake is looking straight ahead or up. As mentioned above, this will ruin the proper neck alignment and put strain on your neck, which will cause problems with the rest of your plank form. To avoid neck strain, keep your eyes on the floor by your hands.
Keeping proper form during your workouts can help you not only avoid injury, but also help you get more of your workouts. One workout that we did not add to this list, but is constantly talked about when it comes to proper form is the squat. Squats are one workout that involves a lot of form and knowledge to perform correctly. We will cover the squat in a future blog so that we can give you all the information you need!
At BodyPlex Fitness, we can help make sure you are using proper form and getting the most out of your workouts. Sign up for a membership or start your free trial today! Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about our gym or different workouts.