Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Workout Wednesday: Exercises Done Wrong

Momma got to the gym again, hooray! I found myself on the elliptical for 20 minutes, then the treadmill for another 15. Machine-based cardio bores the bejeezus out of me, but makes for a great opportunity to do some people watching. Looking across the gym floor, it's not hard for me to find a person or two (or three) doing Exercise A and/or Exercise B completely wrong. This, as you might imagine, can be quite frustrating for someone who is used to correcting form.
That said, I thought it might be a good idea to craft this week's Workout Wednesday from exercises commonly done wrong. This prevents me from pointing fingers. I don't like pointing fingers.

And I know you don't like getting hurt, so let's get started!

WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: Exercises Done Wrong
Equipment: Hand weights that are heavy enough to challenge your back, chest and shoulders.

1) Squats. Always remember to keep your knees behind your toes. The easiest way to make this happen? Keep your weight in your heels. Many people find this hard to do, which ultimately leads to strained knees. Not strengthened leg muscles.

2) Calf Presses. Feet should always be hip-width apart. When you press up onto your toes, keep your ankles in line with your feet. Don't let them roll out to the side. This takes away from the effectiveness of the exercise and puts stress on your ankles.

3) Bent rows. Find a mirror, you'll need it to make sure that your back is completely straight as you bend over to a 45-degree angle. Take out the hunch, guys! And keep it out as you row up and down.

4) Chest press. Using your hand weights, lie flat on a bench. With your palms facing the floor, press your back into the bench and you press the weights up and down. Don't let your back come off the bench. This is the problem...when you lift your back, you're using muscles other than those found in your chest. And this obviously lessens the effectiveness of the exercise.

5) Bicep curls. The problem here involves the shoulder. No matter the type of bicep curl you're doing, if your shoulder moves forward-backward as you lift, then you're lifting those weights wrong. Keep your shoulder stationary to keep all the work in your bicep.

6) Triceps dips. Move your hips off the bench, but keep them as close to the bench as possible. The further you are away from the bench, the more stress you put on your shoulders.

7) Upright row. In all honesty, I don't do this exercise myself or with my clients. I used to, which led to some shoulder issues. It's so easy for this one to go so wrong. But if you are doing them, then you need to take special care not to let the elbows lift any higher than the shoulder joint. For real.

8) Crunches. Where to start...ay, yay yay! It doesn't matter how many you do, how fast you go or what weights you incorporate. If you can't do the crunch right, you won't see any benefits. So, well, let's start at the beginning. Hands behind your head, lower back pressed to the ground, eyes to the ceiling. Inhale, exhale as you crunch up. Don't let your back come off the ground. Don't pull on your neck. Don't let your elbows come in. Keep it nice and slow, moving through the full range of motion. Really, truly tune in to what your abs are doing.


Of course, there are a number of exercises that people do wrong, but these are the most common offenders. At least in my opinion. So if you do the workout above, or if you incorporate the exercises above into your own workout, just promise me that you'll do them right.

You never know who might point a finger at you if you do them wrong.

And when you're done working out, don't forget to grab yourself a healthy snack to refuel that body of yours. If you rely on bars, you might consider this one, which I've been noshing on as of late:

(In this case, as I was headed home from the gym.) There's a "trail mix" type of flavor, too. Haven't tried that one yet.

Speaking of "trying things," I did some ab work today. Planks, crunches and leg-lifts, oh my. And for real, need help! When basic crunches do you in, you know it's true. At least I have a good excuse, and she's currently sound asleep against my chest.

I'm totally getting my money's worth out of that carrier.

Question: What exercises do you have a hard time doing correctly? Do you struggle with any of the above? And finally, what's your go-to post-workout bar?

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