Getting to the gym requires motivation, and seeing results from the gym requires persistence. Maintaining good form at the gym requires both knowledge and discipline. Maintaining proper form is the easiest of the three parts, yet is still all too common that both frequent and infrequent gym goers have improper form. Below we will give you some of the most common mistakes so that you can avoid them when you workout.
The stair-climber is a staple in the fitness industry, and for good reason, it’s an awesome way to get a relatively low-impact workout while torching calories and toning your hips, legs, and glutes. However, like any workout, in order to see the desired results it needs to be used correctly. Bent backs are by far the most common form failure you will see on the stair-stepper. Though it may feel better at the time it is extremely detrimental to your body, not to mention it lowers your calorie burn. Bending your back increases your risk of having muscle and ligament sprains because it causes your lower back to overstretch. This can lead to chronic back pain and muscle spasms in the future. In order to avoid this imagine you are running when on the stair climber and keep your hips over your legs and keep your elbows at 90 degrees, swinging back and forth in your natural cadence. Not only will you see results quicker, but your back will thank you in the long run.
Studies show that 50-80% of runners are injured annually and many of those injuries can be prevented by paying attention to form. Being aware of your gait and heel strike can make a huge impact on your running and can help prevent injury and long term foot issues. While striking on your heels is a natural part of your gait, if done incorrectly it can lead to shin splints, minor stress fractures and long term knee problems. One of the main causes to a hard heel strike is having too long of a stride, as this causes you to extend your body too far and puts additional strain on your heels up to your ankles and knees. To help correct this issue there are two things that can help you to correct your stride. When running try to focus on landing as “lightly” as you can, keeping your shoulders over your hips to maintain balanced midfoot strike. A great tool to help correct issues with your foot strike and gait is to make sure you are wearing the right shoes that will help, and not hinder your natural gait.
To figure out your natural gait, schedule a consultation with one of our trainers today.
Sins of the Squat Rack
Everyone has heard of the Squat, it’s one of the most common total body workouts and it’s also one that even veteran gym goers frequently do incorrectly. The number one mistake? Not squatting deep enough. Not only does this increase your chances for injury but it also reduces your range of motion severely decreasing your flexibility. So next time you squat make sure that you are parallel (or deeper) to the floor and focus on your posture and form for your range of motion. If you are ever unsure about your squatting form squat in front of a mirror or ask a Personal Trainer to help you until you are sure that you are doing it correctly.
Blunders of the Bench Press
The bench is not like other exercises because it has many components that can easily be done incorrectly. To safely bench weights you must be able to pay attention to your form in three main places; legs, elbows and back. Remember, when benching weights you should ALWAYS have a spotter (unless the machine has a catch to keep the weight from falling on you). If you don’t have a workout buddy available or a friendly person nearby, contact the gym and see if there is staff member available to assist you.
- LEGS: When your set yourself up on the bench, plant your feet flat on the ground, and keep them there. If your legs shift or move, it will significantly decrease your power and results you get from the bench as well as increasing your risk of injury.
- ARMS: Many people believe your arms should be at a 90° angle when in fact this causes excess stretching in your chest and can really hurt you. While lowering the bar you should try to keep your elbows at a 75° angle. This exercise is unique in that rather than traveling a straight line, the weights should move diagonally from your mid chest to your shoulders.
- BACK: This is a huge controversy in the workout world. Should you arch or should you not arch? The real answer is both, it is totally based on your exercise goals and body. You want to allow your body to maintain a natural arch in your lower back but you also don’t want to overarch as this can cause serious injury. For a better understanding of the safest way to bench it is highly recommended that you consult with a personal trainer.
For a full step by step detailing of how to properly bench press stop in to see one of our personal trainers. If you aren’t able to stop by you can also check out this great article, it has some great tips with lots of photos and videos to demonstrate. https://stronglifts.com/bench-press