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Five Common Exercise Technique Mistakes And How To Correct Them

1. Squatting With Poor Knee Control

A common mistake people make when doing a squat is letting their knees come forward over their toes. To correct this it is important to start a squatting movement from your hips, sticking your bottom back like you are sitting into a chair, keeping your knees back behind your toes and putting your weight through your heels. When squatting down it is also important that you keep your feet and knees slightly wider than hip width apart rather than letting your knees come in together.

2. Pulling Shoulders Up When Doing A Seated Row

When performing a seated row it is very easy to pull back as hard as you can and hitch your shoulders up towards your ears. However what you should be doing is pulling your shoulder blades back and down, squeezing your shoulder blades together as you row without lifting your shoulders up. This will promote good posture as well as recruitment of the correct muscles throughout this exercise. One easy way to remember this is as you are doing the exercise think about keeping your shoulders away from your ears.

3. Bending Back During A Lat Pull Down

Watching people on the lat pull-down machine at the gym can be a cringe worthy experience. Too often you see people trying to pull too much resistance and bending back using their lower back to heave the weight down, rather than using their lats , upper back and biceps to do the work. To perform a lat pull-down with correct technique you should have a slight curve in your lower back and maintain this position throughout the movement. As you pull the bar down you should pull your shoulder blades back and down and draw your elbows in towards your rib cage. Another good way to remember to use your lat muscles is to think like you want to squeeze a ball in your arm pits.

4. Not Controlling A Movement Through Full Range Of Motion

When performing resistance training exercises it is easy to perform an exercise through part of a muscle’s range of motion, such as a bicep curl from an already flexed elbow position to a fully flexed elbow position or just letting the weight drop on the way back down. It is important to perform an exercise such as this from a position of full elbow extension to full elbow flexion and then controlling it back to the start position in a slow and controlled manor. This applies to all strength training exercises as it will strengthen the muscles through their full length as well as strengthening the concentric (shortening) and eccentric (lengthening) phases of movement.

5. Holding Breathe When Lifting Weights

Breathe holding is a common mistake that a lot of people make when putting in a large effort while exercising, especially when lifting weights. This is called the “Valsalva manoeuvre” and is a common practice of many highly trained Olympic and power lifting athletes. However this is a dangerous practice, especially for regular gym goers who are not as highly trained as these athletes as it causes a significant increase in blood pressure. When performing strength training exercises normal slow and controlled breathing should be encouraged. A handy tip is to time your breathing with your movement such as slowly breathing out during the up phase of a lift and slowly breathing in during the down phase of a lift.

Written By Jack Hickey
Exercise Physiologist at MD Health

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