Busy moms need to make the most out of any workout, so making sure you are working your body correctly is important. Although you might think you’re doing those sit-ups or squats right, there’s a good chance you’re not. Here’s a list of the 5 most common exercises done wrong, as well as ways you can correct them so you get the full effect when performing them.
1. Sit-ups: This is the number one exercise done wrong by most women. Doing sit-ups incorrectly is not just an inefficient exercise, but it can be downright dangerous and painful. If you aren’t using the correct form when doing sit-ups, you risk straining muscles in your neck and back.
Correction – If your core is not strong enough yet for a full sit up, do crunches instead, raising your shoulder blades as far off the ground as you can. Lie back with your feet on the floor and knees bent. Place your hands behind your head or across your chest, and then raise your torso to a 45-degree angle, focusing on lifting from the belly. Keep your back flat to the floor as much as possible to prevent injury. Remember, slow is better because it works your muscles more thoroughly.
2. Squats: Squats do a wonderful job of toning your lower body when done correctly. If not, you can cause injury to joints and knees. Although most people use weights when squatting for maximum effect, it is best to start slow to avoid harm.
Correction – Begin squatting with no weight until you get comfortable with the form. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and then lower your body as if sitting in a chair. Take your thighs to a 90-degree angle, keeping your knees in line with your legs to prevent injury. Do not dip too low, hold for a few seconds then return to a standing position. Once you master the squat form, challenge yourself by adding a lateral raise, high pull, or a weighted ball or kettlebell in an isolated hold.
3. Push-Ups: Push-ups are probably the second most common exercise error. You may let your hips drop, keep your hands too far apart or only lower your body a few inches instead of fully to the ground. For most women, a full push-up can be difficult (leading to injury), so a modified version works best.
Correction – To do a modified push-up, get on the floor on all fours and rise up on your knees. Place your hands slightly wider than your shoulders and cross your ankles. Lower your upper body until it is only an inch or so from the floor; pause and push up as quickly as possible. Once your hips begin to sag, you’ve probably reached your max reps for the day. Once you build up your strength, challenge yourself and do a traditional push up with knees off the floor. Put the weight on the outside of your hands and keep your gaze forward.
4. Plank: The plank may seem easy since your heart rate isn’t racing, but if you feel like the plank is easy once you’re actually in the position, then you are most definitely doing it wrong. Your body should feel like it is going to explode after about 10 seconds of a correctly done plank. If you don’t feel the burn, it’s likely your letting your arms – not your core – do all the brunt work.
Correction – Place your elbows underneath your shoulders and make a straight line with your body. Don’t raise your booty or let your booty and hips sag. Raise your core up, hold it for as long as possible, then lower yourself to the ground, relax and repeat. Once you master the plank and are comfortable in your position, you can add a ton of super effective variations. Check out 6 great plank variations here!
5. Lunges: Lunges are great to work your lower body, but done incorrectly (like squats), they can cause damage to joints and knees. Many people step too wide or lean back, which causes strain. Bringing your knee past your toes is another no-no.
Correction – Begin in a wide stance with one foot in front of the other. Bend both knees 90-degrees and lower your body straight down, keeping your back straight. Your front knee should stay behind your toes, while your back knee remains under your torso. Challenge yourself with split lunges, reverse lunges, walking lunges, weighted lunges, jumping lunges…the options are endless!