Continuing where we started with our last article on 5 Exercises You May Be Doing Incorrectly, today we are taking a look at 5 more exercises you may be doing incorrectly.
Injury is a serious thing, especially when it comes to working out, so we hope that by offering these simple tips on common exercises we will be able to save you a trip to the doctor and allow you to keep on keeping on at your local gym. Let’s get started.
Bent Over Rows
Bent over rows (shown above) is a great exercise for compound movement which incorporates the lats, rhomboids, rear delts, traps, and even the biceps. However, there is plenty of room for error with these exercises.
Often this exercise is done the way it is pictured above, leaning over and bending at the waist. According to exercise scientists, this can be very dangerous, including that “lumbar spine flexion can cause a disc to displace posteriorly, potentially hitting a nerve.”
The safer way to perform this exercise is pictured below. Use either a bench or exercise ball to take the strain off of your back and ensure that you aren’t setting yourself up for a muscle tear or a pinched nerve.
When done correctly, dead lifts are a great full-body workout, but when they are done incorrectly, they can lead to lumbar injuries and muscle spasms. Proper form and warming up are two major steps to avoid injury, but what does proper form look like?
In order to understand the correct way to do this lift, practice your form without weights by doing this simple exercise:
- Stand about six inches from a wall, back toward the wall.
- With your spine straight, hinge your hips backward, as if you’re about to sit down in a chair.
- Lightly tap your behind against the wall, and then hinge your hips back to upright position. Be sure to engage your glutes and extend your hips.
Once you have done this a few times, you should be able to try it with weights. However, try to avoid snapping your arms to lift the bar, lifting with a rounded back, and failing to engage your core, otherwise you are far more likely to make a serious mistake.
If you are more of a visual learner, check out this video on proper deadlift form.
Like the deadlift, the overhead squat is a good whole-body exercise, provided it’s done right. Mobility in your hips, knees, and ankles is vital when lifting a large weight, especially when squatting is involved.
In order to observe proper form for this exercise, fitness experts say to “stop when your low back starts to arch excessively, your knees drive forward past your toes or your arms move forward. Whatever depth that is, that is the bottom of your squat.” Do not push yourself past this limit! Serious injury can result, especially if you are in a higher weight class.
If you are worried about lacking the mobility required for this exercise, a safer alternative is what is called the behind the neck squat (pictured below). This type of exercise is similar to a deadlift, in that it is great for working out the full body, but much safer and less risky.
Medicine Ball Rotation Tosses
Medicine balls or weighted balls are a good, inexpensive addition to any home gym and can be found in almost any proper fitness center nowadays. They are great for added resistance and abdominal workouts. One popular exercise incorporating a weighted ball is rotation tosses (shown above), but the downsides of this workout may outweigh the benefits.
Anytime you are bending or rotating backward, especially with the resistance of a weighted ball, can easily lead to a herniated disc. Instead of putting additional stress on your spine, consider safer options such as lateral, forward-moving medicine ball throws. These have been shown to boost power and have far less risk than rotation tosses.
Seated Leg Extensions
Seated leg extensions (shown above) are often done on a leg extension machine and are designed to work out your quads. Your quadriceps are important to work on because they are vital to maintaining strong knee, leg, and hip strength. However, keep these things in mind when working on the leg extension machine to avoid injury:
- Keep your muscles engaged the entire time and make sure your movements are smooth and regular. Avoid jerking your legs upwards. This can wear down the cartilage in your knees and be damaging to your joints.
- When you bring your legs up, briefly pause at the top of your rep and bring them back down. Do not pause when your legs are bent, just bring them up and pause briefly. This should be a very fluid motion.
- Use your stomach and leg muscles, not your back! If you put too much of your back into it, you won’t be working out the muscles you are trying to target and could very easily strain your back.
Some trainers recommend skipping this exercise entirely due to its high risk of injury and swapping it with a different exercise working the same muscles, such as squats. But, if you do choose to work on the leg extender machine, remember our guide.
That is all we have on common exercises to make sure you are doing properly, but if there are any other common workouts you want to make sure you are doing the right way, let us know in the comments below!