8 Gym Exercises (YOU’RE DOING WRONG!)
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We’ve all seen that guy in the gym bench pressing a ton of weight with hardly any range of motion.
Or the spotter that rips the weight off on every rep even when his help is completely not needed.
Or the guy doing bicep curls looking like hes trying to do the limbo. Even though you mightve laughed at these guys and their terrible form, you may very well be making some serious mistakes yourself.
Even if your mistakes arent as extreme a relatively minor deviation in your form can switch the focus of an exercise away from the muscles that you’re trying to target making that exercise far less effective.
Over the years of spending countless hours in the gym both as a full time trainer and while working out myself, Ive narrowed down this list to just 8 of the most common gym exercises that i see people getting wrong.
And today I want to give you guys some minor tweaks to make all of these exercises far more effective so you can better target the muscles that your trying to work, allowing you to build more muscle and see faster results.
1.So let’s start with the lower body for our first exercise which is lunges.
The biggest mistake that I see people of all different skill levels make with lunges is lunging with an almost overlapping stride position.
What I mean is that people will lunge in a straight line putting one foot directly in line with the other like they’re trying to do some complicated sobriety test.
This is wrong you want to plant your feet a little less than hip width apart for every lunge.
While lunges can help you develop better balance, the exercise itself should not be a balancing act so there’s no need to practically cross your feet over with each lunge.
Another mistake is taking steps too close together.
When you take a small step and lunge with your feet too close together you’re going to be making more of a triangle between your legs at the bottom of your lunge.
Usually your knee will also wind up going past your toe or simply just going too far forward which will put excess stress on that knee.
On the other hand when you do it right you’re going to be making more of what looks like a rectangle shape in between your legs and your front knee wont be going past your toes.
The last thing about lunges is that you shouldn’t let your knee smash into the floor on every rep.
You can definitely come down to the floor and lightly touch the floor with your knee as long as you do it in a controlled way.
Dropping to your knee on the other hand not only can It harm your knee but it’ll also take the tension off your legs at the bottom of every rep.
2.Now moving on to an upper body exercise,
we have dips on the parallel bars. First of all you shouldn’t do dips on a bench.
Since your hands are locked behind your back the exercise puts your shoulders in a very unnatural position that can cause impingement.
Luckily with parallel bars we could do dips without the hands being behind the back, but even with regular dips on parallel bars there are still a lot of mistakes to address.
First of all you shouldn’t be doing partial reps like I see many people doing at the gym.
If you can’t do reps where you go all the way down until your upper arm is almost parallel with the ground then work on improving your tricep strength with other exercises.
if you have an assisted pull-up machine or resistance bands you can use those to help you work through a full range of motion on dips as well.
Not going low enough is a problem but going too low is also a problem, you shouldn’t go lower than parallel with the floor.
Otherwise you’ll once again be placing a lot of stress on the shoulders. The other thing that people will do is flare their elbows out way too far.
While you can flare your elbows out a little bit and lean forward to concentrate more on your chest you don’t want to flare them out too far.
And the last thing that a lot of people do wrong is they try to do dips perfectly vertical.
Even if you’re trying to concentrate on your triceps you’ll be a lot better off leaning at least slightly forward with your chest in front of your hips on this exercise.
3.Next up are dumbbell and barbell chest presses.
The most common mistakes with these are either having your elbows flared too far out or having them too tight together.
When your elbows are flared too far out you’re putting a lot of pressure on your shoulder and rotator cuff.
On the other hand when your elbows are too close to your ribs you’re shifting most of the tension away from your chest and redirecting that tension towards your triceps and the front of your shoulder.
Now keep in mind a lot of this does depend on grip width as well. When you’re purposefully trying to do a wider grip on the bench press your elbows will naturally flare out a little wider.
And the same thing in Reverse, when you’re doing close grip presses your elbows will naturally be tighter to your body.
However ideally with something like a dumbbell press or a regular bench press we want our elbows to be about 75 degrees away from our body, but no more.
Another mistake is curving the lower back out too much.
Before beginning the exercise we do want to bring the shoulder blades back and tight together and we also want to maintain the natural lumbar curve in our lower back
but we don’t want to look like we’re bridging while we’re bench pressing because this will increase the risk of injury to your neck and your lower back.
Another mistake is ending off with the weight above or below your shoulders.
Even if you follow an arch path during a bench press, at the end of the movement The bar or the dumbbells should always in line with your shoulders not below your shoulder or above your head.
4.Let’s move on to another chest exercise cable flyes.
For some reason with cable flys I see a lot of people bringing their arms and the cables way too far back.
The problem here is that with chest flyes since your elbows are opened up at a very wide angle there’s already a lot of tension on your shoulders.
When you go too far back you increase your risk of hyperextedning and injuring your shoulders.
When lowering the weight, You want to aim to stop even with your chest or maybe just a little further back before lifting that weight back up.
Another problem that mostly beginners run into is performing the fly with the elbows locked out.
Not only does this put excessive pressure on the elbows but it also decreases the amount of tension that’s placed on the chest which is the muscle that you’re trying to Target to begin with.
You want to keep your elbows slightly bent and pretend that you’re hugging a really wide tree.
The last problem you might run into is if you’re rounding your shoulders too far forward.
With fly’s just like with the chest presses you want to make sure you retract your shoulder blades and stick your chest out.
5.Next up is the bent over barbell row.
With this exercise, most people aren’t sure where they should be aiming to bring the bar.
You can bring the bar higher up towards your chest or lower towards your belly button. While neither of these are a mistake you should be choosing where to aim for a specific purpose.
When you row towards your belly button you’ll target a lot more of the muscles in the middle of your back and some of your lats as well.
On the other hand when you do rows closer to your chest you’ll be targeting a lot more of your upper back.
Of course this does also depend on how far you bend forward as well. Now the most serious mistake that I see for any standing bent over movement, is forward rounding of the spine.
Normally you’ll naturally maintain a neutral lumbar curve but when you’re bent over with heavy weight in your hands,
that weight will be pulling your upper body down, and if you dont resist and stabilize the weight properly you can easily wind up with a lower back injury.
So to prevent this from happening you’ll want to stick your chest out and squeeze your shoulder blades tight together before you even lift up the weight.
Thinking about maintaining a big chest and seeing your chest in the mirror the whole time will help you out quite a bit.
If you still have trouble with your lower back rounding then I recommend also sticking your butt out.
It might feel weird before beginning the exercise but once you have that weight in your hands and the weight is pulling your upper body down you’ll have that neutral lumbar curve.
For beginners, I’ve found that keeping the head up reminds them to keep their chest up as well because where the head goes the body follows.
But, you can also pack your chin tight by pulling your chin back in a position that makes it look as if you have a double chin while keeping your eyes a few feet in front of you.
Now this same advice applies whenever you’re in a bent-over position lifting anything off the ground whether it’s a big compound exercise like a deadlift,an isolation exercise like a bent over reverse fly, or your simply lifting a heavy box off the ground.
The last thing you want to avoid with barbell rows is pulling with your hands instead of pulling with your elbows.
When you pull with your hands you’re going to be working your biceps a lot more on the other hand if you focus on pulling that weight up with your elbows you’re going to Target the back much better.
6.Another exercise I see problems with is with cable tricep extensions whether you’re using an EZ bar attachment or a rope.
The first mistake is not locking your elbows in place. Your elbows should be tight to your ribs and they shouldn’t be swinging back and forth as the weight goes up and down.
Otherwise you’ll be incorporating your lats making this tricep exercise a lot less effective.
The other mistake is standing too Straight Up In what looks like a perfectly vertical line.
Now while you can get away with this with a rope if you open up the Rope at the bottom of your extension and go around your hips…. With an EZ bar
you’re not going to be able to come to full extension because your hips are going to be in the way.Instead you should bend slightly forward to get a full range of motion and to better target your triceps.
7.Next up is the lat pulldown.
The biggest mistake you see with this one is excessive swinging when bringing the bar down towards your chest.
When you swing like this not only can you wind up with a lower back injury but you’re also using momentum rather than using your lats.
Instead you want to position yourself right under the bar and once again stick your chest out by squeezing your shoulder blades really tight together.
You want to do most of your reps without any assistance from momentum and only use a little bit of momentum to help squeeze out those last couple reps as your muscles start to fatigue.
The other common mistake beginners make with lat pulldowns is they’ll pull the bar too low.
When you go too low your putting your shoulders in a bad position and you’re also limiting the effectiveness of the exercise especially since you’ll have to be using a lot lighter of weight to get down that far.
Instead you should be aiming to bring the bar either under your chin or to your upper chest and no lower.
The last mistake with this exercise is pulling with your elbows too close together.
In reality when you’re doing this exercise you want to pretend that you’re trying to bring your elbows behind your back for a more effective contraction and for better targeting of the lats.
8.The last exercise that I want to go over today is Skull Crushers.
With Skull Crushers you want to make sure that you keep your elbows close together.
Many people will flare their elbows out too far on exercises like Skull Crushers and French curls.
By doing that you’re once again taking emphasis off of the triceps.
The other major mistake that I see is bringing the bar above their head on the way down.
These are called Skull Crushers for a reason your target should be your forehead on every rep.
if you go behind your head it may allow you to lift some extra weight but that’s because your lats will start taking over the movement.
And then momentum that you get from your lats will limit the effectiveness of this exercise for your triceps.
It’s a lot rare to see people going and aiming too low for their teeth or for their collar bones.
While this might make it feel like your triceps are getting a better workout it’s also putting your elbows in a very compromised position,
similar to squatting with your knees way too far forward.
The last take away point with these is you want your shoulder blades pinched back while doing these just like you were doing for your chest presses.
That about wraps it up for today as always I really hope this tip has helped you out and I hope you learned something new.
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My passion for fitness began when I was 14 years old. I naturally fell in love with training and haven’t stopped since. At 18 years I acquired my first personal training certification from ACE after which I opened my first gym in 2011, Gravity Training Zone. I'm now in the process of opening up my third location! I love to share my knowledge through personal training, my online courses, and youtube channel now with over 1,000,000 subscribers! I'm always here for my customers so if you need help don't hesitate to send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
1.When I start talking about dips play this video: https://photos.app.goo.gl/SQb8cxXJb6kJ7BUs8
- For barbell rows use the footage : https://vimeo.com/339261772/3011462c11
- Also for barbell rows when I talk about keeping your chin tucked double chin position you can use this video: https://vimeo.com/239202362/7dfea25b74