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Thursday, July 19, 2012
By Karen Kwan
If you’re going to the gym, but you’re performing your exercises with poor form, well, sorry to tell you this, but your workout may be a waste of time. Not only are you recruiting the wrong muscles, you may actually injure yourself in the process. We checked in with Jason Geall, owner of Harmony Fitness in Toronto, for the top five form fixes – these are the fitness faux pas he seems people committing often (until, of course, he helps them correct it).
“When people are squatting, they start looking like they’re doing a Michael Jackson impression, they go down and come up and they’re on their tippy toes, heels are completely off that ground,” says Geall. What this does is throw everything into your knees and takes all of the pressure off of what you’re trying to work out, being your quads, legs and glutes, he says.
Proper form: Focus on putting all your weight into your heels. Sit back and lower your butt down and keep your chest up and chin off chest. “People say ‘My knees are killing me and I don’t know why,’ and it’s from their squats,” says Geall. He blames a lack of stability. “People do things very quickly and they don’t focus on where to put the weight.” Visualize there’s a chair behind you and you’re sitting into it, recommends Geall.
“Someone people forget their breathing when working out at the gym,” says Geall. People hold their breath and can get lightheaded and you get force and strength with that exhale.
Proper form: Inhale as you go down and exhale when you’re exploding, so in a push up, you exhale as you come up, he says. “If you did it the opposite way, you won’t hurt yourself but the exhale helps you push through that explosive movement and get through it,” says Geall.
Watch those hips when you do plank. People drop their hips like crazy, says Geall, and this puts stress on your lower back.
Proper form: Keep your back as flat as possible (use a mirror to check this) and make sure your butt is not too high. “If it’s too high you won’t feel anything, and just look like a drawbridge,” he says. Squeeze your butt and this take pressure off your lower back. Keep your gaze straight down and chin off your chest. Your forearms are right underneath your chest; if your arms are out in front of you, this stresses your shoulders.
Never pull on your neck. “People start yanking on their necks and are just doing a neck crunch,” says Geall.
Proper form: Look up at ceiling and keep elbows up and lift chest towards ceiling, from the core and lifting your shoulder blades off the ground, and then going back down. Keep neck totally neutral, with your hands behind your head for support and use those abdominals to lift your shoulder blades up.
Watch those knees of yours. You never want your kneecap to go over your toes. “This puts a lot of stress on your kneecaps,” says Geall.
Proper form: Keep as much weight in your heels as possible, don’t let your knees pass your toes and go nice and slow, he says. Chest up and look straight ahead.