I hate to harp on about it, but as trainers there are some training form mistakes we see in the gym over and over again that we find particularly irksome.
And not just because we’re purists, but because exercises performed incorrectly are at best less effective, and at worst dangerous.
If you haven’t read Part 1 of this series, you can check that out here. Today our experts are remedying three more of the most common training form mistakes.
Incorrect upper back training – Sean L’Estrange
- Start off by mobilising the shoulder joint and girdle by performing band resisted scapular retractions or snap retractions laying on a roller. Perform shoulder joint external rotations with a band or laying on the ground with elbows at 90 degrees.
- Isolate each shoulder joint and shoulder girdle by performing unilateral exercises (single limb). This will disallow one side of the body to compensate for the other.
- Perform exercises that require the shoulder joint to pull a load on a horizontal plane. This can be achieved by standing and pulling resistance towards you (banded, cable, TRX, shopping trolley, stroller) or laying in the prone position (on your tummy) and pulling resistance into the shoulder blade.
- Allow your shoulder blade to glide towards your spine giving you a retracting feeling. Keep the shoulder joint down and avoid shrugging.
- Always promote flexibility in your anterior muscles by stretching your chest and anterior (front) shoulder. This will allow the scapula to retract more easily day to day. Stretch every day, holding stretches for at least a minute.
Sloppy squat technique – Sam Gilbert
The squat is one of the most important basic strength exercises, but there’s a lot of room for error with form. There are a few mistakes that we tend to see that can compromise the effectiveness of the exercise and leave you with an achey back and knees.
Mistake 1: Not squatting deeply enough
Excepting those with a prior injury that prevents it, most people are not squatting deep enough. Squats to at least parallel are one of the most effective lifts for lower body strength and growth. Squatting deeper will also lead to improvements in knee and lower back function.
The reasons for only performing partial squats are typically due to either fear or lack of flexibility in the ankle and hip joints.
How to fix it
Working on mobility in these areas is important, but until you have adequate mobility, a simple solution is elevating your heels in order to increase the range of motion in the ankles, allowing you to reach a greater depth.
Mistake 2: Lifting the heels
This results in the weight shifting forward, putting pressure on the knees and making the lift more difficult.
How to fix it
Try focussing on driving the heels into the floor throughout the movement, and add ankle mobility into your warmups.
Mistake 3: Collapsing your knees in
Letting your knees collapse together during a squat can lead to knee pain or injury. The problem is usually not using the glute muscles enough when squatting. It can also be caused by weak hips, tight ankles or poor hamstring or quad strength.
How to fix it
This depends on what the causes are. Fixes include:
- focussing on squeezing the glute muscles throughout the movement
- ankle mobility drills
- decrease the weight and practise the technique slowly with the knees following the toes as you descend
- band exercises to strengthen hip abduction.
Kettlebell blunders – Jessica Chiappetta
Holding a Kettlebell incorrectly can cause some serious damage when performing movements. Once you transition from double arms to single arms swings, and then adding movements amongst those, grip becomes even more important.
This is how you perform a Kettlebell swing correctly:
- Make sure to have a “hook grip” with pinky to index finger around the bell handle in between the “horns” (handle corners). Make sure your grip isn’t too tight, your palm shouldn’t be touching the handle!
- When swinging the bell, perform a hip hinge movement NOT a squat. This is the biggest mistake we make. Initiate movement by swinging hips back with the bell and push hips forward in a hinge like motion. This of a floor hip thrust or a glute bridge.
- Elbows should stay close to the body and only slight bent.
- Absorb force of bell back into hips as it comes down and use that momentum to get it up again rather than using arms to swing it up.
- Remember this is a hip and glute exercise and not an arm exercise. If we use our arms to the movement we can cause serious anterior shoulder injuries.