The 5 Exercises Most Likely to Cause Injury
Moves to Perfect Today
The benefits of strength training are countless. It helps you sculpt a hot body, burn more calories when you're not working out, and protects you from osteoporosis and even heart disease. That is, if you do it right! Form is crucial, not only to ward off injuries, but also to ensure you get the most out of every move. "Practing correct form will guarantee you're activing the correct muscles in the right order, so that you're working what you want to work," says Albert Matheny, co-founder of Soho Strength Lab in New York City. Here, Matheny breaks down five common exercises everyone should be doing and calls out the right—and wrong—ways to execute ‘em.
1. Knee should track in the same direction as toes.
2. To get the full range of motion (and the most benefit from the move) make sure to take lunge all the way to the floor. You can even lightly tap back knee on the ground if you don't have a mirror, says Matheny.
3. Drive through front heel as you stand up.
4. Do not let knee go past toes. Doing so puts a lot of pressure on front knee—a recipe for knee pain and injury.
Note: If you're having trouble doing a front lunge properly, try a reverse lunge instead. Stepping back instead of forward allows you to use glutes more, protecting knees, says Matheny.
The model here is doing a full range of motion squat (check out 12 Ways to Spice Up Squats for Better Results). Squat as low as you can until your form falters (here's what to look for):
1. Just like in the lunge, don't let knees pass toes—and knees should track in the same direction as toes.
2. Keep heels on the floor the whole time. Think of it like you’re trying to spread the floor apart with feet, says Matheny.
3. How far apart you stand doesn't really matter so long as the rest of your form is perfect, says Matheny. The more flexible you are, the more narrow your stance can be.
4. Look forward and slightly up as you squat (rather than looking at the ground). Think about keeping chest up so that if you have a logo or slogan on your shirt, you could read it in mirror.
1. Maintain a slight bend in knees throughout the movement.
2. Push butt back toward wall behind you.
3. Keep back flat (like in the image above). Keeping core engaged helps. (Try 10 New Core Exercises to Tighten Your Tummy) The main job of abs in this move is to keep back from rounding which can cause injury, says Matheny.
4. Keep neck and head in line with back so you don’t strain neck.
5. Don’t let butt fly up in the air as you lower the weights down—doing so means you're dragging the weight up with upper body, rather than using back muscles.
6. Don't allow the weights to fly out in front of you as you stand up—keep them flush against legs.
The Biceps Curl
1. Keep chest up, and shoulders back.
2. Keep core engaged throughout the movement to protect chest muscles.
3. Make sure elbows stay flush with sides of body and don't come forward throughout the entire movement. (Many people try to curl too much weight and elbows fly forward. This would be a sign that you're not using biceps and you may strain your back. Choose a weight that allows you to maintain contact with elbows/sides, says Matheny.)
4. Squeeze glutes as you curl the weights. This helps to stabilize pelvis and back, preventing injury.
1. Hips should be in line with or slightly elevated relative to shoulders (but butt should not be super high up in the air!)
2. Keep abs and glutes tight throughout the movement.
3. Keep shoulders directly over elbows.
4. Hands should be shoulder-width apart. Clasping dumbbells with both hands (rather than placing hands on the ground) can help alleviate wrist discomfort. Never clasp hands together when in a forearm plank (Try this 9-Minute Power Plank Workout).