push-ups

At the gym, many of us are on our own, without the watchful eye of a trainer or coach. While we may turn to the interwebs for help with our programming, an overabundance of information — much of which is unreliable — makes it difficult to find the movements that really make a difference. What results is a number of exercises you’re doing wrong without even noticing, except that you don’t get any results; and that, you notice.

Here are five exercises you’re doing wrong, and how to fix them.

Lunges

lunge kettlebells

Lunges are one of the go-to exercises for killer quads and a bigger booty; but form matters. And if you’re doing them wrong, don’t plan on acquiring a Kardashian-sized backside anytime soon. One of the most common mistakes is not stepping out far enough — or stepping out too far. So, how can you tell you’re in the right place?

When you lunge, your knee should be lined up with your ankle, with your legs forming a right angle. Kiss your knee to the ground — avoiding slamming it down, and don’t leave it there, or you’ll lose tension. Your upper body should not be folding over while you lunge — posture matters!

Squats

Squats make the world a better place — except for all the people doing them wrong. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing bodyweight squats or you have 300 pounds on your back. Form is still important. While there are a number of things to keep in mind with this movement, start with these to keep it simple:

  • Squat past parallel.
  • Push your knees out.
  • Keep your back tight.

If you look like a dog relieving itself, go down in weight and practice making it pretty. Squats done incorrectly will not do much to make you stronger, and you’re at a greater risk of injury.

Planks

 woman plank

If planks are easy, you’re doing them wrong. If they hurt, you’re also doing them wrong. Engage your core so your back isn’t sagging toward the ground, which is a common cause of discomfort for the plank. On the other hand, your butt shouldn’t be up in the air, which takes away most of the challenge. Think of keeping your body in a straight line. If you’ve mastered proper form and the plank starts to get too easy, place weight on your back to make it harder.

Push-Ups

Improper form can render your push-ups obsolete, and that makes us cry. Your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. When you push up, keep your elbows tucked at your sides, not flared out like wings. Like planks, your body should form a straight line — with neither a saggy back nor a protruding posterior.

Sit-Ups

situp outside

Our best advice for sit-ups? Don’t do them. There are other core exercises out there far superior. But if you happen to be a fan, make darn sure you’re getting the most out of them. Remember that unlike crunches, your entire back should leave the floor. Engage your core to keep your spine straight. Some people tend to use sheer force and momentum to swing up off the floor, pulling their upper body by their head. To avoid this, don’t hold on to your head at all. Instead, flare your elbows out and merely touch your temples with your fingers, or cross your arms on your chest.

What are some of the more popular exercises that a lot of us haven’t really figured out yet?