I love learning about health and fitness and over the past six or seven years have braodened my knowledge of the topic considerably. I teach group fitness and feel confident guiding others, but it’s an ongoing constant improvement process. I still don’t consider myself an expert, but back when I first started the blog I was even farther from it. I was just a fitness enthusiast who was sharing the workouts she did for fun. I made no claims to be an authority and it’s a good thing because looking back on my old posts … girrrrrrl no.
Every one in a while an old workout post will surface and while most of them are fine, there are a few pictures that make me totally cringe. I thought it’d be fun (and useful) today to call myself out a little. Fitness Trainer Nicole is going to correct the improper form of Fitness Enthusiast Nicole.
5 Common Exercise Mistakes (That I’ve Made)
1. Low Back Arch in Plank
from 8-Minute Abs 2.0
I did a whole post on common planking form mistakes, and I definitely used to be guilty of letting my low back arch down towards the ground. And I have to make an embarrassing confession about it:
I used to do it in pictures on the blog because I thought it made my butt look good.
GAHHHNOOOOOFJDKSLFKEJLKEG OEDJFSKLD:S I’m the worst. Well, I was the worst when I was 23 years old.
There’s a natural curvature to the low spine and planking isn’t about eliminating that; it’s about tightening through the core to prevent it from being over-exaggerated.
Not as bootylicious, but definitely harder on the abs and easier on the low back!
2. Knee ahead of Toes
When you’re in a squat or lunge position with the heel on the floor, your knee shouldn’t jut out farther than the toes. You want the support of the ankle joint underneath it so that the knee isn’t in a strained position. There are exceptions to this rule, but in general think knees behind the big toe.
I’ve definitely seen worse than in the above picture, but this would be safer for the knee:
Notice the weight is in my front heel and the knee is stacked over the ankle.
3. Kettlebell Swings Higher Than The Chest
I know in CrossFit they swing overhead and if you have a CF coach instructing you how to do that then great, but with traditional kettlebell swings, you only bring the bell to chest height. I don’t do CrossFit so I stick with the standard and when I use kettlebells in group classes tell students to do the same. If the kettlebell is easily coming up to head height like it is in the above picture, you’re probably using a weight that’s too light for you!
My kettlebell is in storage for the summer so here’s the correct form from a previous blog post:
The top of the swing is chest height.
4. Craning Neck during Push Ups
Your neck is part of your spine. When in push up position, we typically know to hold our core in a neutral position (as if we were planking) but don’t always apply that logic to our necks. You should be looking at the floor a few inches in front of your hands; not at the ceiling.
The problem with this, in addition to it being uncomfortable for your neck, is that it sets off a chain of misalignment through the rest of the body. Notice in the above picture how craning my neck is causing my back to then arch. Besides the fact that I’m cracking up (Joe walked in on me taking self-timer push up pictures haha), here’s a much better push up:
Notice how shifting my gaze downward a few inches helps me keep the core engaged, removing that sag from the low back. I’m also not rolling forward through my feet.
Fellow instructors/trainers–what are some of the common form errors you see with clients? Everyone–what are the form corrections you’ve made for yourself?
P.S. I genuinely appreciate when people call out form errors in the comments of my posts so please never be afraid to correct me! It’s helpful for me and everyone reading the blog. Seeing myself in pictures throughout the years has helped me improve immensely and constructive criticism isn’t “trolling.” 🙂