5 Body-Weight Exercises You’re Doing Wrong
I’m a strong believer in taking a natural approach to things. When it comes to resistance training, body-weight exercises engage your body in some of the most natural movements.
Not only do they challenge your muscles in ways you can’t get with machines, they can also be done anywhere, anytime, without a single piece of equipment. And done correctly, they can really boost your toning results and help you reach your fitness goals in half the time.
Unfortunately, a lot of people are getting body-weight exercises all wrong. I’d say of all the workout mistakes I see, a large majority occur with body-weight exercises. This is likely due to the fact that body-weight exercises often require balance and incorporate a number of muscle groups. And without machines to keep you in line, you’re more likely to veer off course.
So today I’m giving you a hand and reviewing 5 of the most common body-weight exercises that people get wrong – and how to fix them!
Listen up, and check out these common workout mistakes…
5 Body-Weight Exercises to Get in Check
1. Push-Ups – The push-up is one of the oldest body-weight exercises around, and it can be an extremely effective workout for your pecs and triceps while engaging your core muscles. That said, you may be doing it all wrong. The biggest mistake I see with push-ups is flared elbows, and over time, this can lead to shoulder pain and even an injured rotator cuff.
Getting it Right – Keep your elbows closer to your body through the push-up, say a 45-degree angle or so. This will engage your triceps more and take some of the work away from your pecs, so to make sure you stay focused, hold the push-up for 2-3 counts at the lowest level, when your body is just a few inches from the floor.
2. Tricep Dips on Bench – Another classic, tricep dips may not be as simple as you think, especially if you’re knocking them out without thinking. Given that this move requires a lot of upper body work, your shoulders and back can really suffer. One of the most common mistakes I see here is scrunching of the shoulders and a bent back. Your arms should also be close enough so that you’re really engaging your triceps.
Getting it Right – Hold your hands no more than a foot apart to maximize this move. Ensure your back is straight and aligned with your neck, and hold that alignment throughout. Most importantly, make sure your shoulders are held down and back. Not only will these fixes avoid injury, they’ll also improve your gains.
3. Mountain Climbers – This is a great body-weight exercise to include in your workout, but if you’re moving too quickly you’re not reaping all its benefits. I often see people rushing through this one without really engaging all of the muscles involved.
Getting it Right – Start in a push-up position, and before doing anything else, make sure your back, neck, and hips are aligned and your core muscles are completely engaged. Then, move slowly and with control through this exercise, bringing each knee towards your abdomen and pausing there for 2 counts, before slowly lowering to starting position.
4. Squats – The squat is one of the most effective body-weight exercises you can do, with or without any added equipment. But how you position your arms and hands during a body-weight squat is key, and can really make a difference in results.
Getting it Right – Next time you do a body-weight squat, focus not only on your lower body but also your upper body. Specifically, I want you to hold your hands behind your head with your fingertips against the back of your neck. Don’t be sloppy – I want you to really engage your arms and hold your elbows back throughout the squat. This will better engage your core muscles and also challenge your lower back.
5. Box Jumps – This simple body-weight exercise has become pretty popular in recent years, and it’s definitely a heart-pounder. But like many plyometric exercises, this one can put a lot of strain on your legs and feet, especially your Achilles tendon. With box jumps, it’s the backward jump off of the box and back to the floor that can be most problematic.
Getting it Right – Rather than jumping backward off the box, step back one leg at a time. This will still engage your lower body muscles and work up a major sweat, but it will reduce the likelihood of injury and strain. So, jump on the box as usual and engage in a bit of a stepping workout on the way down.
Worried about what else you might be doing wrong?
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