When you’re at the gym, do you ever ask yourself if you’re doing it right?

Cover PhotoWhen I began my workout regimen in February, I was consistent, I was sweaty and I was pumped to see my results. After 30 days of exercise with few noticeable changes, I consulted a friend who happens to be a physical therapist, specializing in sports medicine.

He watched me do my normal workout routine and kindly told me that everything I was doing was completely wrong! It was clear why my results were few and far between. He guided me through my workout and taught me the proper form and techniques for some common exercises. Here a few of the mistakes I made with the way he advised me to do these exercises.

Mistake #1:  Improper form on a treadmill

Hiking up the treadmill incline on full speed seems like a good idea to burn calories but if you are hanging on to the front or side of the treadmill, putting all of your body weight on the handles, then the work out can become ineffective. He told me the proper way to use the incline is to set it on a speed and incline that does not force you to hold onto the machine. The handles are on the machine for a reason, but you have to be sure to use them properly. When using the handles be sure not place all of your body weight on the handles, instead lightly grasp the handles to keep balance. Putting too much weight on the handles makes the workout easier for you because you’re putting all of the stress on your upper body instead of your lower body.

Mistake #2: Squats with an exercise ball

Doing squats with an exercise ball decreases the effectiveness of the action significantly, if done improperly. I was placing the ball in the lower to middle portion of my back and doing the squats as if I was doing them without the ball behind you. I found out this was ineffective because I was putting most of my weight on the ball, taking the work out of doing a squat. The most effective way to achieve this exercise is to place a ball in middle of back and step out from the wall into the squat position while extending your arms out. This form will get you the best results for doing wall squats with an exercise ball.

Mistake #3: Squats with weights 

Doing squats with a weight can be great exercise but if done wrong, you won’t see the results you’re looking for. Keeping your feet shoulder width apart and your back straight allows you to get the best results for your glutes, abdomen and legs. If the weight is too heavy, it can cause you to lean forward instead of keeping your back straight. I was taught that the trick is to find a weight that is heavy enough to challenge you but not so heavy that it will cause strain and poor technique.

Mistake #4: Lunges with weights 

Lunges are great for strengthening your legs and quad muscles, adding weights to this exercise can increase the difficulty and effectiveness of the move. The wrong way to do a lung is to not step out far enough and to lean forward. When doing a proper lunge, do not lean forward, keep your back straight, and make sure to extend your leg out far out enough to make the lunge count.

Mistake #5: Seated leg press
Leg presses are done properly by placing your feet, flat on the base of the machine and push up using your legs and not straining your lower back. Keep your knees at a 90-degree angle to maintain proper form. Placing the toes of your feet at the bottom of the base is only necessary if you are trying to work out your calves in a “cherry-picker” fashion.

Consult your doctor before taking on any new workout regimens and once you get in the gym make sure you’re keeping proper form for the best results. Making common mistakes at the gym can cause serious harm and injury, consider training with a professional who can guide and consult you on better techniques.

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  1. Oh, you made me laugh and wince with the treadmill blunder. I see so many cardio bunnies holding on for dear life and I desperately want to tell them they are cheating themselves, but I keep my mouth shut. Unsolicited advice is rarely recieved well.

    Another short-changer is hanging out on the treadmill doing the same speed or same routine to the point your body is no longer challenged. Frankly, I’d rather spend 20minutes during HIIT(interval training) and get bang for my buck and bonus: I’m far more likely to get in 20 minutes than 45.

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