There’s something about a fresh new year that makes you want to break out your exercise gear. And while we fist-bump you for wanting to work out more, it can be easy to get swept up by the enthusiasm and simply emulate the workout videos you’ve watched or you think you know what you’re doing.
Before you roll out the mat or step onto the gym floor, hit the pause button for a bit and consider: Do you know how to execute the exercises correctly? Sometimes, the exercises aren’t even complex ones but fundamental movements that you may have been executing incorrectly all this while without realising. Or it could simply be the post-“circuit breaker” inertia that’s contributing to the poor form.
What are these common mistakes and what can cause them? We spoke to the fitness experts for the answers and what to watch out for.
COMPLEX EXERCISES = BIGGER GAINS BUT …
You’re probably ready to take on more challenging workouts after spending weeks on basic exercises since the circuit breaker period. But sometimes, you may miss out the finer points for more complex movements, which can lead to injuries.
“You’re engaging more of your muscles and working them harder when you perform exercises that require you to understand how to stabilise yourself, find your balance, and combine your upper and lower body power,” said Thabata Da Costa Manso, a strength and conditioning expert with Evolve MMA. That is a lot of information to process but that is exactly why “the effects are great”, she said.
ONE-ARM KETTLEBELL CLEANS
- Keep your back flat and engage your core muscles at all times. Swing the kettlebell back between your legs to gain momentum and drive the swing forward and up.
- As you straighten your torso with the upward momentum, keep your elbow tucked in, and squeeze your glutes.
- Rotate your wrist to stop the kettlebell on the shoulder.
Common mistakes: The momentum used is powered at the hips, but it is a common mistake to turn the move into a bicep curl by using the arm muscles instead. Don’t forget to rotate your wrist to prevent the kettlebell from hitting it.
Consequences: Lower back and elbow aches.
- Stand with feet apart and take a step back. Ensure stability before making the next move.
- Keep your back straight and core engaged. Lower yourself by bending both knees to 90-degrees angle. Your weight should be evenly distributed on the lunge down, with more power on your front leg as you push yourself back up.
ALTERNATING ONE ARM AND ONE LEG PLANKS
- Position your hands parallel to one another, directly under the shoulders. Align your hips to your shoulders. Keep your neck and spine in a neutral position. Engage your core and pelvic muscles at all times to stabilise your body.
- Once stable, extend and raise one arm and the opposite leg, elongating your body as far as possible.
MISINFORMATION FROM YOUTUBE VIDEOS
Many people have been exercising to workout videos on YouTube and why not? Your coveted time slot at the gym could be full, the videos are free and you still get to keep active.
Fitness professional Darwin Ramirez from Virgin Active agreed that these online workouts do have a role in inspiring people to stay active. However, he highlighted that not everything you see is accurate and works for you.
“People consume so much online content from the wrong sources,” he said. “They basically watch random YouTube videos and apply the exercises to themselves in the gym. They get cues that are generalised but don’t realise they don’t work for everyone.”
- Stand with feet wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed slightly out. Torso-wise, keep your ribcage stacked above your pelvis. Hold the kettlebell or dumbbell at your chest.
- Send your hips back and bend your knees to lower yourself as far as possible. Keep your lower back neutral.
Common mistakes: Passively sinking into a squat position with rounded shoulders instead of controlling your movement throughout. When coming back up, watch that you don’t tiptoe and raise your heels.
Consequences: Low back pain, joint pain in the knees/ankles and spinal misalignment.
- Adopt a staggered stance with only the ball of your back foot on the floor. Keep your torso almost parallel to the floor. Rest your non-working arm on a chair in front of you.
- Pull the kettlebell up by driving your elbow to the ceiling. Control your movement on the way down.
Common mistakes: Bringing the kettlebell up with your bicep instead of pulling from the elbow. The other mistake is rotating through your hips and upper torso.
Consequences: Low back injury.
- Position two seats with a gap just wide enough to fit your hips (if you’re using chairs with backrests, place them against a wall for stability). Place your hands on the corners of each chair closest to your body, with elbows straight.
- Step out in front with your feet and rest only the heels on the floor.
- Lower your hips by bending your elbows slowly to an angle that feels comfortable. Push up until your elbows are almost locked out.
EXERCISE IS A SKILL THAT CAN GET “RUSTY”
Like any skills such as riding a bicycle, your exercise skills can also get “rusty” if you stop practising, said Leon Tan, a fitness instructor with Fitness First. “If you’ve been doing basic body weight exercises at home, you probably can retain the skills. A lot of gym-goers come back a little rusty after the circuit breaker,” he said.
- Hold the barbell over your shoulders while keeping your chest tall and back tight.
- Push back your hips and bend your knees in a half squat.
- Press the barbell straight overhead with your arms by your ears, and head slightly forward.
Common mistakes: Don’t push your knees forward; you should be doing so with your hips instead. At the top of the movement, people also tend to lean back too much instead of standing tall.
Consequences: Lower back, knee and shoulder strain.
- Bend at your waist, and engage your core at all times to maintain a tight and flat back. Keep your arms loose.
- Power the upward swing through your hips to about shoulder height. Ensure your arms are not doing the lifting. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement.
- Let the momentum bring your arms down to between your legs.
Common mistakes: You’re supposed to bend at the waist instead of squat. Also, don’t use your arms and shoulders to swing the kettlebell; you can tell if you do so when the kettlebell hangs down at the top of the movement.
Consequences: Arm and shoulder strain.
- Get down on all fours, placing your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Straighten your arms and legs.
- Bend your elbows to lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor. Pause, then push yourself back up.
Common mistakes: Get the start position right by not rounding your back. Keep your back tight by pulling back the shoulders. Also, don’t relax your back and flare out the elbows; instead, keep the elbows pointed at about 45 degrees.
Consequences: Shoulder joint stress.
Source: CNA Lifestyle