Improve your Technique: 4 Simple Home Exercises Corrected

Today we are going through a more visual blog for everyone showing how sublte changes to your form can affect the results you may get from your exercise routine. The focus is on the 4 easiest exercises to complete at home, and these are commony used at the gym too. With good form you will be able to maximise your results.

Sit Up

The classic sit up with the knees bent, still being taught in gyms around the country. This should have been stopped years ago as the minute you lift your low back off the floor you are not engaging your abdominals any further but powering through your hip flexors. If your abdominals are weak then you are not able to hold the trunk effectively and will place a huge amount of stress on your low back as you move towards the finishing positioning shown above here. Stop these immediately as you are not targeting your abdominals and could be creating new issues.

If you are starting out on your fitness drive and need to build some strength then The Abdominal Curl is a great place to start. By keeping your back on the ground you are focusing on your Obliques (the key stability muscle in your tummy) and you will be avoiding injury or loading of your back region. Go slow and hold at the top for 3 seconds on each rep complete 3-4 sets of about 30 seconds work. Your abdominals should feel tired at the end!

My favorite and your goal is to complete the Pilates Roll Up, with your knees starting straight your focus is on the deeper core as you bring your arms above your face, tuck your chin in and roll each vertebrae up off the floor one at a time and keep drawing your abdominals in as you move through towards your feet. Then initiate the return by drawing your abdominals in towards your back and relaying your spine one at a time back on the ground. Yours knees can soften as you curl through and this should flow once you are strong enough. x2-3 sets of about 60 seconds work.

Lunge

Unfortunately many of us now spend most of our days sitting at desks. This affects our movement patterns and so often we see lunges completed like this in the gym, which do have there purpose however are very quad dominant as the weight is driven forwards over the front foot and into the forefoot. It is efficent for us to use our quads to help as our gluts have lengthened and are inefficient for our inner range, however this will further restrict our hip range and increase loading in this region while also stressing the front of the knee and anterior ankle joints too.

So we suggest you use the mirrors at home or in the gym to get the positioning right. Make sure your weight is into the heel of the front leg and your movement pattern is in a lowering direction rather than a forward direction. This will engage your gluts more, yes you will still feel your quds working but it will be different. As you can see to help with this we have moved to barefoot allowing us to negate the forward inlcine that most trainers have nowdays which leads to increased loading of the forefoot and prevents us from staying in the heel. Get wise on your lunging and to maximise the results make sure your front knee does not drop across the midline!

Press Up

All to often I see people powering through their planks in this way, essentially in a locked and loaded low back position. You can hold it for hours but are you actually imrpving your core strength – not really as your muscles are not doing the work, most of the energy used is in your arms. If you take that a step further into a press up you will find the positon remains and the stress on your back increases with each rep, as the abdominals are switched off your arms will lift your upper body first and when you back hits end range it will follow. Please also note the pinching in the scapular region as the control through here is also lost – to have great scapular control you need a strong core, so maybe start holding your plank correctly and then lowering to Yoga Blocks until you are strong enough to go lower.

Lovely and how it should look – strong core, good head positon, hands under the shoulders. As you lower down the positon is maintained, with the elbows at about 45 degrees – wider is more pectoral dominant and narrow is more tricep dominant – so middle is a good allround place to be, with the abdminals remainging strong throughout the movement phase. Work on what you can control but aim to buidl towards 4 sets of 30 seconds of work.

Squat

One of the easiest exercises to complete at home or in the gym. Again the start position is so important. You need to be barefoot again to be in the right loading position, as above modern shoes tip your weight forwards and you end up loading through your forefoot. Shoulders above hips and hips through with a strong core to begin.

But as you can see here, and will commonly see the loading goes wrong as the movement occurs. Why? It is all about movement patterns and mobility. With tight quads, poor movement patterns your body will adapt. In this case the knee drives forwards loading the kneecap, the foot turns out to allow more range loading both the front of the ankle and the plantar fascia region and although the back is straight the body is tipping further forwards. At first glance this might look good but aside from the strong back position almost everything else is taking stress that can increase injury risk.

In this case to help hold better form we have made two simple changes. Firstly we have added blocks under the heels, even books at home would work, and reduced the range of the squat until the movement patterns improve. This has kept the person more upright, allowed them to sit back into the squat keeping the laod through the heels and avoiding unnecessary foot turn out. Complete 3 sets of body weight squats with increasing range will help on many levels. If you are really struggling then squat to a chair so you can control the range, even add a yoga block onto that so you can maintain the form.

The main message is clear – How you actually move and how you think you move are generally quite different so use the mirrors at home or in the gym to hlep your form.

Build Better Movement Patterns