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Workout Form Hacks that Improve Results

Workout Form Hacks that Improve Results

Deploy these simple & smart techniques to improve your workout.

As you go about your workout program, one thing that you must be paying attention to at all times is the form that you’re using. If you aren’t using proper form, you aren’t going to see the results you’re after; this is because you won’t be stressing the muscles in the way an exercise is supposed to be performed.

Worse yet, many people who use improper form are going to be set themselves up for injuries, which is yet another reason why maintaining perfect form is a must. All it takes is moving out of alignment just slightly for severe pain to become a problem.

To help you make sure you are using nothing but the best of form, let’s go over a few common mistakes that you should be avoiding as you perform these popular workouts.

1. Foot Placement During The Squat

Squat Workout Mistake

    The very first thing that you need to be thinking about when performing a squat exercise is your foot placement. The standard squat will have your toes pointing forward, which is great for targeting the quads and hamstrings.

    It’s important as you move through the exercise that your knees align directly over the toes.

    If you let your toes move inward at all, it will instantly put far more stress on the knee joint and potentially cause you to risk serious knee pain.

    Alternatively, one quick and easy way to change around this exercise is to have your feet facing slightly outward.

    This will help target the inner and outer thighs to a slightly larger extent as well, which will then add more variety to your workout program and help to beat a progress plateau.

    Adding this one simple change from time to time can be an effective way to improve your squat.

    2. Back Placement During The Shoulder Press

    Shoulder Press Mistake

      The second form issue to be aware of is your back placement when doing the shoulder press. Many people either accidentally or unconsciously start to develop a sway-back as they perform this exercise, which is then going to cause a high amount of stress on the lower back vertebra.

      With all that weight overhead coming down directly on that lower back, you can quickly imagine the tension that could develop.

      By thinking of squeezing the glutes as well as the abs as you perform this exercise, you will help to maintain far better back alignment. By keeping good back position, you can also help to increase the total amount of weight that you drive upwards, making the exercise more effective.

      The same rules should be applied when doing lateral raises as well as bicep curls, as those are two other exercises that do cause some people to move out of proper back alignment.

      3. Bench Height During The Step Up

      Step Up Exercise

        The next form check that you’ll want to do for yourself is to think about the height of the bench you use during the step-up. If you use a lower bench while doing the step-up, then you’ll be targeting the quads to a larger extent, while if you use a higher bench while doing the movement, you’ll hit the hamstrings.

        The quads will definitely still get activated regardless of whatever step height you utilize, but with the higher the step, the more hamstring activation will be required simply to perform the exercise.

        The same principle also applies when doing the split squat.

        With the step up, the further you step away from the bench, the more hamstring dominant the exercise becomes over just working the quads.

        Both muscles will be worked regardless of what height the step is or how far away from the bench you’re targeting, but it’s the nature of the stress that’s going to differ.

        With this one simple change in how you perform the exercise, you can really change the nature of the stress on the muscle tissues. It’s another excellent way to change up your workout from time to time and ensure that you don’t hit a progress plateau.

        4. Hand Position During The Push-Up

        pushup technique

          Finally, the last of the form checks to look at while going about your workout is with regards to the hand position that you use during the push-up exercise.

          Many people just start off into normal style push-ups, without thinking about the fact that how they position their hands will influence the type of results they get from that push-up.

          If you use a wider than normal hand placement position, you’re going to be targeting the outer chest muscles to a larger degree and may also get a bit of upper back activation as well.

          On the other hand, if you place the hands close together, forming a triangle almost with their positioning, then you’re going to be targeting the triceps to a much higher extent instead.

          You’ll instantly feel the difference in stress loading patterns when making this switch, so don’t be surprised if you do find that you are much weaker when in the triangle hand position.

          The chest muscles will be much less dominant, which are the primary force developers in the push-up exercise, which is why you feel so much weaker overall when performing it.

          With the push-up, you can also use a staggered hand placement approach where one hand is placed higher or lower than the other and you perform the push-up from there. This will get the core activated more as well, really giving a unique twist to the push-up exercise overall.

          So there you have some important form placement hacks to consider as you go about your workout. By having a look at these tehniques, you can both reduce your chances of suffering from an injury as well as increase the results that you get from your time invested in the gym.

          Small changes do make a difference, so don’t overlook them.

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          Last Updated on August 15, 2018

          7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

          7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

          Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

          Video Summary

          Why is it important to train up our core strength?

          There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

          This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

          Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

          In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

          One Exercise, multiple benefits

          There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

          By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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          When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

          Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

          In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

          What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

          What will happen when you start doing planks every day

            1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

            Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

            • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
            • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
            • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
            • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

            2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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              Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

              Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

              3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

                Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

                4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

                  Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

                  A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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                  A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

                  On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

                  5. You’ll improve overall balance

                    Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

                    6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                      Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                      7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                        Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                        How to hold a plank position

                        1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                        2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                        3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                        4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                        5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                        6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                        7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                        Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                        Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                          How to improve your plank time gradually

                          1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                          2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                          3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                          Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                          Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                          You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                          • Prolapse
                          • After prolapse surgery
                          • Pelvic pain conditions
                          • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                          • Previous childbirth
                          • Overweight

                          Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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