10 Fitness Mistakes and How to Fix Them

I hear of other fitness professionals walking through a gym noticing hundreds of “mistakes” within a matter of minutes. If they are true professionals there is no semblance of “high and mighty,” but instead a simple critique of the craft. Almost a voice inside screaming to the guy at the squat rack to actually squat! Bouncing 300 pounds up and down is cool if you like walking at a 45 degree angle for the next few days. These individuals have actually inspired me though to stop screaming to myself and do something about it.
I have started to compile A LIST. A list that I hope will grow in the years to come. At its core this is a collection of simple “mistakes” that I believe have simple solutions. Changing these simple actions, or lack thereof, can yield huge results and improve your entire workout experience. There is no order. Just take away the pieces that may help you!

1. NOT GETTING BELOW PARALLEL WHEN SQUATTING
  • Why is this bad?
    • In short, a partial squat places lots of stress on the quadriceps and the tibias. It also fails to engage the hamstrings and adductors.
  • The fix
    • If you’re one of these people and your hip crease is not getting below your knee, then start by setting a target; med ball, box, your dog!? Just make sure that this target forces you to get below parallel! With a correct form squat, that reaches below parallel, you’ll bring all the major leg muscles (quads, glutes, hamstrings, adductors) into play and be well on your way to building the lower body you want! If your fexibility is holding you back, work on building flexibility and mobility in your hamstrings, ankles, calves and low back.
2. ROUNDED LOWER BACK WHILE DEADLIFTING
  • Why is this bad?
    • Rounding of the upper back is safe, however, rounding of the lower back is awful! This makes your spine very vulnerable and unprotected. With your lower back not locked in a ton of stress is being put directly on the spine and puts you at risk for a hernia or other forms of injury.
  • The fix
    • Start by arching your low back and pushing your butt out, feel this position and the tightness in your low back. With your low back set and your hands on the bar, make sure that you puff your chest out, if someone is standing in front of you they should be able to see whats written on your t shirt. Retract your scapulas at the sametime and this will ensure a neutral protected spine. When you begin your lift, do not lock the knees out too soon, it will put most of the weight on your back. Just open your knee angle enough to get the bar past and you’ll be fine. Lastly, strengthen your low back with other movements!
3. NOT HAVING A POSTWORKOUT PROTEIN SHAKE
  • Why is this bad?
    • Missing a post workout protein shake isn’t the end of the world but its definitely something that can slow your progress. After beating your muscles down for 45 straight minutes, they need the proper nutrition to recover and grow bigger! A protein shake will provide your body with amino acids; building blocks essential for rebuilding muscles.
  • The fix
    • Start by finding yourself an organic, grassfed derived whey protein. Once you have that, I’d purchase a shaker bottle, they’re around $8 online or at some grocery stores. This will allow you to pre-make your shake and have it within 30 minutes of completing your session. Having it in this time period is good because your circulation is optimal and bloodflow is bringing high amounts of nutrients to the areas that need it.
4. NOT WARMING UP OR WARMING UP IMPROPERLY
  • Why is this bad?
    • Skipping a warm up or engaging in static stretching before a training session can increase the risk of injury and reduce your explosiveness.
  • The fix
    • In my past post we covered why warming up is so important and that the correct type is one that is active/dynamic. Do movements that help you build up a sweat so that your muscles are warm and ready to go. If your gym does not provide a pre-workout mobility/warmup routine then find one or shoot me an email!
5. LIFTING IN RUNNING SHOES
  • Why is this bad?
    • Lifting in running shoes is a poor choice because the base of the shoe provides an unstable surface. The bottoms of running shoes are usually compressive and the thickness from front to back is not the same most of the time. This creates an inconsistent transmission of force from the weight, through the body and to the floor. The scenario increases risk of injury and makes it more difficult to perform lifts correctly.
  • The fix
    • If you’re not the type of person that would like to lift in your socks or your gym won’t allow it. Then find a pair of minimalist, flat soled shoes. Reebok, Inov-8 and New Balance all make great minimalist shoes. If you’re strapped for cash, Converse Sneakers are a great option, the sole is completely flat and solid!
6. KNEES DRIVING INWARD WHILE EXERCISING (SQUATS,DEADLIFTS,BOX JUMPS)
  • Why is this bad?
    • If done consistently this can put a great deal of stress on the hips and the knees. Particularly with the knees, this inward motion puts wear and tear on the ligaments, making them weak and predisposed to injury. Biomechanically it is not a sound position to generate power, explosiveness and strength.
  • The fix
    • Start by working on driving the knees out when warming up. Tilt your toes out slightly (30 degrees) like they should always be in a correct squat stance and work on trying to push the floor apart with your feet. Force the knees out and make sure they are tracking over the toes. Maybe also think about peeling back the weight or dumbing down your movements a little so you can build this correct form.
7. NOT LETTING THE ELBOWS FULLY EXTEND AT THE BOTTOM OFCHIN UPS/PULL UPS
  • Why is this bad?
    • You’re not working the muscle through its full range of motion. It’s important to do this so that the muscle can apply maximum power and force in multiple positions. You will always get stronger, faster performing full range of motion reps.
  • The fix
    • If you are not strong enough to reach full depth then have the good sense to use help. Hang a band from the pull up bar and loop the other end around one knee. Use this method and as you hit the prescribed reps, decrease the resistance of the band until you don’t need it. On the other hand, if you can do a few but tend to fizzle out, work with different sets and rep ranges and slowly build your strength up.
8. USING THE SAME WEIGHT EACH WEEK
  • Why is this bad?
    • It’s simple, your body is smart! It adapts to stressors quickly and if you do not change these stressors, your body will stay the same.
  • The fix
    • Lift using the method of progressive overload. This means to continue to add weight, reps, sets to your exercises. You want to continually break down your muscles a little more each time, so that they build up stronger and bigger!
9. LETTING YOUR TRAINING SESSION RUN LONGER THAN 60 MINUTES
  • Why is this bad?
    • When you start training, your body will increase blood flow to the working muscles and increase the circulation of anabolic hormones (testosterone, growth hormone). Towards the end of this 60 minute block, these hormones will come back down to baseline and a catabolic hormone termed cortisol will increase. Cortisol breaks down muscle and thats something we don’t want!
  • The fix
    • Spend as little time training in the gym as you can. Get in, do your work correctly and get on to recovery and mobility. Leave the phone alone, keep chatting to a minimum and focus in for 45 – 60 minutes.
10. NOT HAVING A TRAINING JOURNAL
  • Why is this bad?
    • If you’re not writing down what you’ve done in the gym, how do you know what type of progress your making. It’s easier to add weight and make increases if you know what you’ve been doing during your sessions in the past weeks and even months. I have training journals dating back to when I was in high school! It’s interesting to be able to see what you’ve been doing and what has work or what hasn’t worked.
  • The fix
    • Keep it simple, just go to Target and pick up a notebook and start writing down what you do from session to session. Soon it’ll become a habit and be part of your everyday routine. This is a great way to increase progress and start reaching your goals!

– Brig Van Etten CSCS –

http://brighamvanetten.blogspot.com/