7 execises you could be doing wrongly.

Posted: December 12, 2010 in Training

This time around we’re talking about poor exercise form and the common mistakes that almost everyone makes when working out. Exercises done in improper form may lead to serious injuries. Over the years I’ve seen the same exercises repeatedly performed incorrectly by a great many people. This is largely due to misunderstanding what the exercise is trying to accomplish which prevents people from feeling the movement properly. And since a lot of us “learn” new exercises from friends in the gym, the quality of what you learn is only as good as the person teaching you.

These would be some of the common exercises you could be doing wrongly. How many apply to you?


You are doing this exercise with the bar behind your head. The lateral pull down behind the head is done by pulling a weighted bar down behind your head and neck. Unless you have very mobile shoulder joints, you could be damaging the alignment of your spine when you pull the bar down or you could be putting undue strain on your shoulders, which can easily lead to injury.

Safe Alternative: Instead of pulling the bar down behind your head, try leaning back a few degrees and pulling the bar down to your breastbone by pulling your shoulder blades down and together. Contract your abdominal muscles to control your movements.


Your back is rounded when doing deadlifts. Deadlifts are the antidote to the cubicle hunch, as they strengthen the muscles along your posterior chain. But allowing your back to round under the weight you’re holding can strain your lumbar and glutes.

Safer alternative: Keep your spine in a neutral position and do not over arch your back.




Doing dumbbell lateral raises with your elbows above shoulder level. This exercise is great for strengthening and adding some shape to the side of the shoulders when done correctly, but unfortunately it’s mostly performed wrong. Doing this exercise with the elbows above the shoulder would place a lot of undue stress on the shoulder joint and could cause injury. Another good pointer is that your arms should have a 15 degree angle from the side as our arms are inserted into our shoulder joint at about 15 degrees, but this varies from people to people.




Doing a shoulder press behind the neck. Likewise to the lateral pulldown behind the neck, you could be putting undue strain on your shoulders, which can easily lead to injury.

Safer alternative: Do the shoulder presses in front of you instead.






Doing planks while your body is not in a straight line. I’ve seen a lot of people performing the plank, on their elbows and toes, with a “banana”, sunken back. This places tremendous strain on the lower back, stretches out the abs and doesn’t work the intended muscles at all. There are also people who lift the hips too high to record a better timing, thereby defeating the purpose of training the abs.

More effective alternative: Keep in mind to have your body in a straight line. Use the mirror if you have to. That’s why there are so many mirrors in the gym.

6. Doing sit-ups with your back straightened or barely contracting your abdominal muscles at all. Keeping your back straight would place a lot of stress on the back. Crunches and sit-ups are the only exercises that would need you to have a rounded back instead of a neutral one. I see a lot of people pulling their heads back and fourth looking like bobble-heads, and doing hardly anything for their abdominals. Well, probably they’re training their neck muscles?

Safer alternative: Keep your back rounded and hold the back of your ears instead of the back of the head.


Running/walking on the treadill while holding on to the handle. This is one of the most common I’ve seen. Holding on to the treadmill just makes the task easier. It’s like switching on the air-conditioner but covering yourself with a blanket. The purpose is defeated. If the speed or inclination is overwhelming, simply decrease it!




Problems Created by Holding Onto the Treadmill

1. Turns walking into “make-believe walking” and running into “fake-running”

2. Ruins posture and body alignment

3. Reduces calories burned

4. Reduces effects of incline

5. Doesn’t build balance

    More effective alternative: Let it go, let it go!

    1. HJ says:

      You stole terminology from my treadmill article, so I’ll take one of your photos (which you obviously don’t own anyways)

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