Over the years, more and more people have been going to the gym. In fact, the total membership of U.S. fitness centers increased to 60.87 million in 2017. If you’re part of this statistic, well done! But, if you’re not making a lot of progress after joining the gym, it may be due to working out with improper form. By doing particular exercises in the correct way you can be successful in training the intended muscles and, in turn, see faster results. On top of that, it can help you to avoid the risk of potentially serious injuries. Spare your spine and progress more by avoiding these top ten bad form mistakes.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get pumped!

1. Wandering Elbows

Some gym-goers may choose curl weights that are too heavy, which leads to wandering elbows. This is improper form and can cause damage to your shoulders, neck, and back. Do it correctly by keeping your elbows tucked in at all times. The same goes for when you’re on the bench press. If you point your elbows directly into the sides, you’ll put way to much pressure on your shoulder joints. Keep your elbows close to your ribcage. It will reduce the stress in your shoulder blades and it’ll be easier too!

2. Knocking Knees

Letting your knees cave in while you squat is bad squat form. This could hurt your knees and cause joint injury. Doing it wrong can also limit the strength and size you build in your legs. Though your foot position will vary depending on what your overall training goal is, make sure that your knees are tracked over your toes. This will reduce the amount of joint stress incurred.

3. Heel Striking

When running or jogging, don’t heel strike. Heel striking is when your heel is the first section of your foot that hits the ground when your running. This high impact pressure can rattle your ankles, knees, hips and cause pain to your heel. Instead, land on your midfoot or the balls of your feet. Try to strike your feet below your hips as you run. This will train your body to absorb the shock without adding stress onto your feet and leg joints.

4. Arched Reps

Hunching or arching your back is bad deadlift form. It can damage your discs, the surrounding nerves and basically your entire spine. It’s also ineffective as it can limit the amount of weight you can lift, leading to fewer gains. Before starting each rep, keep your back flat, squeeze in your abs and draw your shoulders down.

5. Stretchy Necks

Straining your neck can tighten your body in so many ways. Just looking the wrong way while doing an exercise can cause strain on your cervical spine. For instance, when doing pull-ups don’t be tempted to stretch your neck to reach the bar. Even if you reach the bar this way you won’t be exercising the right muscles, and you could be left with neck injuries. Start from a dead hang and use your core to raise your body, not your neck. The same applies to sit-ups. Straining your neck to rise to a sitting position will leave you with no results and a pain in the neck. Engage your core muscles to lift your torso, touch your ears and head but don’t pull them.

6. Raised Bottoms

We’ve all been there, trying to plank with our bottom raised in the air or by letting our floppy body hang from the shoulders. This is improper form when performing the plank. It can actually cause muscles and tissues from all over your body to become pinched, causing joint injuries. To perfect the plank, your body needs to form a straight line from head to heel. While keeping your shoulder blades pulled down, make sure your head, neck, hips, spine, and legs are in one straight line.

7. Noodle Legs

When you’re working out in the gym, you’ve no doubt seen guys bench press…badly! Sometimes they get stuck and start flailing their legs all over the place. This not only wastes their energy but can be damaging to their back. It’s also proof that they weren’t in the right position, to begin with. Before you bench press, push your feet hard into the ground while keeping your butt firmly on the bench. This will tighten and strengthen your lower-body muscles without adding strain onto your back.

8. Poor Posture

Good posture is important in your everyday life, but especially so when exercising. For instance when you’re on an elliptical. Don’t hunch forward, keep your shoulders back and your spine neutral. Use your upper body muscles to pull onto the handlebars, don’t grab onto them for support.

9. Hanging Around

Pull-ups often lead to dangling legs and a swinging body. If you swing your way up to the bar you’ll not only be relying on momentum instead of muscle power, you’ll also jolt your shoulders which can be very risky. Keep your torso straight with your legs 10 degrees in front of your body. Keep your knees straight and clench your muscles so that your body becomes rigid. The key to doing it correctly is by staying in full control.

10. Silly Set-Ups

One of the worst mistakes gym-goers make is by not adjusting the equipment to the right height or level. For instance the seat height for a cycle. Sit in the saddle and place one foot at the lowest point of the downstroke. Maneuver the seat so that your knee is only bent slightly. This will ensure that you don’t overstretch or hunch down. It’s also true with weight machines. Follow the instructions to change the settings. Make sure its set up to fit your unique build and height before you try anything. This will help you to lift the weights in good form and avoid injuries.

Forget Bad Form — Get Ripped Instead!

As you can see, although exercise is really good for you, working out with bad form can do more damage than good. And even if you manage to save yourself from injury, poor form will make your progress painfully slow. If you’ve injured yourself when working out, don’t push it — get some help. We at Omega Rehab and Sport have a team of experts who can treat your injury and get you back on your feet. Read about our services here.