It’s September and the queue for Slimming Clubs is out the door and round the corner as Mum’s get their kids back to school and promise themselves a new slim & trim body in time for Christmas.
But some of you find that the walking simply isn’t enough, that the weather is getting worse and it’s now time to take the exercise indoors. You’re out doing the weekly shop and walk by a DVD stand with some “celebrity” on the front promising a flat stomach and fat burn after trying out the DVD. Or you’re on the app store and decide to download a free exercise planner.
Before I continue, if you have had some personal coaching on proper exercise form and technique and your coach has specifically told you you’re good to go then you don’t need to read this.
Everyone else, read on.
First of all if you’re not executing proper form and technique then you are just wasting your time. It doesn’t matter what instructions you get either in the DVD, the App or Blogsite and I know that YOU think you’re following them, but you can’t really tell unless you’re either sitting in front of a mirror so you can recreate the EXACT image of the exercise described or you don’t have someone to correct your form for you.
You’re wasting your time because 1. you will not receive the full benefits of the exercise, target the specific muscle groups or achieve the desired training effect and 2. you are at a higher risk of injury if you don’t do the exercise properly!! I don’t care if you get tired, laziness and ignorance cause injuries and with your workout you shouldn’t take things in half measures.
Also, unless you have amazing willpower and determination, it can be very difficult to motivate yourself to keep up the hard work… I for one love watching workout videos whilst scoffing a packet of cheese and onion, the girl says “keep going!” and I’m like “pass the diet coke please”.
Anyway, here are some prime examples of common exercises you might find in these “at home workouts” and mistakes clients can make.
Yes girls, we’re weaklings to start and it can be difficult building up the strength in our arms first before we even start to feel that chest fire up in push ups. Beginners usually start on their knees and bend their elbows to lower their chest to the floor. The problem is they usually leave the bum behind, so it’s very possible to give the floor a good smooch again and again without feeling any resistance on the muscles. When this doesn’t work, clients then try the standard position on their toes, but instead of bending their elbows to lower the body to the floor, the hips dip instead… so basically you look like you’re dry humping the floor.
Correction: On the knees, roll forward on the knees so you have some of your body weight on your wrists. Squeeze the bum muscles to help you lower the entire upper body to the floor rather than just the boobs. When you feel the shakes in your arms and your chest, you know it’s working, no matter how low you go.
On the toes, same thing applies, squeeze both the bum muscles and the abs so you have a solid plank position and bend your elbows so your whole body dips to the floor rather than just the hips! Again if you’re not shaking, it’s not working.
“Squat like Channing Tatum is behind you”… or any fine specimen. Squat depth can vary from person to person depending on flexibility. Some clients don’t push their hips back at all, which can be damaging to the knees unless you’re doing a proper ballet squat (knees over toes). Some clients also lean their upper body too far forward, which can actually put more stress on your back instead of your legs and bum, and this is quite dangerous if you’re carrying any weights for the exercise. Some clients just don’t bend the knees at all, or barely bend them… which means you’re not going to hit ALL the muscles that the exercise is for and rather than get a lovely pert bum and thighs, you’re just going to flare the tops of the thighs, one quad muscle (rec fem) instead of the four of them.
Correction: Stand side on in front of the mirror. Push the hips back and squat down as low as you can comfortably go while your heels stay firmly planted into the ground. To keep your top half somewhat upright and ensure the weight goes through the legs and glutes, make sure your shoulders (or the bar) are in line with your heels, if you lean anymore forward then your back will bear some (if not all) of the weight. Be careful of your knees rolling in, if that happens then take a rest or reduce squat depth until you get stronger in the knees.
Lunges are an excellent alternative when you’re just not getting that kick you need from bodyweight squats. However, it’s a common mistake for clients to lean forward on the front leg, rather than distributing the upperbody weight between the legs. Leaning forward again puts unnecessary pressure on the back.
Correction: If you’re a bit wobbly while lunging, take a longer stride for better balance. Try and keep your knees at 90 degree angles between the thigh and calf on both legs, lower the back knee as close to the floor as possible, not over extending the back leg… it’ll put an extra stretch and stress on your hip muscle if you do that.
Bent Over Rows
Rows are fantastic for building strength in your mid back, however clients commonly round the back and the shoulders, thus making the exercise worthless, and they in turn look like Quasimodo!
Correction: Stand hip width apart, hinge forward from the hips trying to get your chest parallel to the floor. Soften your knees to ease stress on them. Then look side on in the mirror, rotate your pelvis (stick your bum out) and push the chest forward (stick your boobs out) so you could easily balance a tray of glasses on your back between the shoulders and the tailbone. When you’re rowing, keep the elbows in tight so you can squeeze the shoulder blades together. It may feel like you’re over arching the lower back at first, but once you get into those rows you’ll soon feel those wings fire up!
I hope these tips will help you utilise the precious time you have, however I would always encourage and support live classes instead of those commercial non personal workouts. Classes can have a great atmosphere, they’re more social and if you’re having problems the instructor can offer a totally alternate exercise to help you.
Even in a live class with the instructor in front, if they’re explaining how to jump like a Gazelle and you still jump around like a Walrus then it’s not your fault. It’s not the instructor’s fault either, unless they are not correcting you. And if you’re finding you’re getting more than your fair share of corrections, consider booking a one on one session with the trainer just to iron things out and make sure that you’re getting into peak physique!!
Be Well xx