The most common exercise mistakes – and how to avoid them

Whether you’re working to get back into bathing suit shape, trying to stave off illness, or hoping to get some great muscle tone, you’re probably going to look to exercise to help achieve your goals.

And if you’re going to put a lot of effort into your workouts, you might as well do it right, right?
Getting fit the right way

To help fitness seekers workout safely and efficiently, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) has released a list of the top three most common mistakes, and how to avoid them. T reminds enthusiasts of the importance of safety when starting a new fitness program or ramping up a workout regimen.

The most common exercise mistakes - and how to avoid them - good form“We are constantly evaluating the latest fitness trends, techniques and routines to evaluate both the benefits and dangers presented to fitness seekers,” said ACE exercise physiologist, Jessica Matthews.

“While these three training modalities are highly effective when done properly, using incorrect form can increase risk of injury. For the most effective and safe workout, we recommend enlisting the aid of a certified personal trainer, who can provide guidance on how to be safe while getting the most out of a workout.”

The following are the top three errors most commonly made with popular workout trends, along with tips from Matthews on how to correct these mistakes.

1. Plyometrics

Quick, powerful movements, known as plyometrics, include exercises such as depth jumps, multidirectional drills, and cone jumps are designed to increase muscular power and explosiveness.

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Appropriate strength, flexibility and postural mechanics are necessary in order to avoid injury. Incorrectly landing on the heel or the ball of the foot, however, can increase impacting forces and make participants prone to injury.

How to do it correctly: Master the art of landing correctly, before moving into more advanced moves like full jumps and hops. Focus on landing softly on the mid-foot and then roll forward to push off the ball of the foot – avoiding excessive side-to-side motion at the knee in the process.

To further reduce the risk of injury, it is important to complete a dynamic warmup before performing plyometric exercises.



2. Kettlebells

Research confirms that kettle bell workouts are an extremely effective  form of training that can be performed in a relatively short period of time.

The problem lies in that many people who use kettle bells do not understand the proper mechanics for the exercises. For example, many incorrectly perceive the kettlebell single arm swing as a shoulder exercise when it should be working the core.

How to do it correctly: When performing the kettlebell single arm swing, avoid lifting with the back or the shoulders. Like in many kettlebell exercises, the hips should always drive the movement exercises.

To execute this movement correctly, contract the abdominal muscles and hinge at the hips. While exhaling, initiate an explosive upward movement to swing the kettlebell upward coming to a standing position. The momentum generated through the lower body should allow the arm to become parallel with the floor with neutral alignment maintained through the wrists.

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If it is too difficult to achieve the desired arm position, attempt to generate more power from the lower body by thrusting harder with the gluteal muscles from the lowered position.

3. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT is being used by exercise enthusiasts to add new challenges and variety to workouts. It is a cardiorespiratory training technique that increases the intensity of a workout by alternating between brief speed and recovery intervals to maximize training sessions in a short amount of time. Carelessly overlooking the active recovery intervals that are integral to HIIT is what can make fitness fans more prone to injury.

How to do it correctly: While there isn’t one single best way to structure sessions, when getting started with HIIT after completing a five minute warm-up, begin with a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio of speed intervals to active recovery intervals. This means one minute of speed work to every two or three minutes of active recovery.

Avoid the temptation to shorten the recovery intervals, or to let the recovery periods be less than active. These recovery intervals are when the body produces more energy for the next bout of high-intensity exercise and also removes metabolic waste from the muscles.  Remember, active recovery periods should always be as long – if not longer – than the high-intensity intervals.

In terms of perceived exertion, high-intensity intervals should be about a seven or higher (on a scale of 0-10) while active recovery intervals should be at about a four or five.

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