Hi Friends of Oompf, this is Alvan.
Today I will be talking about the 2 most common exercises that you might try at home, possible mistakes you may be making and how you can improve your form.
The Squat is the most common lower body exercise which mainly targets the thighs and the glutes. However, core strength, stability, ankle mobility, back muscles, calves, and other factors play an important role when you are doing this exercise.
How to squat
- Stand with your chest held up, and your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider.
- Sit back and down like you’re sitting onto an imaginary chair. Keep your head facing forward as your upper body bends a little forward. Arch your lower back slightly to maintain a neutral back position.
- Lower down so your thighs are as parallel to the floor as possible, with your knees over your ankles. Put your weight back into your heels.
- Keep your body tight, and push through your heels to bring yourself back to the starting position.
1. Initial Knee Bending
Very often the first thing people do when they want to squat is bend the knees. This places a lot of unnecessary stress on the knees.
Solution: When you start the squat, think “sit back” not “bend at the knees”. Move your butt backwards as you descend and feel the weight shifting to your heels.
2. Caving Knees (going inwards)
You might notice your knees “caving in” the deeper you squat. This might help you get lower, but it puts too much stress on your knees.
Solution: As you descend, try to push your knees slightly outward. Your knee caps should be facing the same direction as your toes and not bending in. They should be directly above your feet.
3. Back Hunching
Many work environments cause tension in the upper back and shoulders, thus people tend to round their backs when squatting. Becoming aware of your posture can help you change this.
Solution: Look straight ahead and think about opening your chest and relax your shoulders. If they fall toward your knees as you squat down, that means that your back is rounded. A dumb bell held against your chest may help in correcting the posture too. If the weight goes too far away from your body as you squat, it is an indicator of leaning forward too much.
4. Heels lifting off
Stiff ankles may be interfering with your range of motion when squatting. This factor comes into play when you’re at the bottom of your squat, causing your heels to lift off the ground.
Solution: Work on your ankle mobility by doing ankle mobility exercises which will create a greater awareness of what your ankles can do.
Plank is the most common core exercise in any core routine. When it is done the right way, plank exercises not only fire up your core, but the muscles in your shoulders and legs, too. Furthermore, planks can help you build strength and endurance. With that said, there are common mistakes and, if done incorrectly, you risk low back injury.
How to (Elbow plank):
1. Lie down on your stomach and place your elbows about shoulder width apart from each other.
2. Forearms should be straight facing forward and palms should be flat on the ground.
3. Ensure your elbows on the ground directly underneath your shoulders with your feet hip-width apart.
4. Raise your body up by driving your elbows into the floor.
5. Make sure your back is flat and your head and neck are in a neutral position while squeezing your quads, glutes and core.
6.Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Do not hold your breath.
1. Collapsing of lower back
The lower back tends to collapse or cave in when doing the plank because the core is not engaged at all.
Solution: Engage your core by imagining your belly button pulling in toward your spine. This will help keep your torso flat and, in turn, your spine safe.
2. Incorrect butt position (and lack of activation)
Your butt should not be sticking up too high. It also shows that you are not activating or “squeezing” your glutes.
Solution: Keep your back flat enough so your abs feel engaged from below your sternum to below your belly button. Clench your butt cheeks together once you get into a straight body position. Having said that, do not dip your hips too low towards the floor as well.
3. Incorrect head position
Lifting your head too far back looking up at the ceiling or straight ahead. This can put a strain on your neck, and as a result, the rest of your form will fall apart.
Solution: Keep your eyes looking down at the floor or mat so your head and neck are in alignment with the rest of your body.
A common mistake is to forget to breathe when exercising especially as the difficulty in maintaining a perfect plank position increases over time. In addition, forgetting to breathe can cause dizziness, nausea and tension in the neck.
Solution: Take slow, controlled and deep breaths. This will make planking a little more bearable and will help you keep the pose longer!
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