I’m approaching a decade of working out in commercial gyms, it’s safe to say I’ve seen some horribly performed exercises over the years.
The biggest mistake I see people making in the gym is poor execution of exercises.
They don’t take the time and put the effort into learning the movement patterns and how to activate the right muscles.
This means they don’t get the most benefit from their workouts.
You can have the best workout plan in the world but if you can’t execute the exercises properly, it’s worthless.
Below we will cover some of the most common exercises I see being done incorrectly in the gym;

  • Push up
  • Plank
  • Single arm DB row
  • Romanian Deadlifts
  • Goblet Squats
  • Lateral raises

First up – THE PUSH UP.
Common mistakes;
– Elbows flared
– Back arched
– Keep the elbows tucked in at around a 45 degree angle
– Hips up, keep your body in a straight line.
– Engage your core and glutes
– Think of keeping the body still and just moving the elbows.
– Drive your palms through the ground to get up.
– Breathe in and tighten your core at the top of the movement.

Next up – THE PLANK.
Common Mistakes;
– Holding their hands together.
– Bringing their elbows in underneath their body. This shifts more of the load away from your core and your elbows so your arms take more of the pressure.
– Hip Position. If your hips are too low (arched back), his takes tension off the core muscles and puts it onto the lower back. If your hips are too high, this takes tension off your core by bringing in the hip flexor muscles to help you out.
Corrections ;
– Keep your hands apart.
– Place elbows directly underneath your shoulders.
– Keep hips in a straight line.
– Think of actively tensing your core (bringing your belly button closer to your chest).
– Tighten the glutes at the same time to make sure your back isn’t going into hyperextension (arching).
Don’t worry about how long you can do this for. Doing this properly and actually using your core for 10 seconds is better than doing this incorrectly for 2 minutes not engaging your core. Quality beats quantity.

Common Mistakes;
– Swinging and jerking the weight up.
– Elbow flaring out
– Back rounded
– Lifting with the traps instead of the lats.
– Keep elbow tucked into your side.
– Pull through your elbow and back towards your hip.
– Keep chest up and your body & core tight.
– Think of going backwards and forwards instead of straight up and down.
– Actively think of squeezing your lats at the top and stretching them as you lower the weight.
– Create a solid base, spread yourself out before starting the lift.

Common Mistakes;
– Lifting with your lower back.
– Arching at the top.
– Leaning forward instead of pushing the hips back.
– Not keeping the upper back tight.
– Letting the bar drift away from the body.
– Chest up, keep spine neutral throughout the movement.
– Breathe in and brace your core before you go down.
– Keep the bar close to the body.
– Push the hips back first.
– Start the movement at the hips and push back.
– Keep tension on your hamstrings.
– Keep the weight in your heels.
– Think of pushing your hips back first.
– Run the bar down your legs.
– Just go down as far as you feel a stretch in your hamstrings (like it’s going to pull off the bone!).
– Hip thrust into the bar on the way up & squeeze hard at the top.


Common Mistakes;
– Breaking at the knees first
This shifts the load into the front of the foot and puts more pressure on the knee joint.
You end up falling forward and the heels can start to lift off the ground.
– Not getting your knees out
When you don’t push your knees out, you get to a point in th squat where you can’t go down any further without moving your back forward.
– Break at the hips first.
Think of pushing the hips back first to initiate the movement.
– Pushing your knees out.
Once you push your hips back, move your knees outwards to create space for you to squat down into.
– Think about keeping the weight in the mid to back of your foot.
– To get the knees out, think about spreading the floor with your feet. Put the pressure onto the outside of your feet.
– Squeeze your glutes at the top of each rep & breathe in & tighten your core.

Common mistakes;
– Using too much weight.
– Swinging 
– Using momentum
– Shrugging the weight up
– Using the traps to lift the weight

– Chest up, shoulders back, pinch shoulder blades down and back.
– Bring no higher than shoulder height.
– Start a couple of inches out from your side.
– Drop the weight down. Then drop it down again and do it properly.
– Think of lifting outwards not upwards.
– Think of having your pinky higher than your thumb at the top.
– Don’t let the weight fall down.
– Use intent, concentrate on lifting & controlling the weight through your medial delt (middle of your shoulder) and keep everything else still.

Take these tips and add them into your own workouts to improve your results.

Why not get the most benefit out of your workouts?

If you found this helpful feel free to share it with anybody else who could benefit from it.

If you would like a part 2 and have any other exercises you would like covered, let me know.

Coach Matt

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