Starting to exercise regularly for the first time can be intimidating, especially if you’re joining a new gym by yourself. It’s okay not to be an expert in health and fitness, but you can do damage to your body if your posture is wrong. Express.co.uk chatted to Jason Bone, Head of Strength at FLEX Chelsea and Hollie Grant, Founder of Pilates PT (@thepilatespt on Instagram) to find out the top six mistakes people make in the gym and how to correct them.
Heels rising in a squat
One big mistake gym newbies make is allowing their heels to rise while they’re squatting, with weight or without.
Jason said: “Try to keep the weight on your heels as best you can.
“Sometimes your hips might be too tight to be able to get low in a squat so work on your hip mobility and stretch out your hip flexors and glutes.
Weight on the front of the foot in a lunge
If you’ve spotted that you put your weight on the front of your foot when lunging, you need to fix it.
Jason said: “There is a tendency to push off your toes in a lunge, but this will engage your quads more than your post chain.
“Start with a static lunge and concentrate on push up from your heel.”
Using their neck muscles to sit up
Remember – a sit-up is for your abs, not your neck!
Jason said: “Think about the contraction of your abs, start with slow and controlled movements and keep your eyes on the ceiling.
“It’s not about coming all the way up, it’s about the ability to keep the contraction in your abs.”
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Forgetting your spine health
When performing heavy lifts such as deadlifts, squats, and lunges you need to keep an eye on your spine.
Hollie explained: “Big compound movements are actually really technical and tricky to master.
“However, because they are well-known, many beginners head to the gym, load themselves up with barbells or dumbbells, and get cracking into these moves.
“Whilst I actively want people to get stronger and fitter, and of course try these moves, we must ensure they are performed well first and foremost.”
The main reason you need to practise these exercises is to “ensure the correct muscles are used” and to make sure “the dominant muscles don’t take over”.
Practising will ensure you are safe and don’t injure yourself.
“If you imagine the distance between the hip bones and lowest rib, that shouldn’t change as you hinge at the hip. If that distance grows there is a chance you are heading towards lumbar extension (a backbend essentially).
“That can aggravate the lower back muscles. If the distance shortens, you’ll be in lumbar flexion and tucking under.”
You can watch videos or tutorials about these moves online so you know what your technique should look like – but make sure they are made by trained fitness and health professionals.
On top of that, use the mirrors in the gym to help your technique by looking at your form and comparing it to what you have seen online.
Hollie recommends mastering the technique before you start adding on weight.