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Check yourself, before you wreck yourself

Steve October 27, 2012

Do your workouts include LUNGES, ROWS or PLANKS?  For many of you the answer is probably yes; after all they are fantastic exercises for working your legs, back and core.  The question remains, are you certain that you are performing these exercises correctly?  During our years of professional experience, we as a Fitastic Personal Training team have noticed that these three exercises are often done incorrectly.  Here is our advice about the common mistakes to be aware of when you do lunges, rows and planks, and how to properly perform them.


Q: What should people be aware of when doing LUNGES?                      

A: Lunges are a great lower body exercise when done correctly.  That being said, there are risks associated to performing the exercise incorrectly.

Mistake #1Letting the knee of your front leg travel forward when you are doing a lunge is a common mistake that you might not be aware of.

Correction#1 – Control your motion and the location of your knee. When you’re performing a lung, your knee needs to stay directly over your ankle, and remember to keep most of the weight of your front foot on your heel, not your toes.

Mistake #2 – Leaning forward when you step into your lunge.

Correction #2 – Your core—which includes your abs and back muscles—should be tight during your lunge; this keeps your torso upright. Also, it allows you to better engage your glutes during the exercise, which helps you to maintain your stability and balance.

Doing a LUNGE properly allows you to more effectively engage your leg and butt muscles, and it helps to prevent injuring yourself during the exercise


Q: What mistakes are people making when it comes to strengthening and defining their back muscles with ROW exercises?

A: Rows are great exercises to strengthen the back, but they won’t work if you’re doing them incorrectly.

Mistake #1 – Rounding your shoulders or letting them pull forward.

Correction #1 – When performing a row, pull-back your shoulders and sit up straight if you are doing a seated row. Also, keep your shoulders down—don’t let them scrunch up toward your ears— this will help you to correctly engage your back muscles.

Mistake #2 – Pulling with your arms instead of using your back muscles.

When the back muscles are weak, which is typical if you have poor posture, you’re likely to recruit your biceps to perform the exercise without even realizing it. This is good for the biceps but not so good for the back.

Correction #2 – The movement should be initiated by squeezing your back muscles together and then pulling through the elbows, not the hands. If your arms fatigue and you feel nothing in your back, then you are pulling with your arms. Concentrate on using your back muscles, and make sure you feel your back become increasingly fatigued as you complete the exercise.

Mistake #3 – Rounding your lower back.

This applies to bent over and dumbbell rows, or when you let your body move forward with the weight during a seated machine or cable row.

Correction #3 – In order to work your back properly, you must have a neutral spine in your lower back. To accomplish this, keep your back as straight as possible and don’t let your upper body move at the waist once you are in position.

A ROWING exercise is great for correcting poor posture, but you can actually reinforce poor posture if you are doing the exercise incorrectly.



Q: A PLANK is an isometric exercise that involves holding a position, not a movement exercise like ROWS and LUNGES. It might be surprising to a lot of people that they can mess up while doing this exercise.  What do you see people doing wrong when they perform a PLANK, and how can they do a PLANK correctly?

A: When done properly, your trunk should be doing most of the work and you should have minimal fatigue in your arms.

Mistake #1 - Sagging your lower back.

A proper plank requires you to be as flat as a board.  It is when fatigue sets in that your low back begins to sag.  This takes away the emphasis from your abs and it can cause back pain.

Correction #1 – When getting into position, slightly tilt your pelvis posteriorly—to accomplish this you can pull-in and tighten your abs while you clench your glutes and hamstrings at the same time—this will help you to lock  into the correct position.

Mistake #2 - Your upper-back is rounded.

Many people start the exercise with a rounded upper-back, https://feelfitastic.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpwhich is not correct.  Others often struggle to hold the position—most people can’t hold a plank very long because their upper body gets too tired and they lose proper form–and as a result they round out their upper-back.

Correction #2 – When getting into the plank position, make sure your upper back is not rounded; your shoulder blades should be pulled back and down as if you were standing.  You must hold this position for the entire exercise.  If you can only hold the position for a short amount of time, take a short break and begin the exercise again in proper form.  Over time your strength and endurance will increase allowing you to hold the plank longer and longer.

Planks are an excellent exercise for your core muscles and engage your entire body; however all of your core muscles must be functioning properly and working together to achieve the full benefits from doing a PLANK.


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2 Responses to “Check yourself, before you wreck yourself”

  1. johnrork says:

    Hello, world, here’s the first Fitastic comment!

  2. administrator says:

    Lunges are a great lower body exercise when done correctly.