Can you do the basics right?
Written by Joe Connor
BHMSc, MES, AEP
Acredited Exercise Physiologist
The most common and frequently used body weight exercises you will see in a gym, boot-camp or other fitness class is a squat, a lunge and a push up. And rarely do you see them all done correctly. These are basic movements that we should be able to do without too much trouble but due to the very sedentary nature of our lives we have lost the ability to do so.
The most common squat I see people do is feet pointing straight ahead, knees bend to about just more than 45 degrees pointing over your toes, and your bent forward at the hips so your chest is pointing at the ground with a rounded back. That isn’t a squat!
A squat should see you get your hips at or below the level of your knee. Your chest should be up, spine straight, toes pointed slightly out with feet wider than hips and no more than shoulder width, and the knees coming outward slightly to open the hips.
If you don’t think your body is capable of getting in to this position here’s a little test. Hold on to a post or door jam with feet apart slightly pointed out and squat down keeping back upright and heels on the ground. Squat as low as you can get. If you don’t get your bum below knee level then you may have some serious knee or hip issues you need to get looked at.
The problem I see with the lunge is lack of depth with the decent due to possibly low quad and hamstring strength or co-contraction, the collapsing or twisting at the hips due to lack of abdominal and glute strength along with torso bending forward. Another thing I see is the back foot being really bent under like a calf stretch.
The lunge should have your front leg bend at the knee to 90 degrees with the knee not really going past the toe. Your hips should stay level throughout the movement. Your torso should stay upright and pointing forward with the same line as hips. The back foot should be in line with the hip of the same side and you should be positioned up on the forefoot. The weight on the front foot should be directed more to the heel to really drive through the glutes.
The push up
Scapular winging (shoulder blades popping up and coming together), big arch in the back, next to know bend at the elbow, head pushing toward the ground to make it feel like you are getting close to the ground. Ouch, makes me cringe a little. And this is even the case with knee push ups I see people do.The push up requires strength through the chest, and triceps and stability through the shoulder and scapula. It also requires abdominal strength to maintain a neutral spine.
Hands positioned just wider than shoulders and in line with the chest. Lower the body down keeping back straight like in a plank, keep your head in a neutral position looking at the ground, the elbows should get to at least 90 degrees bend or until your chest is about 2 inches off the ground, your shoulder blades should remain fairly flat on your back through the movement without the scapula winging out. Push back up all the way until arms are straight. That’s one push up.
I always say when your training, 1 good rep than 10 bad ones. Sometimes you have to leave ego at the door if you are to improve. So practice doing things right because unless you do you wont get stronger or correct the strength and flexibility imbalances you have.
If you enjoyed this blog and want more info on correct technique, please come and see our Personal Trainers at Spectrum Gym.