In the rush to get fit, it’s easy to speed through workouts with sloppy posture or incorrect form. Don’t do it! Taking the time to relearn the basics could make all the difference in slimming your waistline and toning your abs, not to mention significantly lowering the risk of injury. Here are some exercises you’re doing wrong and how to fix them now:
Sit ups: Unfortunately, sit ups are one of those exercises that it’s easy to take the easy way out of. People powering through sit ups usually rise slowly and then drop their backs back down to the ground. The problem with this is that you’re not working your abs to their full potential. The act of slowly lowering your torso back down is actually half the workout, and you’re missing it by crashing to the floor with every sit up. Instead of falling back, make it a goal to never let your back touch the ground so that your lowest point will actually be hovering about an inch above the floor. Move steadily and constantly and you’ll be on your way to a six-pack in no time!
Planks: Anyone who reads Ab Workouts for Women knows how much we love our planks. Planks are the prime exercise for a full-body toning workout. They require engagement of nearly every muscle, especially those in your core. But, by not keeping your back 100 percent flat when you plank, you’re either taking the easy way out or risking injury. Popping your behind up, making an inverse V-shape, takes the effort out of the plank, meaning you’re only working at about 50 percent of the level you should be. If you’re a bum popper, lower down a few inches. Check your reflection in a mirror to make sure you’re level. Sagging your back in a plank puts way too much pressure on your lower back, which could result in soreness or a much worse injury. If you’re a saggy planker, intentionally engage your abs to help support your back. If you’re wilting because it’s just too much for you, don’t worry. Start planking with your knees on the ground and move back up to the traditional position as you acquire more strength.
Running: I’m going to share a secret that I recently learned the hard way when I suffered a knee injury of my own: running is one of the most common exercises you’re doing wrong. We slam our feet onto pavement, resulting in some serious knee shock (nearly 12 times amplified impact). That’s a recipe for disaster and a sure way to knee problems, whether you run two miles or 20. The best way to run is actually toe to heel, instead of heel to toe like most of us do. The fact of the matter is that running toe to heel isn’t always to most practical approach. It often feel awkward and clumsy unless you’re sporting some of those barefoot, toe shoes. That doesn’t mean you can’t relearn with proper technique, but you can also focus on taking lighter steps, even if you keep running as a heel striker. Shortening your stride is the easiest way to achieve this. By taking smaller steps, you’ll suspend in the air for a shorter amount of time, resulting in lighter steps. Even though the idea of taking more steps per distance may sound like more work, it’s actually much easier after you get the hang of it. Running with a straight back, tilted forward ever so slightly is another way to take the pressure off of your heels, resulting in smaller knee jolts. The next time you hit the trail or the treadmill, think consciously about shortening your stride and straightening your back. You knees will thank you down the road.
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