Could you be getting more out of your home workout? The home environment can make it challenging to know for certain you're doing exercises correctly. And this can increase fears of injury. We want to help! Here are 3 easy-to-understand cues favored by trainers that will help you get the most out of each exercise and avoid injury:
- “Belly button in and up." Oftentimes we see our clients carelessly go through the motions in core exercises. This leads to more hip flexor and low back fatigue (but we want to target the abs). One of our favorite cues is a reminder to draw the belly button in toward the spine and up toward the chest cavity. These are two hints that can really help you feel the muscles working in your core much more (a good indication you're doing it correctly). As an added bonus, do these same cues on other exercises to help provide the body with stability. This will help ensure you do them safely too.
- “Stop shrugging.” Most of you don’t even know you are doing it. You shrug. We see our clients exhibit this during upper body exercises at the point in a set when it gets challenging. "Shrugging" is when we lift the shoulders up toward the ears. This overworks muscles that really should not be involved or engaged. This is a negative thing because it can lead to overuse injuries over time. A common exercise in which we see this displayed frequently is during push-ups. We tell our clients to keep their shoulders away from their ears, pull down on their armpits slightly (to engage stabilizing muscles), and tuck the tailbone under to engage the core. This will prevent those overuse injuries and help to make sure the appropriate muscles are doing the work.
- “Stick those hips out." A squat seems like a very simple movement pattern, especially since we kinda do them constantly all day long. Since it's such a functional movement pattern, why not try to learn more ways to improve your squat? Most of the time, if our clients aren’t taught properly, they reverse the proper muscle recruitment sequence of a squat. Like this: they tend to bend their knees first, and then stick their hips out behind them. For some this is not a problem, but for others this can cause knee compression pain. It’s a simple adjustment; just a little switch in the sequence, but it makes a huge difference. Stick your hips back first like you are going to sit in a chair and then bend at the knees. Try to keep your butt down and your chest up. Try it and see if you notice a difference!
If you want to ensure you are on the right track, understanding form, training principles, and more cues properly, why not pay a trainer to do an assessment on your body, or sign up for a month of personal training to gain knowledge and ideas? That way, you won’t second guess the effectiveness of your home workout plan! Take it from us trainers, it is much better to train correct form and technique ahead of time, rather than having to undo and re-train years of poor patterns. If you aren’t sure, seek a professional for advice.