Are you doing these basic exercises wrong?

You don’t need the newest equipment, or the latest fitness fad to see results. And while I’m at it, you don’t need to squat on a stability ball to get stronger at the squat. In fact, for most of us, the best way to get stronger using a stability/bosu ball is to pick it up and throw it out the window as far you can. Shiny new objects are fun to play with now and then, but what gets you sustainable results is doing a few exercises, and doing them well.

Unfortunately, when we don’t do exercises the way they are meant to be done, they become about as useful as a mic would be to Arnab Goswami.

Here are my top nominations for exercises in the “Most frequently butchered” category. If you regularly do any of these exercises but aren’t seeing the results you want, or if you want to start working out and don’t know whether you are doing things right, this post is for you.

1. Plank

When I work with new trainees for the first time, I make it a point to ask them if they’ve done planks before. Almost everyone nods their heads (do you even plank bro?!) and when I ask them to demo for me, they do something that looks like this,

At which point, my face goes like this,

When you plank, you need to be in a straight line from your ankles to your ears. And to do this, rather than randomly hang out in an awkward position, you need to make your muscles work. Picture a light bulb connected to every muscle in your body. Aim to turn on as many of these light bulbs as you can. Next time you plank, do this,

  • Grip the floor with your hands
  • Send your shoulders towards your butt pockets
  • Get stiff through your abs
  • Clench your butt hard

And you’ll look more like this,

Light bulbs on!

2. Squats 

Most conventional gyms – heavily influenced by bodybuilding protocols – teach you to squat with your knees in front of you.

But squatting with your knees driving slightly out on either side, like in the picture on the left, gets you better results. Not only does it engage more muscles (making it more ‘functional’), but it also keeps your spine healthier!

3. Russian / Ab. twists 

Have you seen people lie on their backs and wildly crunch their arms and legs towards each other? Heavily craning their necks too. Unfortunately, you can do that until you’re blue in the face and it still doesn’t do much for your body.

Instead, brace your abdomen like you would while holding a plank and make slow, deliberate movements. Kind of like this,

4. Weight pick ups 

“Every time you pick up a weight with a rounded back, a puppy dies.” – Arvind Ashok

Statistically, about 98% of gym injuries happen when you pick up and place weights back down (the other 2% happen every time you choose leg curls over squats).

Yes, I totally made up those numbers.

Yes, you should still believe me anyway.

Protect your spine by using your legs and abs to pick weights up. A simple thing to remember is : shoulders above hips above knees.

Have I missed something on this list? Is there an exercise you’ve always wanted to learn but haven’t been able to? Let me know in the Comments section! 🙂


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