Know These > Injury
One of the biggest reasons I’ve heard people say they are “afraid of large gyms” or “uncomfortable working out” is because they honestly don’t know right from wrong when exercising. Let’s be honest, there are far more gyms out there with condescending members who would rather put you on YouTube before offering some helpful advice. If embarrassment is the culprit keeping you from hitting the gym with confidence, it may be the fear of getting hurt. Exercising, especially with heavy weight, can be dangerous if you don’t understand correct form.
This article is a simple explanation of 3 basic exercises that will help you hit the gym with confidence! If you can understand the concepts behind performing a proper squat, lunge and dead lift, you can be sure you will have great form with any exercise you want to attempt. So read on and prepare to kill any doubt you had the gym wasn’t for you!
*The first concept is being “flat footed.” In every leg exercise, you can protect your knees from injury and maximize your power by pushing through your heels. If you push through your heels, your feet will remain flat on the ground. When applying this concept, try to imagine yourself pushing the ground downward, rather than lifting your body upward.
*The second concept here is the “hip hinge.” Hinging your hip is a balance technique. This is basically the idea of pushing your butt out behind your body, while lowering your hips and keeping your upper body upright. The hip hinge technique will keep pressure away from your lower back during a squat and instead load the weight into the largest muscles of the legs.
*The main concept here is “joint stacking.” Joint stacking is the absolute sure-fire way to protect your joints from injury in any exercise. During a lunge, this means that as you step forward, your knee never passes over your toes. This will keep your hips in line with your knees and your knees in line over your ankles. Your goal is to create 90˚ angles between as many joints as possible during the exercise.
*The secondary concept during a lunge is “balance.” The lunge can be very difficult if you have poor balance. Focus on keeping your body upright and avoid leaning over your front leg. You can practice your balance here by mastering a reverse lunge first.
*The most important concept during a deadlift is having a “flat back.” One of the most common areas of injury from exercise is the lower back. Lower back injuries only occur when your back becomes rounded and the vertebrae that make up the spine are spaced out. Keep your back straight by pulling your shoulders back and flexing the muscles in your lower back. Two tips you can use to make sure you are mastering this form are to be sure your chest faces the wall in front of you, not the ground and that your shoulders are flexed, not allowing the weight to “hang” from your arms.
*The other concept learned during the deadlift is “complex joint movement.” The deadlift requires that you use your hips, knees and shoulders all at once. The deadlift uses all of the concepts from the prior two exercises listed here and should be attempted after mastering the squat and the lunge. Be sure to begin learning this exercise using light weigh in front of a mirror.
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