Avoiding common workout mistakesPlank: Your low back is most at risk in this move. Start in table top position with your hands shoulder width apart and knees hip width apart. Engage your core, squeeze your butt, and slowly begin to lift your knees off the ground and onto your toes. As you do this, make sure you’re pressing your heels back and rotating your elbows inward. Your lower back is at risk with this move, so it is important to tuck your core up and under. The more you squeeze your core, the more protected your lower back will be. To modify this, you can stay on your knees or come down onto your forearms. Squat: A simple move that is commonly done incorrectly! Start in a standing position with feet hip width apart. Slowly lower down like you are sitting in a chair and so your knees are right in line with your toes. Here is where mistakes are made; people will stick their butts out, loading the lower back with pressure, rather than their heels. So, remember you want to keep all the weight back in your heels, and core tucked to protect your lower back. To modify, you can shorten your range, but make sure you always have a nice flat back, and weight distributed properly. Crunches: Do crunches always hurt your neck? If so this one is for you! Lay onto your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Place your hands behind your head with your elbows open and begin to lift your body up and over towards your knees for a crunch. The biggest mistake people make are crunching their chin down into their chest as they lift up and their elbows begin to squeeze together. A crunch is done with your core, not your neck, so make sure you keep those elbows open and think about reaching with your armpits. Lift your upper body off the ground and then use your core to crunch up. Your neck will thank you! Lunges: Your knees are at the most risk with this move. Begin standing with feet hip width apart. Take your right foot and step it behind. Your left knee should be bent so your knee is in line with your toes and your right knee is slightly bent with the weight in the right toes. A common mistake here is with the knees. Many people will invert their knees and put a lot of unnecessary pressure on them. So be sure to evenly distribute your weight in the front heel and back toes. Engage your core and use it to stabilize yourself. As you lung down and up, make sure those knees stay facing forward. A helpful way to think about this is to keep your hips squared. Put your fists on your hips and make sure they are directly forward.
— Eliza S., University of Massachusetts Amherst