One of the best ways to stall your progress in the gym is to suffer from a careless injury. Unfortunately this happens all to often.
Sometimes it's from people just simply acting without thinking, trying to show off or by fooling around, but other times it's just due to common errors in exercise technique.
Some individuals just don't know any better when it comes to the correct form and actually think they are performing the exercise correctly.
If this is the case, all it takes is a simple correction and then they will be far safer during their workout and much less likely to wake up the next morning with a strange and debilitating pain.
Mistake 1 Barbell Squat
The first mistake people make when performing squats is not keeping their knees over their toes as they lower down into the squat position. The most common path is for the knees to begin moving inwards so they are in more of a 'knock-kneed' position.
Rarely you will also see people performing the opposite, with their knees moving in the outwards direction; however this usually happens only when the individual is bowl-legged to begin with or has a very natural turnout ability (feet naturally point outward like a dancer's).
When the knees follow this path, it places much more stress on the ligaments and connective tissues holding the knee cap and will often result in a great deal of pain within the knee joint.
To prevent this from happening, it is best to perform your squats in front of a mirror so you can watch and precisely track where the knee joint is moving.
If you see them moving slightly out of alignment, correct their tracking before going down any further. If it is a problem that is happening repeatedly, chances are that you may be lifting too heavy of a weight and simply lightening your load will correct the problem.
Mistake 2 Barbell Curl
This is usually seen when guys are trying to hoist a very heavy weight that is not within their ability. They will start curling the weight up and finish by using the momentum of their upper body to fully curl the bar to the finish point.
When this occurs, a great deal of stress is placed on the lower back and shoulder joints, as it is no longer the muscles that are pulling the weight up, but the speed of the movement.
The thinking behind this is that by using a heavier weight you will help to further push your muscles (after all, muscle growth is the result of overload); however, when the weight gets too high and this begins happening, the biceps aren't really even working anymore so no positive benefits will result.
To correct this problem, first lighten the amount you are lifting. This is the primary cause of this issue to begin with. After you have done that, really concentrate on keeping your elbows locked against the side of your body during the movement.
This will prevent you from swinging the weight up as if you were to use the swinging motion the elbows would also begin to move upwards.
A better way to achieve results with this exercise is through a slow and controlled motion, so focus on resisting the tension on both the way up and the way down, and I promise you will see much greater changes in your arm than if you performing the swinging motion that was going on before.
Mistake 3 Seated Barbell Military Press
What happens is they begin with good form, lifting the weight just above their head, but then as they continue to push upwards they begin to sway their backs forming a wonderful U-shape in their lumbar region. This is a perfect recipe for lower back pain.
With that heavy weight above your head and gravity acting down on it the weight is multiplied and the force gets focused on your lower back vertebrae. And since the spine is in an unnatural curvature the pressure loaded on these vertebrae will not be supported and can lead to a great deal of problems.
The simplest way to correct this problem is simply to use a military press machine with a back rest. This will help you to keep your back straight while performing the exercise (note that it is still possible for individuals to begin to sway in this machine as well so you will still have to concentrate on keeping your back tight against the back rest).
If you prefer not to use a machine to ensure you maintain proper form then try using less weight and perform the exercise standing sideways in front of a mirror. As you lift the weight, watch in the mirror and see what your back does.
It should maintain a normal neutral position throughout the entire exercise. If you find yourself wanting to sway, a way to correct this is to think of squeezing your glute muscles. This will help to tilt your pelvis forward and keep the lower back straight.
If these exercises are a regular part of your workout program, you need to be sure you aren't making these common errors or you may have trouble making it to the gym for your next workout.
You may feel alright while performing the actual exercise, but it is the next day or after a series of these workouts where you will start to notice problems.