Most popular exercises people get wrong (and how to do them right)
Not everyone can afford a full-time personal trainer, so how can you tell if your exercise routine is helping you achieve your fitness goals – or potentially doing more harm than good? The world’s first full-body virtual personal trainer, Kaia Personal Trainer, has unveiled two of the most popular exercises people get wrong – and how to do them right.
Exercising without instruction can lead to injury, particularly when people fail to identify where to feel the tension in a particular exercise or how to execute it correctly. Compound exercises, where multiple muscle groups work simultaneously, are the ones people commonly get wrong. These include the squat, deadlift and burpee.
Developed with physiotherapists and fitness experts, Kaia Personal Trainer is the first fitness smartphone app to use patent pending AI-powered motion tracking technology. The app tracks physical activity with a 16-point system that compares the metrics of actual movement against ideal movement, including the relative positions of limbs and joints – and the angles between them. The Kaia Personal Trainer counts the number of reps and provides real-time audio feedback to ensure exercises are done correctly.
The Kaia Personal Trainer: how to perform squats and lunges correctly
The app, which can be downloaded for free in the UK, creates personalised fitness routines, typically lasting 15 minutes daily, and instructs users across various exercises, including the side plank, bridge and reverse crunch. It covers all relevant body parts and muscle groups, including the lower back, core, glutes and hamstrings – and adjusts difficulty levels based on feedback so users can exercise and feel confident they will not injure themselves.
“Everyone now has access to a personal trainer to achieve their fitness goals from the comfort of their home – without the expensive personal trainer fees,” says Lukas Offinger, Training Specialist and Lead Sport Scientist at Kaia Health. “When done correctly, even simple exercises can have a great benefit, while complex exercises done wrong can do more harm than good. Our patented AI-powered motion tracking technology ensures people can get fit correctly – and are one step closer to achieving better results.”
When done correctly, squats exercise multiple muscle groups and improve core position and posture. The most common mistake is leaning too much to the front or extending the knees instead of ‘sitting back’ while lowering the body. This not only reduces strength and muscle gain, but increases injury risk.
How to do a squat correctly
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips
- Keep your spine in neutral and put your arms straight out
- Feel the weight in the heels and balls of your feel
- Tense your core
- Breathe deeply, bend at your hip, lower your body and push your butt back
- Keep your knees in line with your feet and ensure they do not move inwards
- Lower your body until your hip joint is lower than your knees
- Breathe out, still tensing your body, and raise your body through your heels
When done correctly, lunges help to strengthen, sculpt and build muscles and muscle groups such as the thighs, buttocks or hamstrings. A common mistake of the lunge is when people do not keep their upper body straight during the movement, or they perform the movement too fast. To avoid pain in the knees, take smaller steps when you lunge initially, then gradually increase the range of motion.
How to do a lunge correctly
- Start in a kneeling position
- Then lunge forward with one leg
- Shift your weight to the front leg and bring your other knee up off the ground
- Keep your upper body straight, tense your core
- Keep your front knee over your ankle, not pushed out too far
- Slowly lower your knee to the ground
- Always return to the starting position and repeat the movement
To get all the benefits of this exercise, you need to execute it very accurately. What happens in reality is that most people just lift one arm and the opposite leg for a second and somehow indicate the movement. What you should do, is to make sure you’re starting from a proper all-fours positio(shoulders above hands, hips above knees) and then lift your arm and leg slowly and controlled. Like that, you are forced to create the core tension you need, to stabilise the movement and especially the reversal point with your arm, upper body and leg being perpendicular the ground. By correcting the starting position and monitoring the speed of your movement this movement might be much more challenging for a lot of people.
How to do a Bird Dog correctly
- Start in the all-fours position with your hands and knees touching the ground
- Extend one leg straight backwards and the opposite arm out straight in front of you
- Try to keep your arm and leg parallel to the ground
- Bring your elbow and your knee back underneath your body then extend your arm and leg again
- Repeat this movement
This is a great exercise for activating the posterior chain, especially the glutes. To get the full contraction of the glutes, the hips must be completely extended. A lot of people start to lower the hips a few inches before that extension. The Kaia Health Personal Trainer forces you to fully extend the hips. It also corrects you, if you lift your head from the ground, to watch the movement. To keep your neck healthy, it should rest on the ground, constantly.
How to do a Glute Bridge correctly
- Lie flat on your back and raise up your legs so that your feet are together and flat on the ground
- Pull your toes up so that only your heels are touching the floor
- Lift your buttocks off the ground and raise it so far that your shoulders, buttocks, and knees create a straight line
- Lay your upper body, one vertebra at a time, slowly onto the ground and repeat the exercise
Most people probably know the correct position of this exercise but how do they know they’re executing it correctly? The Kaia Health Personal Trainer will let you know whether your hip is too low or too high. In order to keep your cervical spine aligned with your upper body and legs, it forces you to look downwards. By eliminating the guesswork, you can now fully concentrate on the tension in your core.
How to do a Plank correctly
- Support your body on your forearms and toes
- Tighten your abs by pulling your belly button slightly inward
- Hold this position