The Personal Trainer: What NOT to do in your quest for fitness
by Ann Angell
Special to The Star
Feb 24, 2013 | 2052 views |  0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I recently wrote about 10 steps to a healthy you. I am sure many of you have started a new fitness routine and are getting great results.

Now let’s talk about the 10 steps you do not want to take in your quest for fitness, whether you are in the gym or on the road (sort of a bottom 10 list).

The main thing is to use your common sense. Just make sure what you are doing is safe. There is so much misinformation out there and some really odd things people are doing to try to get fit. Just remember: if it hurts, don’t do it. If you have an injury that seems to be chronic, try to look at what you are doing and examine whether it may be causing the injury. It is never a good idea to keep going if something hurts. Always listen to your body.

1 One of the more common mistakes I see people making is during abdominal exercises. Crunches are way overused but can still be effective if done right. In order to work your abs you almost always have to flex your spine in some form, such as a crunch. And while your neck is part of your spine, bending your chin down to your chest is not just flexing your spine. It is bending your neck. DON’T do this. Always lift with your abs, not your hands. Your neck stays in a neutral position. No pulling on your neck.

2 OK, you know you have done this one. You’re going out for a run so naturally you sit on the ground to do some static stretching before you take off. DON’T do this. The best way to warm up for a run is to mimic what you are about to do. So if you are about to run, do a light jog to prepare your body for what’s about to come. Then 10 minutes into your run if you want to stop and do a few short static stretches, be my guest.

3 How about lifting weights that are so heavy that your form stinks? Form is really important. If you are doing biceps curls and the weight is so heavy that you have to lean back in order to complete the lift, then you are now lifting with your back muscles, not your biceps. WRONG!

4 And when you are done doing biceps curls with those 50-pound dumbbells, please do not throw them on the floor. It is annoying, dangerous and not nearly as impressive as you think.

5 When using a public gym, remember that you sweat. Please wipe equipment down with anti-bacterial wipes. If your gym doesn’t have them, they should.

6 If you are lying on a bench doing a bench press and you are lifting too much weight or are struggling, take a moment to see how badly you are arching your back. A very common mistake is lying on your back lifting weights and arching your back so much you could drive a truck underneath. Try putting your feet on the bench or lowering the weight so that your spine stays in a neutral position.

7 It is never a good idea to lock your joints when performing an exercise. Always keep joints slightly softened to protect them.

8 If a trainer or teacher asks you to do something that you feel may be unsafe or seems dangerous, speak up. It is YOUR workout, not theirs.

9 Never use motions that are not controlled. Use control and keep abs super tight when lifting weights, throwing medicine balls or using ropes. If you are doing things haphazardly, chances are you might get injured or the person beside you might.

10 Finally, when you are lifting anything from heavy weights to your dog, use your legs to help. Don’t ever lean over straight legged to lift something off the floor. Bend your knees and lift with your legs.

All in all, it is about common sense and being as safe as we can be while changing our bodies for the better.
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