WORST GYM MISTAKES
Are you guilty of these?
1 Chest Press Machine
WORKS THE… Chest muscles and tones the armpit area.
2 Lat Pulldown Machine
WORKS THE… muscles on the back and sides of your body, for better posture.
3 Low-row Machine
WORKS THE… back, biceps and muscles between your shoulders.
4 Leg Press Machine
WORKS THE… Quadriceps (the front of the thighs), and glutes (butt muscles).
5 Leg Extension Machine
WORKS THE… Quadriceps.
• YOUR MISTAKE Lifting your elbows high, so you’re hunched and using the back of your shoulders instead. You could also hurt your rotator cuffs – the muscles and tendons near the shoulder joints, says Izzy Tham, personal trainer from Physical Abuse.
• THE RIGHT WAY Hold the handlebars two finger spaces away from the tips. Place your elbows at a 45-degree angle to your wrists, and check that you’re not hunching when you push the handles away. Your head and shoulders shouldn’t leave the backrest either.
• THE RIGHT WAY Adjust your seat so the chest bar is resting just below your breastbone. Lean forward to pull the handles back, squeezing your shoulder blades as you do so – this gives you a feel of how your back muscles should contract. Sit back upright in your seat with your core engaged – this is the correct starting position.
• YOUR MISTAKE Incorrect foot placement and posture. The leg press plate is large, and if your feet are too low and your knees bent at too acute an angle, you could be straining your kneecaps. Locking your knees as you push away from the plate also puts unnecessary pressure on your ligaments and joints, Izzy adds.
• YOUR MISTAKE Resting the foot bar over your insteps (the parts of the feet between the ball and ankle) or high up on your shins – it will mean that you’re sitting with your hips away from the backrest, causing lower-back strain. Locking your joints could injure your knees too.
• THE RIGHT WAY Sit into the backrest, so that your entire back is fully supported. Place your legs hip-width apart and rest the foot bar on your lower shins, just above the ankles. Pull your abdominal muscles in to prevent your back from arching, and flex your feet to engage your quadriceps.
• THE RIGHT WAY Sitting fully into the backrest, bend your knees at 90 degrees with your feet in the middle of the plate. Keep toes in line with your shoulders, or higher, to target the glutes. Control your movements – don’t let the weight stack slam into its rest.
• THE RIGHT WAY Hold the bar with your hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart. “From the side, you should look like you’re pulling the bar up to your collarbones, leaning back a little, but still sitting tall with your core engaged,” says Izzy.
• YOUR MISTAKE Tugging the bar all the way down in front of you could put too much weight on your spine. Pulling the cable bar down behind your neck is also wrong – it taxes the shoulder joints and doesn’t open up the back muscles.
• YOUR MISTAKE Not adjusting the chest bar to your height, or hunching over when you reach for the machine handles – this will mean that you’re using your forearms instead.