Whether you have been working out for awhile, or just getting started, there are helpful tips that we should all know when exercising. These tips are so important because if you are not doing them, it could be inhibiting you from reaching your fitness goals, but even worse, could result in pain and injury!
How is your form?
How is your form when exercising? Are you hunching over? Or are you standing tall? What muscles are. you trying to work? Do you feel those muscles working? If not, then an adjustment needs to be made.
Take a moment to slow down and evaluate your form and what you are trying to accomplish with the exercise. Speed is not an indicator of strength or being better. Sometimes slower is actually better, and can be more challenging! For example, if you are performing a mountain climber, if you slow down and simply draw your knees in one at a time versus running them in, you may actually get more core engagement and feel it more. This is helpful as you build up strength and improve your form.
Is your core engaged?
I say this in my training classes all of the time – if I were to walk up to you and hit you in the stomach, would it hurt? If so, then you need to engage your abs. Now, I’m not actually going to go around and punch people, or you, but just take a moment to squeeze your abs tight, regardless of whether you are doing an ab exercise or not. Core engagement is key for core exercises, but also for other exercises like a squat, deadlift, etc. The reason why is because you are protecting your core from injury and helping to isolate and work the area the exercise is targeting.
Another helpful tip to check if your core is engaged is to come into a plank pose and hold. Notice if your hips and low back are sinking low and drooping down towards the ground, or are you lifting your hips and butt up like a down dog? These are indicators that you need to change your form, engage your core, and possibly shift your weight forward or back, or change where your gaze is looking. If your head is tilted down, you may inadvertently lift your hips up!
Are you breathing?
This may seem silly, but are you breathing when you work out? Are you running out of breath very quickly or feel like you gasp for air once an exercise is complete? This can simply be an indicator of where your cardio endurance is at the moment; however, often times, people can forget to breathe without even realizing! Crazy right!? But it’s not really! It is so easy to get caught up in a workout routine or exercise, so make sure that with every single repetition of an exercise, that you are taking an inhale and exhale. For example, when performing a push-up, inhale on the way down to the bottom of a push-up, and exhale as you lift your self back up.
Please note: if you have other breathing problems that do not go away or always feel constant when exercising, then please check with your physician to make sure something else is not going on.