Five simple exercises you're probably doing wrong

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You might think you can do the following exercises with your eyes closed, but the chances are you're probably doing them wrong. But by making a few small changes to improve your form and technique, you could improve your efficiency and have a more effective workout.

  1. Planks. Despite being one of the most straightforward exercises to execute, it is also one that people frequently get wrong. Avoid 'the banana', with a sunken back and stomach, or 'the mountain' with your backside stuck high in the air. All these place a huge strain on your lower back and neck, and will increase your risk of injury. Most importantly, pull in your core from your stomach and ensure your heels, bottom and shoulders are all in line.
  2. Lunges are great for working the legs and glutes, but chances are, your form's a bit off. Unless you step far enough forward (or back if you're doing reverse-style lunges) then it's likely you're putting excess strain on your knees. It's also important to maintain an upright position and not to lean forwards when you step forward.
  3. Squats. Squats are a great exercise to work your entire lower body, engaging your legs, glutes and core. Correct form is to keep your chest high, backside pushed out and knees tracking over your feet. But the main issue is that many people lack the mobility to maintain this posture through out the movement and risk a lower back or knee-related injury by performing the movement incorrectly.
  4. Dumbbell/bicep curls. Often, the reason for this exercise being performed incorrectly is because people use weights heavier then they can handle. This movement works the bicep practically insolation, which should provide a clue about the correct form. You shouldn't be moving your shoulders, or even swinging your entire body, in an attempt to curl the weight up.
  5. Crunches/sit ups. This exercise should work just the front of your chest, your abdominal muscles. But the problem is that a lot of people do it wrong and strain their necks or injure their lower backs, by overdoing it. Try moving from your abdominal region and fixing your gaze at a point on the ceiling to help keep your head steady.

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