Workout Mistakes & How to Avoid Them | Prevent Gym Injury!

Monday, June 27 2022 1:38 PM
By Ellen Healy

Let's face it!

We all talk big when it comes to working out. Many of us assume that we know our stuff or claim to be experts when it comes to proper form. But honestly, are we?

You might be making some workout mistakes unless you've studied, thoroughly researched, or worked in the fitness industry. Common workout mistakes can lead to major blows to the ego, but more seriously, physical injuries and a loss in gains. 

Knowledge is Power

Whether you think you know it all or you've been waiting for some more information on this matter, here are some workouts and their common mistakes for everyone to (re)familiarize themselves with.

After all, knowledge is power. Being aware keeps you safe and ultimately helps you reach your fitness goals.


How to Avoid Gym Injury | Correcting Common Workout Mistakes


Kettlebell Swings

The Workout: The kettlebell, in general, can give you a great full-body workout. The ball shape and handle allow for a wide range of movement-based, strength-training exercises. Maintaining proper form with a kettlebell is crucial to avoid getting hurt.

Gym Kettlebells

Avoid the Workout Mistake! Use the Correct Muscle Group and Keep it Engaged. Remember to push your hips back and thrust them forward to move the wight during a kettlebell swing. You want to power through your glutes! Many of us try to use our upper body to swing the weight, which can lead to lower back and shoulder pain. You should also protect your body by keeping your shoulders back. It's common to want to hunch forward when you carry anything heavy. Fight the urge and thank your well-maintained form later on.

Avoid the Workout Mistake! Keep Your Grip Not Too Loose, Not Too Tight. Have your grip loose enough so that the natural weight flows in every move, but firm enough around the handle so that you don't let go of the kettlebell. You protect your wrists by having a good grip. The best rule of thumb? Not too loose, not too tight. This sort of grip will allow you to perform the move correctly and safely, leading to better gains altogether.



The Workout: Deadlifts are highly recommended and can lead to substantial muscle gains and results, but only when performed correctly—many people round their backs which can put a lot of unwanted and scary pressure on your spine.

Man using barbell in gym

Avoid the Workout Mistake! Don't Round Your Back; Engage Your Core. When performing a deadlift, stand mid-foot under the barbell. Bend over and be sure not to arch or round your back. Keep your spine protected as you grab the bar at shoulder width. Bend down with your knees and hips and push your hips forward. Lift your chest, straighten your back, and engage your core while driving your hips forward to stand.


Tricep Dips

The Workout: Tricep Dips are a go-to for anyone looking to create tone and definition in their upper arms. Along with your triceps, dips can help you see gains in your shoulders and chest when done correctly.

Avoid the Workout Mistake! Ease Into Dips and Know Your Limits. Ever feel some major pain in your shoulders after doing tricep dips? You might be doing them wrong! If you are tight and have some muscle imbalances in your shoulders and back, you could injure yourself by putting unnecessary strain on your shoulder joints. To protect yourself, ease into tricep dips. Start with a bench so that your legs can help you support your weight. Once you graduate to regular dips, be sure to remain strong and confident so that you don't lower all your bodyweight all at once, hurting your shoulders.



The Workout: The classic situp is excellent for building your core and is easy to perform at any age or skill level.

Avoid the Workout Mistake! Don't Use Your Back, Use Your Abs - Duh!

woman doing situps

This is a common exercise that people perform wrong all the time! Many people end up using and pulling with their back muscles, skipping their abs altogether. According to Dr. Julie Barneett, an assistant professor of Physical Therapy at The University of Texas at San Antonio, full situps compress your spine too much. She suggests people do partial situps instead, where you "lift yourself up but just until your shoulder blades come off the floor." In performing this better-safe-than-sorry alternative, you still get the gains you seek, but you save your back some trouble and some unwanted hurt and pressure.



The Workout: Get your chest, triceps, and deltoids swole with this classic exercise - the pushup! A favorite among gym junkies, pushups are great for gains, but many injure themselves when performing the move incorrectly.

Avoid the Workout Mistake! Maintain Good Posture; Don't Arch Your Back. As mentioned in the previous workout mistakes, well-maintained and perfect posture is critical. You want to keep your back strong and not let it arch while performing pushups. If you let your back arch, it will not be protected, and you won't challenge your upper body as best you can. To get the full benefits, keep your form.


Bicep Curls

The Workout: Curls for the girls, am I right? Bicep curls are for anyone and everyone and can be performed using a barbell, dumbbell, or resistance band. Curls are a popular go-to if you want to see those biceps grow.

bicep curls in the gym

Avoid the Workout Mistake! Use the Correct Weight; Keep Your Spine in Line. A lot of people swing their arms while performing bicep curls. Most of the time, people are swinging because they picked a weight that's too heavy for them. To start, make sure you choose a weight that you can complete full sets with. Make sure you keep your spine neutral and engage your core muscles. If you keep your focus on using only your biceps while maintaining a neutral posture with your back and shoulders, you'll be safe and make more significant gains.


Back Rows

How to do a dumbbell row

The Workout: A back row is a compound exercise that helps build a stronger and broader back, which many people often do wrong.

Avoid the Workout Mistake! Keep Your Back Neutral. The key here, again and again, is to keep your back neutral, never arching or rounding your back. Keep that form! The best way to be mindful of this is to perform back rows sideways to a mirror. This way, you can look at your back while you row and make adjustments or regroup if need be.


Overhead Press

The Workout: The dumbbell overhead press is one of the best strength-building exercises.

Avoid the Workout Mistake! Don't Arch Your Spine Backwards. If you are arching your spine back during an overhead press, you risk injuring your back by putting unnecessary strain on your shoulders and spine. Instead, maintain good posture as you push the weights up, and be sure to have a slight bend in your knees. 


Russian Twists

The Workout: Russian Twists are an incredible workout for your abs. Russian Twists work your core, hips, and shoulders when done correctly.

Avoid the Workout Mistake! Don't Slouch; Don't Move Your Knees Side to Side. Often while performing Russian twists, many people crouch their back and move and bend their knees from side to side. Don't do this! You're missing out on this powerful move that will lead you to a rock-solid core. To perform a Russian twist, start by sitting on the floor in a V-shaped form. Next, fully extend your arms and twist your torso to each side, keeping your arms parallel to the floor and moving your hands to the opposite hip. Don't slouch and keep those shoulder blades from dropping.


Hanging Leg Raises

hanging leg raise workout

The Workout: One of the best workouts out there for mobility, core strength, and spinal health is hanging leg raises, which fire up your abs and hip flexors.

Avoid the Workout Mistake! Don't Swing. We often try to swing our legs and use momentum to lift them in hanging leg raises. Don't! Using momentum instead of your legs can injure your lower back. Instead of swinging, stabilize your spine as you pull your knees to your chest. Use your core to lift your legs and feel the burn. 



The Workout: Planks are a core crusher! They're great, but if you're doing them wrong, you could hurt yourself, and you could miss out on that six-pack you've always wanted.woman doing plank exercise

Avoid the Workout Mistake! Keep Your Hips Up &  Booty Down. There are two big mistakes that people often make during planks: 1. Their hips are too low to the floor, and/or 2. Their booty is too high in the air. The best way to keep track of your form is to do planks in front of a mirror. Look at your body, make sure it's parallel to the floor, keep your booty in check, and make sure it's not too high.


Lunges and Squats

The Workout: Lunges and Squats are arguably the best workouts you can do to strengthen your legs and booty.

lunge exercise

Avoid the Workout Mistake! Don't Let Your Knees Go Past Your Toes. The most common mistake with lunges or squats is keeping your knees too far forward, creating a lot of pressure on them. Wanting to correct that? Don't let your knees go past your toes! Lunges and squats call for activation in the glutes. So, be sure to keep your glutes engaged for the best result.



The Workout: Many people see pull-ups as more of an arm workout, but it's so much more than that! It strengthens your back, chest, arms, and abs.

Avoid the Workout Mistake! Don't Lift or Swing Your Legs. Instead, keep your core tight and engage that strong back as you pull your weight up.


Donkey Kicks

The Workout: If you're doing it right, donkey kicks will fire up your glutes and legs every time.

Avoid the Workout Mistake! Keep Your Form & Your Foot Parallel. Like many of the other exercises we've been talking about, make sure you're not overarching your back and try to keep your lower back in a neutral position. During Donkey Kicks, keep your foot that is up parallel to your lower leg, and make sure your foot doesn't turn inward or outward.



Are you hurting yourself while working out? Don't!

Whether you've been working out for years or you're just getting started, it's good to be aware of the common workout mistakes so that you can protect yourself from gym injury and reach your fitness goals safely. 

Being aware of your body and its needs is KEY to working out and getting fit. Not only does this knowledge of common workout mistakes help you avoid injury, but it also helps you get the most out of every workout, helping you succeed and find real results on your fitness journey.





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