2 Basic Exercises You’re Probably Doing Wrong


2 Basic Exercises You’re Probably Doing Wrong

Moving your body and staying active is helpful to maintaining your health.  Whether you enjoy leisurely walks around your neighborhood, swimming, hiking, taking aerobic classes or lifting weights, the opportunities are endless to keep your body moving.

As we age, we begin to lose muscle, known as “sarcopenia”.  Around 30 years and older, our bodies start losing muscle mass at 3-5% per decade (sedentary lifestyle) [1].  Exercise becomes critically important to help muscle gain, as it stimulates the release of hormones that help with healthy muscle growth [2].  So, on that note – keep that body moving!

Ensuring that the movements you decide to do are done in the right form is crucial to getting the most out of your workouts.  Here are two basic exercises you may have been doing wrong, and how to execute them correctly:

1. The Squat

The basic squat is one of the most effective movements for sculpting your legs as they mainly target your glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps.  Did you know that your glutes are one of the biggest muscle groups in your body?

If squatting does not feel natural to you, try holding onto something to stabilize yourself in the beginning to get your body used to the movement.

To execute a squat in good form, start with your legs slightly wider than shoulder width apart.  Your toes can be pointed forward or slightly out.

Your legs should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart

Good Squat Form


When you crouch into your squat, lean back like you are sitting into a chair. Do not let your knees move forward over your toes or come together (knock knees).  Your chest should be up, and your core should be firm. When you stand up, push up with your heels and squeeze your glutes.

Do not let your knees move forward over your toes or come together. Chest up, core firm.

Good Squat Form 2


Do 3 sets of 10 squats, and if possible, watch yourself in a mirror to make sure you’re really sitting back and getting the most out of the squat.

2. The Plank

Planks are a full body workout.  It’s better to hold a plank for 20 seconds with proper form than for 1 minute with lousy form! Bad form has been known to cause muscle imbalances and injury.

A great plank is all about alignment and full body effort.  Every muscle should be engaged, from your upper traps all the way down to your calves.  When you are in position, you want to make sure your elbows are right under your shoulders; try to push away from the ground with your forearms.  Your stomach should be tight (do not let your back sag) and think about how you would react if someone sucker punched you in the stomach (I’m serious!).  That motion of slightly curling in will make this exercise dominate your abdominal muscles.

Elbows under your shoulders. Stomach should be tight – do not let your back sag!

Good Plank


Start off with increments of 15 seconds at a time to ensure you have good form before going for a full one-minute hold.

There are always modifications to any exercise you do.  If your body is not yet at the level of holding a 15 second plank with proper form, you can start off by planking on your knees instead of your feet.  Continue to work on this until you feel you can start going for 15 seconds, then progress eventually to 1 minute.  The determination and progress you’ll see will make you feel great!


[1]. Cooper, Greg. “At What Age Do You Start to Lose Muscle?”LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 14 Sept. 2015. Web. 08 Oct. 2015.

[2]. “Sarcopenia (Muscle Loss With Aging): Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments.” WebMD. WebMD, 3 Aug. 2014. Web. 08 Oct. 2015.


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Fall Fitness: 4 Ways to Stay Motivated


Fall Fitness: 4 Ways to Stay Motivated

The short days and cool temperatures can make it rather tempting to cozy up inside with a good book and a cup of tea, but don’t let fall sabotage your fitness! If your motivation is flagging, check out the following ways to put a spring back in your step:

1. Set a Goal

One of the best ways to stay motivated is to focus on making a dream a reality. This means not only deciding what you want to achieve, but figuring out a realistic plan to accomplish that. Maybe you want to run a marathon or half-marathon, or even 5K or 10K next year. Perhaps you want to take on a challenging multi-day hike that was just outside your comfort zone this summer. Now’s the time to work on a training plan so you’re ready to achieve that dream next summer.

2. Sign up for a Class

If you find it hard to stay motivated by yourself, try going back to school! Check your local community center, gym or other fitness facility for fall classes and pick something fun and social. You’ll learn new techniques, make  friends, and have a regular fitness routine to keep you motivated. How about salsa? Zumba? Yogalates? Or maybe hip-hop dance is more your speed….

3. Reward Yourself

If exercise isn’t itself a rewarding activity for you, why not engage in a little operant conditioning? Treat yourself to something fun after every fitness class, run or gym session and you’ll soon associate exercise with positive things. If you’re trying to watch your weight, avoid food-based rewards and try something activity oriented, like going to see a movie, browsing the bookstore, or going to an art gallery with friends.

4. Switch up your music

If running, rowing, cycling or otherwise exercising is starting to feel a little repetitive, try creating a new music playlist to boost your motivation. Eye of the Tiger, Coldplay, maybe even some Cotton Club era jazz or a little Taylor Swift could all help you, ahem, shake it off.

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