There’s nothing that makes a fitness instructor cringe more than seeing someone exercise with bad form — shoddy alignment is dangerous and can lead to injury.
The response is visceral for trainers such as Anna Kaiser: “It makes my body hurt,” says the small-but-mighty dance-cardio guru, who works with celebrities from Kelly Ripa to Shakira. “You can’t take your workouts to the next level until you have proper form. It’s kind of irresponsible not to get it right.”
‘You can’t take your workouts to the next level until you have proper form. It’s kind of irresponsible not to get it right.’
Here, influential trainers share the most commonly butchered exercise moves, plus some healthier alternatives you can handle on your own — even when you’re not under the watchful eye of a pro.
Skip: Single-leg dead lifts
In her famous dance-based fitness classes at AKT, Kaiser often sees people doing this balance-heavy move incorrectly. The exercise involves standing on one leg with weights in both hands, then bringing the weights to the ground as the back leg rises. Often, Kaiser sees spines curving and knees buckling. This could result in back pain and even a herniated disk, especially if heavier weights are involved, she says.
Kaiser recommends taking it to a mat to tone your glutes. Lying on your back, put one foot flat on the floor with the knee bent. Lift the other leg at a 90-degree angle with the toes pointed up. Raise the hips about 8 inches from the ground and pulse. The move works the same muscles as the single-leg dead lift — the glutes, the hamstrings and the inner and outer thigh muscles. “It’s easier to target the right muscles and also keep your back neutral,” Kaiser says.
Aim for three sets of 25 reps, then switch sides and repeat.
Try: Single-leg bridges