8 Popular Exercises That Even Fitness Instructors Do Wrong

Fitness experts are sure you can get in shape without going to the gym. And the exercises that can be practiced at home, such as planking, twisting, and squats, are perfect for that. But they may seem simple at first sight – in fact, a lot of people hurt them. And this can not only affect their effectiveness but also cause health problems.

At Bright Side, we’ve learned some common mistakes that people make while doing basic exercises. So we’ve studied the advice of fitness specialists and now we know how to fix them.

1. Plank:

The plank is one of the most effective basic exercises that engage all parts of the body. But the poor performance of this exercise resets its effectiveness and can lead to problems in the spine.


  • The elevation of the pelvis causes a misallocation of the load, which exerts too much pressure on the shoulders, causing pain in the neck.
  • Bending the lower back reduces abdominal muscle engagement, harms the knees, and can cause pain in the lower back.
  • Poor head position: Looking up or on the side can lead to cervical osteochondrosis.

The right technique:

  • Place your elbows just under the joints of your shoulders, relax your neck and look down.
  • Your legs should be straight and your gluteal muscles should be engaged.
  • Your back should be straight, your belly should be stretched, and your hips should form a straight line with your shoulders and heels.

2. Dips:

Dips are a basic exercise that works the triceps and upper body, suitable for beginners due to its simplicity of execution. As a general rule, dips should be done using a bench or chair, but after a certain level of training, you can also do them from the ground.

The right technique:

  • Place your palms shoulder-width apart on the edge of a sturdy chair, stabilize the hips, and stretch the legs forward, with the heels resting on the floor.
  • Slowly lower your body with the power of your hands. In the end, your elbows should form a 90° angle. Then push back up with your arms and return to the starting position.
  • Keep your back straight and as close as possible to the chair. Your elbows should bend backward, not to the sides.

3. Crunches:

To perform a crunch correctly, lie down on the floor and bend your knees at a 90° angle. As you tighten your abdominal muscles, gently lift your shoulders off the ground. It seems that there is nothing simpler than this exercise, but many people still make some mistakes.


  • A wide range of motion. Lifting the body too high puts the main load on the hip muscles instead of the abdominal muscles.
  • Curved neck. In this case, some of the load is transferred to the neck or hands when you hold your head behind you and put pressure on the back of your head.
  • Tightening the legs reduces the strain on the abdominal muscles, as the hip muscles are stressed.

The right technique:

  • Bend your knees at a 90° angle and press the lower back into the ground. Your hands can be crossed over your chest or placed behind your head.
  • Tighten your abdominal muscles, gently lift your shoulders 6-9 cm from the ground, and then slowly lower back down without relaxing the muscles.
  • Keep your feet on the floor during the exercise and look straight ahead.

4. Push-ups:

Studies show that a lighter version of push-ups targets the same muscles without excessive strain. You can do push-ups from the knees or toes, or against a wall, bench, or sofa.

The right technique:

  • Place your hands on the floor, the sofa, or a wall. Keep your body straight, like a plank, and lower it as low as possible. Then push back up gently.
  • Your arms should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Your fingers should point forward.
  • Ideal if your elbows are at a 45° angle to your body.

5. Squats:

Everyone knows that when you squat, you shouldn’t lift your heels off the ground or arch your back, but there are also less obvious mistakes.


  • Not bending the knees toward the toes, increasing joint strain and putting less stress on the quadriceps muscles.
  • Knees falling forward beyond the toes. This reduces the strain on the buttocks and can lead to pain.
  • Raising the head during the squat, which disrupts balance and technique and can cause pain in the lower back and neck.

The right technique:

  • Keep your back straight, look forward, and keep your feet flat on the floor throughout the exercise.
  • Your knees should not go beyond your toes. To improve your technique, focus on lowering your buttocks instead of bending your legs.
  • The kneecap should point in the same direction as the toes.
  • Perform the squat evenly and without jerking.
  • The depth of the squat and the width of your stance are crucial. Go into the squat until your hips are parallel to the ground. Incomplete squats put poor strain on thigh muscles, and knees are overloaded if squats are too deep.
  • Wider stance engages the inner thighs and buttocks muscles more.

6. Lunges:

When performed correctly, lunges target the buttocks and quadriceps muscles similar to squats and deadlifts, but some mistakes can occur.


  • Front leg knee going beyond the toe line, leading to uneven load distribution and engaging the front part of the thigh instead of the buttocks.
  • Body falling forward, straining the knee and disrupting balance.

The right technique:

  • Take a big step forward and shift your body weight to the front leg. Keep your body straight.
  • Lower down until the thigh of your front leg is parallel to the ground. Both legs should form a 90° angle between the upper and lower legs.
  • Ensure the knee does not go beyond the toes.
  • Return to the starting position by pushing up with the heel of your front leg.

7. Side Lunges:

This exercise targets the inner thigh muscles. It’s simple, but improper execution can adversely affect the spine, knees, and reduce its effectiveness.


  • The foot of the stretched leg not fully touching the ground, and the toes of the other leg pointing outward.
  • The knee of the leg shifting to the side.
  • Leaning forward, straining the knee and disturbing balance.

The right technique:

  • Take a step to the side and push your hips backward so that the thigh of your leg is almost parallel to the floor.
  • Both feet should stand flat on the floor with toes pointing forward. Keep your back straight.
  • The knee of your leg should be above your foot, with the lower leg parallel to the ground.

8. Boat Exercise:

Regular boat exercises are an excellent way to strengthen the lower back, improve blood flow to the pelvic organs, and relieve back pain. However, some mistakes can occur.


  • Knees pushed to the ground in the starting position, stressing the leg muscles instead of the back muscles.
  • Limbs bent during the exercise, reducing strain on the back muscles.

The right technique:

  • Starting position: Lie face down and stretch your arms and legs as far as possible. Tighten your hips so that your knees do not touch the floor.
  • Lift your arms, chest, and legs off the ground. Raise them slowly and hold for 2-4 seconds. Then return to the starting position.