I saw this on my Twitter feed this morning and though it would be a good image to share with you guys. It’s a good comparison of the incorrect (left) and correct (right) ways to do some of the more common exercises.
First of all, I’ve never seen someone so happy to be doing lunges, crunches, and squats before. Maybe she is on to something I don’t know about. Nonetheless, it is a good illustration.
For her planks and pushups, you’ll notice that on the left side her body is angled at the hips. Whether the hips are angled up or down, it doesn’t really matter. Both of them are wrong. On the right side, however, we’ve got our happy planks. You’ll notice one straight, flat line from her head all the way to her toes. There should be no bending of the hips. Trust me, it makes it much more challenging, but worth it, to do it right.
With the squats and lunges, the major difference here is the position of the knee. Notice on the left side, the knee is coming forward past the front foot. This is bad for the knee and the ligaments within the knee joint. On the right side, with our happy squats, you’ll notice her hips are pushed all the way back, preventing the knee from coming forward. The same holds true with the lunges as she is bending down with the back knee as opposed to leaning forward onto the front foot.
These technique differences are small, but very important for two major reasons. The first, and probably most important, is injury prevention. Doing exercises incorrectly, even if only slightly, can cause serious injury to the muscles being used. Low back, knees, and ankles, are notorious for getting injured if used incorrectly. Second, exercises are developed to work specific muscles and/or muscle groups. Doing them incorrectly may cause you to stray into another area, taking focus off of what the movement is designed to do.
So, as you can see, technique is important far beyond simply looking good while doing a squat. It keep you from getting injured and helped you work the correct muscles. Concentrate on what you’re doing in the gym in order to do it the right way.