Personal trainer apps are now a thing. You'll love this if you've been shopping for home gym equipment and will be working out without expert supervision. If you already have been, you'll know it's hard to be confident you're actually performing your lunges, squats and other exercises correctly – to get the best out of the work out – and safely – so you don't injure yourself, right? And we know that not everyone can afford a personal trainer, so a virtual solution sounds too good to be true.
Kaia (opens in new tab) is the world's first full-body virtual personal trainer and is free to download. It was developed by physiotherapists and fitness experts to bring you real-time audio feedback on your exercise positions. It can also be used for personalised fitness routines lasting 15 minutes and covering all body parts and muscle groups no matter your fitness level – go check it out.
For a bit of fun, the experts behind Kaia have come up with a list for us of the most common exercises we get wrong at home or at the gym if we're unsupervised. The majority are compound exercises that use multiple muscle groups at one time. Here's how to execute these popular exercises properly, without breaking a leg...
Visit our home gym page for more exercise tips and product recommendations.
Exercise #1: Squats
What are the most common mistakes when it comes to squating?
Leaning too much to the front and extending the knees.
What happens when squats are performed wrong?
They can, believe it or not, reduce strength and muscle gain, as well as increase injury risk.
How to squat the right way
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips;
- Keep your spine in neutral and put your arms straight out;
- Feel the weight in the heels and balls of your feet;
- Tense your core;
- Breathe deeply, bend at your hip, lower your body and push your butt back;
- Keep your knees in line with your feet and ensure they do not move inwards;
- Lower your body until your hip joint is lower than your knees;
- Breathe out, still tensing your body, and raise your body through your heels.
What happens when a squat is performed correctly?
Squats exercise multiple muscle groups and improve core position and posture.
Exercise #2: Lunges
What are the most common mistakes when it comes to lunging?
Not keeping your upper body straight and performing the exercise too fast.
How to lunge the right way
- Start in a kneeling position;
- Then lunge forward with one leg;
- Shift your weight to the front leg and bring your other knee up off the ground;
- Keep your upper body straight, tense your core;
- Keep your front knee over your ankle, not pushed out too far;
- Slowly lower your knee to the ground;
- Always return to the starting position and repeat the movement.
What happens when a lunge is performed correctly?
Lunges help to strengthen, sculpt and build muscles in the thighs, buttocks and hamstrings.
Exercise #3: Bird dog
What are the most common mistakes when it comes to performing the bird dog?
A lot of people only lift one arm and the opposite leg for just a second.
How to do the bird dog properly
- Start in the all-fours position with your hands and knees touching the ground;
- Extend one leg straight backwards and the opposite arm out straight in front of you;
- Try to keep your arm and leg parallel to the ground;
- Bring your elbow and your knee back underneath your body then extend your arm and leg again;
- Repeat this movement.
What happens when the bird dog is performed correctly?
Having a strong core tension stabilises the movement to make it more challenging.
Exercise #4: Glute bridge
What are the most common mistakes when it comes to performing the glute bridge?
Often, people begin to lower their hips before the extension.
How to do the glute bridge right
- Lie flat on your back and raise your legs so that your feet are together and are flat on the ground;
- Pull your toes up so that only your heels are touching the floor;
- Lift your buttocks off the ground and raise it so far that your shoulders, buttocks, and knees create a straight line;
- Lay your upper body, one vertebra at a time, slowly onto the ground and repeat the exercise.
What happens when the bird dog is performed properly?
It activates the posterior chain, especially the glutes. It can also correct you.
Exercise #5: Plank
What are the most common mistakes when it comes to planking?
Most people either have their hips too low or too high and look ahead.
How to plank properly
- Support your body on your forearms and toes;
- Tighten your abs by pulling your belly button slightly inward;
- Ensure your cervical spine is aligned with your upper body and legs;
- Look downwards;
- Hold this position.
What happens when the plank is performed right?
It allows you to fully concentrate on the tension in your core.