8 Bodyweight Exercises You’re Doing Wrong (& How to Fix Them)

Couple doing pushups at training in gym

Can you do 30 pushups nonstop?

Great!

Now, can you do the pushups without losing form?

Right now you might be wondering what’s the difference between the two.

I mean, a push-up is just a push-up.

Couldn’t be further from the truth.

Like other classic exercises, such as the squat, most trainees think they know what a proper push-up should look like, and assume they’re doing it right.

But, as my experience has taught me, it’s not  always the case.

In fact, few could pass the push-up proper form test.

8 Bodyweight Exercises You’re Doing Wrong (& How to Fix Them)

Here’s a no surprise: Your exercises are only effective if you’re performing them the right way.

Form is king. And you’re better off not training at all if you’re doing it with bad form.

Bad technique won’t only hinder your fitness gains, but could also lead to serious injury, and ain’t nobody got time for that, am I right?

So, if you’re going to go the trouble of carving up time from your schedule to work up a good sweat, then you got to, at the very least, do it right.

In today’s post, I’ll drop on you some bodyweight training bombs that you’ll force to rethink the way you’re performing these simple yet elusive moves.

1. Bodyweight Squats

Also known as air squats, these are one of the most effective bodyweight exercises of all times.

 

Squats increase lower body strength and endurance, shed mad calories, promote mobility and balance, and improve functional fitness.

Nevertheless, since squats are so easy to perform, proper form is usually ignored.

Here is the bad news:

Improper squat technique can cause knee and lower body pain. Not to mention it’s a complete waste of time.

Here are some of the common mistakes:

  • Rounding the shoulders and curving the back as you squat.
  • Excessive forward knee bending until they extend past the toes.
  • Knees falling inward or outward.
  • Dumping weight into the toes, which places strain on the knee joints.
  • Misalignment of the knees and toes.

How to Do The Squat Right

  1. Stand with feet hip-width distance apart, toes facing forward. Keep in mind that it’s okay to assume close or wide stances. Reach your arms straight out in front of you, palms facing down.
  2. While engaging your abs by pulling the navel up and in towards your spine, shift your weight into your heels.
  3. Lower down by bending the knees and sitting your hips back as if you’re going to sit in a chair. Keep your back as flat as possible throughout the movement, with the shoulders squeezed back down, and knees in line with the toes.
  4. Lower your butt until your thighs and hips are parallel, or as low as possible without breaking form.
  5. Exhale to rise back up to standing.

2. Push-Ups

Pushups may seem like the most basic of all bodyweight exercises, but, as previously stated, most do not perform them properly.

Not only bad push-up form is a waste of time and energy, but could also lead to lower back pain and severe shoulder and wrist issues.

Here are some of the common push-up pitfalls:

 

  • Lifting the butt high in the air.
  • Performing half a push-up—not going low or high enough.
  • Sinking the hips down.
  • Holding the breath.
  • Placing the palms in front of the shoulders.
  • Keeping the chin too close to the chest.
  • Poor head position.
  • Putting the hands too far forward.
  • Not fully straightening the arms on the push-up.

Here is How to Perform Push-ups The Right Way

  1. Place your hands underneath your shoulders, then extend your legs straight out behind you. Keep your head in a neutral position, arms and hands slightly below your shoulders, with the fingers pointing forwards.
  2. Tighten your core, squeeze your butt, then lower your body until your chest is an inch or two above the floor, elbows pulling back at about a 45-degree angle.
  3. Last up, push your torso away from the floor until your arms locks, then repeat.

3. Side Lunges

This is a unique variation of the standard lunge that builds strength in the hamstring, abductors, quadriceps, and glutes. This lateral exercise is also great for coordination.

When side lunges are performed incorrectly, they can result in pain or injury to the lower back, hips, and knees.

Here are some of the common form errors.

  • Not keeping the torso upright
  • Not keeping the chest up, back straight, and core engaged
  • Extending the knees out too far
  • Stepping too wide while performing the side lunge movement
  • Not keeping the weight on the heels
  • Not keeping the toes in line with the lunging knee.

Here is how to Perform Side Lunges The Right Way

  1. Assume an athletic position with your feet together, knees and hips slightly bent, and head and chest up.
  2. On the inhale, take a slow, lateral step to the right side, then bend into the right knee and sit your hips back as you’re going to sit in a chair.
  3. Stay low, while keeping the weight in your heel and bending your knee to a 90-degree angle, knee staying in line with the toes.
  4. Exhale and press through the right heel to straighten the leg and step back to starting position.
  5. Switch sides and repeat.

4. The Bridge

Also known as the hip raise, the bridge is a fantastic pose for increasing strength in the hamstrings, back, and glutes.

When performed incorrectly, the bridge can lead to neck, lower, back, or knee issues.

Here are some of the common blunders:

  • Lengthening the muscles within the quads
  • Having the feet too close to the butt.
  • Lifting the heels off the ground
  • Not keeping the toes in line the knees

Here is How to Perform The Bridge The Right Way

  1. Begin by lying down flat on your back. Pull your shoulders down.
  2. Place your arms alongside your body, then bend your knees and place your feet on the ground, hip-width distance apart.
  3. Walk your feet back towards your butt, then, on the inhale, press into your arms and feet to lift your hips towards the ceiling. Squeeze your glutes as you rise to create a straight line from your knees to shoulders.
  4. While keeping your knees, hips, and chest aligned, hold the top of the movement for three to ten seconds. Do not let your hips sag or drop.
  5. Slowly lower down, and repeat.

5. Lunges

Another fantastic lower body exercise for building up the glutes and the quads.

Lunges also help improve coordination and balance, and they’re great for improving proprioception.

But they are also extremely and commonly easy to get wrong. Bad technique doesn’t just look sloppy; it could also cause injury.

Avoid these common pitfalls:

  • Bending the torso forward
  • Leaning forward or back
  • Turning the foot inward
  • Externally rotating the back knee
  • Lowering the rear knee too fast
  • Not maintaining a straight back
  • Losing balance
  • Taking very short strides forward or backward
  • Extending the knee past the toes on the lunge
  • Shifting the weight from the heel to the toes—or riding the toes.
  • Pushing the hips forward

Here is How to Perform Lunges The Right Way

 

  1. Assume an athletic position, with the feet hip-width apart, back flat, and core engaged.
  2. Step with your right foot forward as far as possible. Take a slow, controlled, step forward with your right leg as far as possible. Your front heel is roughly two feet in front of your rear knee as it bends toward the ground.
  3. While keeping the weight in the heels and spine flat, lower your body until both of your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Avoid leaning back or forward throughout the movement.
  4. Hold for a moment, then take a big step forward with your left leg.
  5. Keep alternating the legs to move forward across the floor.

6. Plank

The plank is one of the most basic core exercises out there, but it’s not as simple as you might think.

Planks are versatile exercises that increase core strength and relieve lower back. But if performed wrong, they can do more harm than good.

Here are some of the common form errors:

  • Not engaging the core muscles
  • Sinking the hips
  • Arching the back
  • Looking up straight ahead
  • Tilting the hips
  • Positioning the hands too far apart
  • Placing the arms behind or in front of the shoulders
  • Lifting up the hips too high
  • Bringing the shoulders beyond the elbows
  • Not engaging the legs and butt

Proper Form

  1. Begin on your knees and hands in the classic tabletop position.
  2. Position your elbows underneath your shoulder, then tuck your toes and lift your knees off the floor, and look straight toward the floor. Your body should form a perfectly straight line from the crown of your head to the heels
  3. Engage your shoulder muscles and keep your neck aligned in neutral position, feet together, and toes touching the ground.
  4. Readjust your hand position until your wrists are lined up under your shoulders.
  5. Hold the plank position for as long as possible without losing form.

7. Burpees

Last, but not least, one of my favorite bodyweight exercises—the notorious burpee.

This is a staple in my bodyweight training and an exercise every trainee should add to their workout routines—regardless of their fitness level and training goals.

I cannot emphasize it enough.

Burpees are a beast.

This full body plyometric exercise burns mad calories, builds strength and endurance, and revs up fitness level and conditioning like nothing else.

Since burpees consist of at least five movements—push-up, jump, squat, jump, then squat again—few trainees perform them correctly.

Here are a few of the sad burpees errors that bring tears to my eyes (sorta).

  • Going too fast while ignoring proper
  • Not properly stabilizing the core.
  • Allowing for the back to sag when doing the push-up.
  • Holding the breath.
  • Sacrificing reps for form.
  • Etc

Here is how to Nail Proper burpee Form

  1. Assume an athletic position, then, while keeping your knees facing straight, lower into a squat and place your hands directly in front your toes.
  2. With control, walk or kick your feet behind you, so your shoulders are directly over the hands—that’s basic plank position.
  3. Perform a pushup with proper form (as shown before), then jump or walk your feet forward to meet your hands.
  4. Immediately explode straight up off the ground, clapping your hands overhead.
  5. Land softly into the squat position and repeat.