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The Importance of Proper Form: 15 Dangerous Workout Mistakes

The Importance of Proper Form: 15 Dangerous Workout Mistakes
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The Importance of Proper Form: 15 Dangerous Workout Mistakes
If you have ever started a fitness routine that finally works, you probably know that distinct moment when you realize it’s not only giving you results but feels good, too! Far too often, though, people jump right into an online routine or try keeping up with a group class. While your excitement and motivation is inspiring, you must be cautious of overdoing yourself without first learning proper form or else you may injure yourself.

The Importance of Proper Form During Exercise

Before we go further, there is one distinction that needs to be made between technique and form. People often use ‘technique’ and ‘form’ interchangeably and although it’s subtle, the difference exists. Technique is how you use muscles to perform exercises that target and maximize certain muscle groups. Form, on the other hand, is what you can do to prevent injury.

While improper technique may hinder your desired results, improper form can lead to injuries that limit your ability to exercise at all. That said, executing your exercises with proper form will help prevent injury, produce stellar (even visible) results, and increase your chances of growing both older and stronger.[1] Below you can find a list of the most common mistakes you should try to avoid in your own fitness routine.

14 Form Mistakes You Need to Stop Making

We have outlined the most common mistakes when it comes to form. But if you would like to see what each looks like and why it’s dangerous, watch this accompanying video:

  1. Hyperextending your spine when doing back exercises
  2. Not lowering you’re your heels below the platform during standing calf raises
  3. Gripping a dumbbell in the middle during overhead triceps extension which puts pressure on the joints instead of muscles
  4. Arching your back and raising your head during one-arm dumbbell rows
  5. Rounding your back and shoulders and not going lower enough during any kind of squat
  6. Twisting your knee sideways when doing lunges
  7. Bench pressing with an uneven load (i.e., knees are incorrectly bent, back is straight, and the barbell is shifted forward)
  8. Standing too far away from a platform that you’re stepping onto
  9. Not keeping your legs and arms vertical before a deadlift
  10. Gripping the barbell incorrectly and letting it rest on your neck
  11. Letting your knees go beyond your toes when you squat
  12. Planking without keeping your back straight (i.e., either rounding or hyperextending your back)
  13. Leaning too far forward and improperly bending your knees during side lunges
  14. Overarching your back when you do hip bridges

Although countless exercises exist, they all share similar consequences if done improperly. From uneven loads that strain and place pressure on muscles and joints to damaging the neck and spine to an exercise simply becoming ineffective. Whether you’re dancing or weight lifting, the potential negative effects just listed emphasize why proper form is essential to any form of fitness.

12 Other Ways to Prevent Injury During Exercise

In addition to proper form, there are other ways you can prevent injury from happening during exercise. Most of these are easy to do and take no time at all. So, it’s worth taking the extra time to be safe before jumping right into a workout.[2,3]

  • Work with a personal trainer for a few sessions to learn proper form
  • Do not lift heavy weights right away, especially without knowing form first
  • Take your time; quality of form is more important than quantity of reps
  • Wear proper shoes (i.e., for hiking, running, walking, cross training, group fitness classes)
  • Form is important, but knowing correct technique for certain workouts is key
  • Always warm up and stretch before workouts to improve blood flow and reduce muscle stiffness
  • Use personally tailored workouts to strengthen your body’s weak points
  • Take a slow walk or do a gentle stretch after your workouts to cool down and maintain flexibility
  • Be sure to always have a bottle of water near you to stay hydrated
  • Routine is helpful but it doesn’t have to be boring; varying your workouts can target different muscle groups and allow you to recover
  • Listen to your body; the “no pain, no gain” mentality is not an effective way to prevent injury
  • You may want to keep working out but knowing when to stop is important to allow your body to rest for 1 to 2 days a week


[1] The Importance of Proper Technique and Form to Your Workout. (n.d.). Retrieved October 06, 2017, from
[2] Workout Injuries: Prevention and Treatment. (n.d.). Retrieved October 06, 2017, from
[3] Publishing, H. H. (n.d.). 10 tips to prevent injuries when you exercise. Retrieved October 06, 2017, from

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