How To Tell if You’re Doing an Exercise Incorrectly

Have you ever tried a new workout and ended up in pain for a few days with a pulled muscle or some other type of unexpected injury? Don’t worry, I’ve been there, too. It can be fun to try new workouts (hello, AcroYoga!) but if you don’t take extra care to ensure you’re performing the exercises properly, you can easily hurt your body.

To help you avoid injuries in the future, here are my top tips for recognizing when you’re doing an exercise incorrectly. (You’re welcome).

You Experience Pain

You know the old saying, “Pain is gain”? Well … that isn’t always the case. It’s normal to feel some physical discomfort when you exercise, but you shouldn’t feel pain. The minute your body sends pain signals your way is the minute you need to stop what you’re doing and analyze your form.

When I mention pain, I mean during the exercise itself, not afterward. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to avoid the muscle pain that inevitably develops after a good workout. But if you’re doing squats and your knees are screaming at you, there’s no reason to be a tough guy or gal and keep punishing them. Pushing through intense pain can cause long-lasting damage to your joints and soft tissues.

So the next time you feel like your shoulder is going to burst out of its socket while you’re doing lateral arm raises, stop what you’re doing. Your body is trying to tell you it can’t complete that motion right now. You might try other exercises that target the shoulder muscles or simply give your shoulders a break until they feel better.

You Feel Sore for Days After a Workout

Some muscle soreness is normal after a good workout and can be an indication that your workouts are delivering results. But if you’re sore for days after your sweat session, you’re probably working too hard and taxing your body too much.

Muscle soreness happens as a result of tearing your muscles down. The muscles then repair themselves (which is why getting sufficient rest after a workout is important). Don’t worry, the muscle tear-down process is normal and is the primary way to get stronger, more defined muscles.

While some muscle damage from a workout is normal and even desirable, you don’t want to tear your muscles down too much. If you’re feeling sore for days at a time after your workouts, you’re most likely tearing your muscles down more than you should. Try to cut back a little on your workout intensity until the soreness becomes less pronounced and long-lasting.

You’re Dreading Your Workout Sessions

Working out should feel good (even though it pushes your body outside of its comfort zone). Exercise releases endorphins and increases oxygen delivery to your body’s various tissues. Though it’s normal to feel a little bit lazy when your scheduled workout rolls around, it’s not normal to dread your workout sessions.

If you’re feeling anxious about working out, you’re probably pushing yourself too hard. At the end of a good workout, you should feel energized and accomplished, not exhausted and depressed. To bring the fun back into your workouts, go gentle on your body and don’t push it too hard. You can also make your sweat sessions more fun by inviting a friend to work out with you.

Make Your Workouts Enjoyable

You can’t enjoy a workout if you’re doing the exercises wrong, trust me. If you leave the gym feeling like you’ve just been beaten up, you’re most likely doing at least one of your exercises with improper form or too much intensity. Listen to your body and learn how to recognize the common indications that you’re doing an exercise wrong. Then stop the exercise or take the time to learn how to get your form right before you continue.