Disclaimer: This is not a step by step guide on how to perform various exercises. This list is more of common offenders that we often do not realize we do or know how to fix. Think of this as some easy to remember cues for some common movements.
Some of these cues are ones that others have said to me that have stuck with me. I cannot take credit for all!
Everyone responds differently to cues and sometimes as a Personal Trainer, I have to get creative to guide clients on how to properly perform movements. The five below are common things I see and by giving some silly but memorable cues, it has helped clients fix form.
- Tits Up!
Ok so this expression may be of military origin (and also frequently said in one of my favorite TV shows, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) but it also applies to exercises.
For instance, in a squat, one of the components of good form is keeping your chest/torso up. You want to avoid the barbell or dumbbell pulling your chest forward. So I like to say to my clients, “Tits up!” and that cue sticks with them.
2. Lunge Like You Are On Train Tracks
One common mistake we make with forward (and backward) lunges, is having our feet placement too close together, both in the setup and in the movement itself. I like to tell clients to imagine they are standing on train tracks. Their right leg, knee and foot should always track on the right and the left on the left. This is a great reminder to make sure feet are that distance apart and that we do not cross one leg behind or too close to the other. (Unless you want some serious knee problems!)
3. Squeezing Lemons in Your Armpits.
For many movements, the proper form involves keeping our arms at our sides and avoiding flaring out to the side. Think of a push-up for example. Our arms should be at our sides the entire movement. Same as Standing Bent Over Rows.
To help avoid that common flare out, imagine that as you perform the entire movement, you are trying to squeeze lemons in your arm-pits. Keep that squeezing motion because if you stop squeezing, those figurative lemons would fall.
4. Dip Like There Is a Wall Behind You.
Push Press is a great way to create some momentum with the legs to drive a barbell or dumbbells overhead to work the upper body.
One common thing I see clients do incorrectly is they get into a squat instead of a dip. I like to tell them to dip like there is a wall behind them. They should slide up and down the wall as opposed to smack their butt or back into it.
When dipping in a Push Press, the pelvis and torso should be in a neutral position. Try doing the dip against a wall and you will know instantly if the dip is wrong.
Also, if unable to get that proper dip and find that you are getting more into a squat, it is possible the weight is too heavy. Think about decreasing the load.
Speaking of squats…
5. Stop Squatting Like an Oompa Loompa
The set up for a squat is EVERYTHING. One of the first things where it goes wrong is that there is a tendency to just drop like an Oompa Loompa (if you’ve seen Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, you can easily conjure up the scene of them dancing).
You want to do the opposite. Imagine sending your hips and butt back like you are literally trying to sit on a chair.
I hope these 5 quick cues help you! I would love to hear back from you if you implement them and how they help.