How to do them: Standing with your feet hip-distance apart, tighten up your core as if you were bracing for a punch to the gut. Then shift your weight into your heels and press your hips back, keeping your abdominal muscles tight. Bend your knees and slowly lower into a squat. Your knees should be in line with your second toe. Go as low as you feel comfortable going, and hold for a count of two. Straighten your legs to rise. Standing and lowering into the squat should take the same amount of time.
You're doing them wrong if... Your lower back feels strained. You should feel the burn in your thighs and butt.
How to do them: Start on your hands and knees with your hands directly under your shoulders and your bent knees behind your hips. Your arms should be straight. Bend your elbows, lowering your chest toward the floor. Make sure to keep your elbows fairly close to the sides of your body and keep your torso in a straight line from your knees to your head. Hold for a count of two and then return to your starting position by pushing up through the heels and outer portions of your palms.
You're doing them wrong if... You're not feeling the burn in your shoulders, arms, and chest. If it feels too easy, tuck your elbows in, check your hand placement, and make sure your knees are far back enough to make the move challenging.
How to do them: Sit on the edge of a chair, keeping your back straight and your feet directly below your knees. Take a dumbbell in each hand and hold them down by your sides. Your palms should be facing forward and your wrists should be in line with your forearms. Pull your shoulders down and back. Keeping your elbows in and your arms close to your sides, draw both weights up to your shoulders and hold for a count of two. Lower the weights and return your arms to your sides.
You're doing them wrong if... If your wrists feel pinched or strained. The main areas you should be feeling are your biceps and forearms.
Next: Shoulder presses, dumbbell rows, and more...
How to do them: Stand with feet hip-distance apart with a dumbbell in each hand. Curl the dumbbells up to shoulder level, with your elbows tight to your sides and your palms facing away from your body. Take a deep breath. As you exhale, push both arms up overhead and hold for a count of two. Breathing in, bend your elbows to return to your starting position.
You're doing them wrong if... You find your back arching with strain. You should be feeling your shoulders and arms working, not your back.
How to do them: Take a dumbbell in one hand. Assume a split stance with one leg slightly in front of the other. Keeping your back straight and abs tight, fold over at the hips. Rest your free hand on your back thigh for support, and bend into your front knee. Keeping your arms and elbows tight to your body, breathe out as you draw your elbows straight back toward the ceiling. Hold for two counts. Inhale and lower the weight without twisting your torso.
You're doing them wrong if... Your torso is rotating during the row or if your shoulders are scrunched up by your ears. You should feel your back muscles working.
How to do them: With dumbbells in each hand, lie down on a bench or the floor, with your knees bent and feet firmly grounded. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees, with your palms facing away from you, holding the dumbbells level with your chest and directly above the armpits. Breathe in. As you exhale, press your arms overhead until your elbows are straight. Hold for a count of two. Inhale and bend your elbows to return your arms to their starting position.
You're doing them wrong if... Your back is arching. Concentrate on keeping your back in contact with the ground so you feel the move in your shoulders, arms, and chest.
How to do them: Start with your feet together and step out to hip-distance, keeping your core tight. Take a small step out to the side, keeping your toes facing forward, and begin to shift weight into the leg you stepped out with. Your knee should be directly over your second toe. Push your hips back as you bend your knee and lower your thigh toward the ground. Hold for a count of two. Push off your heel to return to your starting position.
You're doing them wrong if... You're taking too big a step to the side. Keep it small enough that your knee stays over your toes. Expect to feel it in the butt, thigh, and calf.
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