How to Perfect Your Form

You'll only get something out of your workout if your form is right, so keep these tips in mind.

Feb 15, 2012
Outside Magazine
Exercising form

Pay attention to your form when exercising    Photo: Outside Magazine

You're in a dumpy motel with no gym. Fine. Just lounge in your underwear, watch bad TV, and work out. All you need is the floor to bust out some push-ups, crunches, and squats, right? Wrong. Without proper form, you're wasting your time. So we got Athletes' Performance founder Mark Verstegen to tell you how to make the classics count.

PUSH-UP: With hands at sides and thumbs parallel to mid-chest, keep back and shoulders aligned, push up until before elbows lock. Hold for a beat; lower until elbows are at 90 degrees, slightly tucked in. Keep chest up and head down.

CRUNCH: With heels on the floor, hands laced behind head, and chin slightly tucked, crunch sternum toward hips, rolling upward until shoulders are four to six inches off the floor. Hold for two beats before reversing in a steady, controlled movement.

SQUAT: With feet shoulder width apart, toes forward, hands on thighs, "unlock" hips and squat as you reach arms up and out. The movement should come from the hips, and thighs should be parallel to the ground or close. Maintain a neutral spine, without letting your pelvis tuck under. Keep your shoulders, knees, and toes aligned. Keep chest up, shoulders down and back, and feet flat. (For all of these, remember to exhale through exertion.)