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Are you training your upper body wrong?

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You’ve heard it before: Quality before quantity. This goes for your Freeletics training too. You can do numerous reps or put as much weight as possible on your bar, but this won’t count if your execution is wrong. Risking injury or missing out on results may be the consequence if you don’t master your technique. Lucky for you, today’s the day you start doing it. Here’s some common upper body training mistakes and how to avoid them.

Let’s start with Bodyweight exercises.

Pushups

Everyone knows them, everyone does them. But not everyone does them right.

Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/embed/hLbjdCJ5-2w

Common mistakes:

  1.  Elbows are not fully extended in the upper position and exceed 90 degrees in the lower position.
  2.  Hands don’t leave the floor.
  3.  Shoulders and hips don’t leave the floor at the same time.

How to correct them:

  1.  Completely stretch your arms when going up and use your full range of motion on the way down, pressing your chest on the ground.
  2.  Hands leave the ground between the repetitions.
  3.  Keep your glutes and core tight so as your body stays in one straight line. Pull your shoulder blades together.

Strict Handstand Pushups

This exercise is destined for advanced Athletes as it demands a very strong upper body as well as core strength. It requires a lot of practice and the right technique.

Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/embed/UiN7Ym7nhW4

Common mistakes:

  1.  Hands are positioned too far away from the wall causing an arched back.
  2.  Arms are not fully extended in the upper position.
  3.  The lowering of the body is uncontrolled. Most beginners fear that their head touches the ground.

How to correct them:

  1.  Don’t be a banana. Get closer to the wall. Hold your back straight. Stretch your arms until they are straight. Keep your shoulders tight.
  2.  Your head needs to touch the ground. Make every repetition count.
  3.  Elbows may not exceed 90 degrees.

Now, for three major Gym exercises.

Upper Body I: Bench Press & Bench Row

This #1 strength couplet targets your total chest and total back. Bulk up your upper body by working on opposite muscle groups.

Bench press

Hyped as the classic and standard weight exercise, it deserves a technical review. Let’s face the most typical bench blunders.

Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/embed/AMZPxVNHwpc

Common mistakes:

  1.  Having your elbows at 90 degrees to your torso.
  2.  Not engaging your shoulder blades.
  3.  Keeping your feet off the ground.

How to correct them:

  1.  Elbows at an angle of about 75 degrees would be perfectly right. But don’t worry. You don’t need a set square to hit a sublime 75.
  2.  Pull your shoulder blades together throughout the entire movement. Keeping this simple cue in your mind, you will be able to lift much more weight.
  3.  Keep your feet on ground. The stability from your feet is necessary to press high weights. Also engage your torso to remain solid.

Bent Rows

With this movement you can both build and break your back. So consider these cues to protect it during your workout.

Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/embed/iAa94Ltk1IM

Common mistakes:

  1.  Rounding your lower back.
  2.  From “bar touches the chest” to “elbows fully extended” – not performing the full range of motion for all reps.
  3.  Using momentum to lift the bar.

How to correct them:

  1.  Keep your back straight and in a neutral position at all times. One cue is lifting up your hips without lifting your entire torso.
  2.  Go down with the weights. The range of motion is very important in terms of effectivity.
  3.  During the whole exercise only the arms are moving. If you need momentum to pull the bar to the chest, your weights are probably too heavy.

Pull Ups

The most common test of strength, pull ups are a lot harder than they seem. Many struggle with more than 5 repetitions, so when speed it the main focus, technique goes out the window.

Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/embed/WjG3f6e1ohs

Common mistakes:

  1.  Starting the movement when the elbows are not fully extended, which makes it much easier but isn’t correct or efficient.
  2.  Losing the tension in the upper position and letting your body “fall” into the lower position, which puts a lot of stress on your shoulders.
  3.  Swinging your legs. This reduces the amount of work done by the back and arms.
  4.  Hunching your back to finish a rep.

How to correct them:

  1.  Before you start off, hang actively with your arms locked out. Feet are not touching the floor.
  2.  Engage your trunk and control the downward movement.
  3.  Let your legs hang completely still with your knees straight or bent so that your heels are crossed behind your body.
  4.  Keep your shoulders and back tight.

If you’ve just found out that you blundered into one or several of these training traps, be reassured: you’re certainly not the only one and it’s never too late to improve. How you should continue: Watch our instruction videos in the apps carefully. When you train in a gym, use the mirror to check if your posture is right. It’s always helpful to ask a training buddy for correction and to take a video of you working out. Trust your instincts: If a movement does not feel good, then you may perform it poorly. Simple adjustments of your posture can make huge difference in your training results. So, keep on challenging yourself. Don’t let these mistakes hold you back from achieving your goal any longer.