4 Common Exercises You’re Doing Wrong

4 Common Exercises You’re Doing Wrong

Just because a move is “good,” or a key movement pattern to perform, or something really frequently included as a staple in many routines, doesn’t mean you deserve to do it.

Every movement variation has to be earned.

And doing a harder variation we can’t truly control or utilize to the fullest will actually hold us back. It won’t allow us to get as much out of the exercise and our workouts as doing an “easier” exercise actually could.

Often, if you do a move actually modified to your current needs and goals, you may feel the muscles being worked harder because everything is engaged correctly.

That’s why I wanted to talk about 4 exercises that are often in programming that people aren’t maximizing – 4 moves we don’t fully give them credit for being the challenging exercises they actually are.

And not only do I want to go over the reason to use these moves but the common mistakes I see people making and also the modifications we should be using instead to EARN these harder variations!

Exercise #1: Balance Lunges or Bulgarian Split Squats

The balance lunge or Bulgarian split squat is an amazing unilaterally-focused leg exercise.

Yet so often we aren’t really getting the true benefit of our back foot being raised up on a bench or in a suspension trainer.

While yes, the automatic instability of raising that back foot up does make it more challenging no matter what, the true point of putting your back foot up is to increase the range of motion you are working through.

Yet so often we place our foot up on something only to repeat the same range of motion we would when doing a split squat off the ground!

Sometimes the range of motion is even smaller actually because we aren’t stable and haven’t yet learned how to control the full split squat movement.

And on top of that, so often because we “can do” the move, we start to even add loads and completely miss out on the full benefit of this variation.

We have to remember that loads are not the only way to progress an exercise.

And that, if you’re going to include the Balance Lunge, you need to make sure you can utilize the increased range of motion. That is what creates the progression and benefit of this movement.

From there you can add loads, change tempos and even use different ways of creating that extended range of motion to adjust instability.

But you need to utilize the full range of motion first.

If you can’t work through the full extended range of motion, you may want to start with a lower bench or box to reduce the mobility and stability demands. Slowly increase the range of motion instead of just jumping to a bench.

You may even find right now you struggle to fully come to the ground during the basic split squat.

If that is the case, start with a basic split squat, even starting the movement from the ground to fully have to learn to control the complete range of motion!

Exercise #2: Double Leg Lowers

Double leg lowers have become an extremely popular ab exercise. But so often we end up feeling our lower backs or hip flexors over really targeting our abs.

In an attempt to correct this and do this harder variation we haven’t earned, we place our hands behind our lower backs and butts.

But this is a band aid. It doesn’t teach us to actually control the ab brace we need so we can build up.

It’s why we may need to regress to progress.

Because leg lower type movements, while they WILL work your hip flexors, are a great way to target that lower portion of the rectus abdominis more or what we often refer to as the “lower abs.”

And knowing how to brace correctly to protect your spine as you flex and extend your hips is also beneficial as you work to improve your heavier lifts!

So if you find your lower back engaging or only your hip flexors working, you can modify the double leg lowers in a few different ways.

But the key is learning to engage your abs using that posterior pelvic tilt.

This is a small movement that engages your abs and glutes.

Think about tilting your pelvis toward your ribs. Hold here as you do any movement in the progression whether it’s a single knee tuck, really taking things back to back to basics, double knee tuck or even single leg lower.

Only progress to the next level if you can maintain that ab brace and not feel your lower back taking over!

And if you do find you fatigue once you’ve built up to the double leg lowers, don’t push through. Instead modify with one of these variations so you can continue to target your abs.

Because we have to remember that the muscles we feel working are the ones getting the “benefit” of the movement. And if the correct muscles aren’t working we may be perpetuating recruitment patterns that lead to overload and injury…not to mention don’t actually work the muscles we want to target!

Exercise #3: Burpee

Love them or hate them, the burpee is often a staple in workout routines.

While many of us do recognize it is hard, it requires a lot more strength and mobility than we recognize.

And because the purpose of the burpee is almost always to be “cardio,” in an attempt to go as fast as possible, the quality of the movement often suffers.

We end up doing the worm during the push up portion. Or shrugging our shoulders in the plank. Or we land with our knees completely straight after performing a half-hearted jump at the top.

And sometimes, in an attempt to modify, we step back, but then to stand up, we end up having to do these stutter steps to bring our feet into our hands because we don’t have the mobility to truly step in far enough.

The burpee is a killer bodyweight move. And if you plan to include it, you need to earn it.

While yes, you can use the step back to reduce impact if you do have the range of motion to control the movement…and while yes, you can take out the push up to modify it as well so you don’t end up doing the worm, if you want to truly build up to that full burpee, try instead using an incline.

If you’ve been working to improve your push ups and build toward that full perfect push up from our toes, you may have been using an incline. And if you aren’t, start!

The incline can be a great way to reduce the load on our upper body and core so we can perform the push up correctly.

The incline also reduces the mobility demands during the burpee. It takes a lot more mobility than we realize to jump back in to efficiently stand up. Because your hands are raised, you need less hip and ankle mobility to jump back in and stand up.

As you feel comfortable with this move and can move quickly while performing quality reps, you can then lower the incline over time!

Exercise #4: Single Leg Glute Bridge

The bodyweight glute bridge may seem easy, but it’s a move that is so often done incorrectly. And then so often, before we’ve really earned it, we switch to the single leg glute bridge.

We may try to use the single leg glute bridge to get some unilateral benefits and work each side independently, but we have to recognize that it is a big jump in progression from the basic bodyweight glute bridge.

So before we even try the single leg variation, we need to make sure our glutes are actually powering the basic glute bridge. We don’t want our hamstrings or lower back compensating instead.

We don’t want to barely be able to lift up and trying the single leg variation or arching up super high because we’re hyperextended our lower backs.

A few key cues to help you better engage your glutes during even the basic bodyweight glute bridge are…

1. Before lifting perform the posterior pelvic tilt, tucking your hips toward your ribs. Maintain this throughout the bridge and don’t let your lower back arch to lift up higher.

2. Drive your knees toward your toes as you lift so you don’t push yourself backward and end up using more hamstring.

3. Engage your upper back, bending your elbows to drive your upper arms into the ground so you can focus on that pure hip extension.

Once you can control that basic glute bridge, you can then move into an 80/20 variation. This will allow you to focus more on one side or the other while still having a bit of assistance.

We have to remember that the full unilateral or single leg glute bridge isn’t just us having to lift all the weight on one side, but it is also us having to stabilize our pelvis and balance.

While still a simple move and bodyweight, it is more of an advancement than we give it credit for.

That’s why the 80/20 variation can be a good in-between so we can actually target each side while still working through a full range of motion targeting the glutes.

As you do feel ready to progress, just make sure your hamstrings and lower back aren’t engaging and taking over. This move is powered by your glutes!


Every move we include in our workouts should be done with a purpose. And we should only advance moves as we EARN those harder variations.

Sometimes, as much as it can hurt our ego, it is key we regress to progress and build up.

We are never above those basics and, at times, taking things back a step can help us improve any weak links!

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Are You Lunging WRONG? 3 Tips To FIX Your Lunge

Are You Lunging WRONG? 3 Tips To FIX Your Lunge

The lunge, in all its many forms, is so often blamed for knee pain.

But moves are only as good as their implementation. And we need to understand there is a difference between going through the motions and mimicking proper form and actually getting the correct muscles working.

Too often we end up demonizing this amazing move instead of learning to properly control it and load muscles correctly.

And that overload is what leads to the pain. When you don’t engage the correct muscles to power the movement can prevent us from seeing the full benefit of all the amazing lunge variations out there.

We don’t take time to see all of the tweaks to form we can make to work around previous injuries, adjust to our specific builds and mobility restrictions not to mention even us variations based on our specific needs and goals.

That’s why I want to share 3 key form cues I use to help client’s get more out of this amazing move while avoiding those common mistakes we often make that lead to aches and pains.

Because we have to remember that form isn’t as binary as we make it out to be. There are so many slight adjustments we can make to get more out of exercises so they fit our needs and goals!


3 Key Cues To Improve Your Lunge Form:

#1: Maintain A More Vertical Shin Angle:

Ever hear someone say “You’re knee can’t go over your toes during lunging.”

This isn’t completely true, BUT we need to understand why this statement came about.

When our knee does travel further forward over our foot, there will be more loading of our quads. This is what, especially if we have previous knee issues or a lack of ankle mobility, can lead to lunges causing knee pain.

So while you can actually INTENTIONALLY preform lunge variations this way to strengthen your quads, you do want to know the drawbacks.

You also want to make sure you have the proper ankle mobility to do this variation while keeping your heel firmly planted on the ground.

Since so many of us struggle to activate our glutes, not to mention lack ideal ankle and even hip mobility, it may be helpful for us to avoid this positioning and instead focus more on maintaining a more vertical shin angle with our front lower leg.

When you maintain that more vertical shin angle, you can actually engage your glutes more and make the move slightly more hip dominant. This can be key to help you avoid overloading your quads and therefore your knees.

It can also simply be a tweak you use to target those glutes more during your lunge work.

So if you struggle with quad dominance and getting your glutes to work, focus on that knee being aligned over your ankle as you lunge, whether doing a static lunge, reverse lunge or even front lunge!

#2: Keep Your Weight Centered:

Too often when we are moving forward or backward in a lunge, we let ourselves actually become off balance which can lead to us overloading the muscles that support our knees.

Even though with lunges you can move in every direction, you want to be conscious to truly keep your weight more centered so you can smoothly push back to standing with no stutter steps.

You want to correctly engage your front AND back legs as they are both working together even if different muscles in each leg are working to different extents.

One of the best ways to help learn how to keep your weight centered is by first making sure you’ve mastered that static lunge or split squat.

To do this move, start half kneeling on the ground with your back knee about under your hip and your front knee over your ankle so your shin is vertical. Push the ball of your back foot and your entire front foot into the ground. Even think about your front foot as a tripod, two points in the ball of your foot and one in your heel.

Squeeze your back glute and make sure to drive through both feet as you push up to standing. Make sure you use that front glute to prevent your front knee from caving in.

Focus on pushing the ground away to stand then controlling that lower down.

You may find you want to shift forward instead of driving straight up, which is often what happens when we add movement to the lunge and creates the knee overload.

So first you must learn to control this static lunge and build mobility to perform it properly BEFORE you progress to adding in more movement.

Regress to progress!

Then as you begin to introduce movement, you can keep the lunges more shallow to focus on that weight being centered. Even implementing a PAUSE at the bottom as you do begin to lunge longer and deeper can be a great way to get to assess where your weight is and correct any shifts.

Remember you have to earn those harder variations. You don’t want to just mimic movements. You want to make sure the correct muscles are working!

#3: Focus On Your Foot’s Connection To The Ground (Back AND Front Feet):

Our feet are our foundation. Instability there creates instability up our entire legs.

That’s why it’s key you start your lunges by focusing on your feet. And not just the foot of your moving leg but both feet to engage the muscles of both legs correctly.

When you move through any lunge, think about that front foot as that tripod as you sink. Drive off your entire foot to stand back up.

Note if you are rocking out or in on your foot or if you find your foot turning in or out. You’ll notice small changes in the muscles you’re using and even your knee alignment.

By really focusing on driving off that entire foot, you’ll better use the muscles of your legs and glutes correctly and even avoid any knee overload. You’ll help yourself keep your weight more centered.

By focusing on your foot’s connection to the ground you can also avoid your knee collapsing in which can be a huge source of knee aches and pains.

And then don’t ignore your back foot as well.

While you may only be on the ball of that back foot, proper tension into the ground can help you better use that glute to drive the hip extension of that back leg.

It can also help you avoid knee pain in that back leg.

If you aren’t conscious you may find that back knee turning out as you rock in toward your back toe. This can overwork the rectus femoris, the quad muscle that not only directly connects to your knee but also your hip, and lead to not only knee but also hip issues.

Being conscious of our feet can help us better recruit the muscles of our lower body. It all starts at that foundation!


Focus on what you feel working not just on making the movement look correct. We need those proper recruitment patterns to drive those movement patterns or we put ourselves at greater risk for overload, compensations and injuries.

Use these 3 cues to help yourself avoid knee aches and pains from lunging and get more out of this amazing lower body move!

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Lunge For Stronger Legs And Glutes – Functional Lunge Variations

Lunge For Stronger Legs And Glutes – Functional Lunge Variations

Squats and Deadlifts are often touted as the head honchos of lower body exercises because they are compound, functional exercises. Heck, the deadlift is even held in high esteem as a back exercise. And while both moves are a great way to strengthen your lower body, you can’t forget about lunges.

Lunges very often take a back seat in our programming. They aren’t the main lift and, often when they are used, they are aren’t used in every direction like they could be.

But the Lunge is an extremely functional exercise that we need to include in our workouts.

Lunges work your entire leg and can target your legs from a variety of angles as you move in different directions. While most Squat and Deadlift variations are sagittal plane movements.

Lunges are also a very “reactive” movement as well. Think about when you move or react to change directions or go after a ball or even chase a child around a playground…You’ll be surprised by how often it is a lunge like movement to react and change directions and chase.

So if you’re moving like that and constantly moving and lunging in every direction, why wouldn’t you want to strengthen those same movements in your workouts? Why would you ONLY focus on sagittal plane lifts like the deadlift and squat?


Start strengthening your legs and glutes with these wonderfully functional Lunge Variations.


Lunge in Every Direction With The Lunge Matrix

Lunge in Every Direction With The Lunge Matrix

Our bodies should be able to move in every direction, yet our workouts rarely, if ever, include movements in every direction.

When we lunge, we tend to lunge forward and backward only. With maybe a side lunge or two thrown in there.

But we should be lunging in every direction so we can MOVE in every direction in daily life without getting injured.

The whole point of working out is to make our bodies more mobile and stronger so we can live pain free.

That is why you need to include the lunge matrix in your workout routine!

The lunge matrix moves your body in every direction. It strengthens your legs and your glutes in every plane since you are lunging in every direction.

It makes you functional strong to prevent injury!