So you just smashed that four-minute plank hold with variations in between, but you barely worked up a sweat and hate to admit that you didn’t feel that deep burn in your abs. Either you’re the next Thor, or you were doing it all wrong.

When performing movements that require activation of smaller or deeper muscles, it’s all too easy for our stronger, more dominant muscles to take over. Unfortunately, this leads to our stronger, tighter muscles becoming stronger and tighter still, and our weaker and less active muscles again missing out. So basically, it’s essential to nail your technique to make the most out of your workout and most importantly to avoid injury.

The good news is, correcting your form is totally easy and making the smallest adjustments will make massive differences to help you instantly get that sweat on.

Take a look at the three fundamental moves that most people get wrong and my simple fixes to help you get that good burn going. When in doubt, jump in front of a side mirror to keep an eye on your form or have a friend video you while you go.


Where you’re going wrong

The plank: done everywhere, but rarely done right. You’re letting your bum lift into the air (which is making it pretty damn easy) or collapsing into your lower back.

How to fix it

Perfect the plank by placing your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart and keep your bum flat, squeezed and in line with your body. Try to focus on these four things: tense your glutes continually, make sure your belly button is drawn into your spine, maintain normal breathing and keep your back flat and in a neutral position without letting it arch.


Where you’re going wrong

Ahhh deadlifts, the one exercise I see in gyms all over the world that always make me cringe. Unfortunately, too many gym instructors throw their clients under the bus by getting them to do them before they’re ready. The deadlift is all about glute activation and teaching the muscles to contract in the right order. When all the load is placed in your back you’re an accident waiting to happen.

How to fix it

A perfect deadlift starts in your feet. I always tell my clients to firstly think about pushing the ground away from you. Secondly, before the bar even lifts off the ground, activate your lats so you have a tight lat squeeze and grip on the bar. Thirdly, lift the bar and keep a nice straight back with no arch. You should feel a contraction in this order: hamstrings, glutes, and then lower back – and make sure you thrust the hips and squeeze the glutes hard. My final point is to reset after every rep and don’t get sloppy by rushing!


Where you’re going wrong

There are three big mistakes people make when squatting; they let their heels lift off the ground, their knees travel too far forward and a pet peeve of mine, they add weight before they are ready. Remember, if you cannot do a perfect body weight squat you should not be doing weighted squats.

How to fix it

Focus on these three things when you’re nailing the squat: make sure your hips are back, heels stay flat and gently push knees out on the down phase. If you are thinking of amping it up and adding weights to your squat, something I always recommend is to add resistance with a light dumbbell at the front of the body. Try this well before you attempt to put barbells across your back as it’s much easier to control this movement.

So there you have it, my tips to fix those moves you’ve been getting all wrong. Keep in mind, it’s way more beneficial to feel the burn in the correct form with a few consistent, solid reps than repeating the same incorrect moves over and over. Never underestimate the importance of stretching before and after your workout, and most importantly, don’t forget to breathe!





Sam Wood

Sam Wood is Australia’s favourite personal trainer. Gym owner, founder of Gecko Sports, creator of 28 by Sam Wood and proud family man. Beyond his business success, Sam is also a regular media contributor with frequent online, radio and television appearances. Sam combines 17 years industry experience, an unwavering passion to make a difference and his charismatic personality to deliver refreshingly honest and relatable messages to tens of thousands of people every day. As the pioneer of children’s fitness, owner of Australia’s biggest personal training gym and creator of 28 by Sam Wood there is no question that Sam is one of Australia’s leading fitness experts.