This week, Jess Demicoli – a trainer at Icon Health Club, Camden Street – on common mistakes made in the gym even by the most regular of gym members.

Being a member of a gym and most importantly attending it regularly is the most important thing and those of you who are doing just so should be proud of yourselves. But as trainers we want to make sure that you’re not cheating yourself out of results or opening yourself up to injury.

Every day we see very basic mistakes by even the most experienced gym users. So, here’s our top tips for making sure you get the most from every workout in the gym.

Squats

Squats are probably one of the best exercises that you can do in the gym however despite its popularity, as adults our ability to squat naturally decreases as we grow older. Often people bend their knees out to the side (like in ballet) and demi-plie rather than sitting into a squat to get the full effect.

To do a squat effectively, before you bend your knees, make sure that these four points are in alignment: your heels, knees, hips, and shoulders. Point your toes slightly out and now as you bend your knees imagine you are about to sit down on a chair allowing your glutes to go back towards the wall behind you.

At the same time do not allow the back to round, instead keep you back straight and your core tight. We naturally lean a bit forward as we drop down into the squat, so allow your knees to track over your feet as you bend. The deeper you can squat the more muscle you will engage. To begin aim to squat to knee level. As you come back up ensure you stand tall and keep everything in alignment before repeating the movement.

Slow down your reps

Many people try to do reps as fast as they can but going slower will actually help you build more strength. This is known as time under tension.

So don’t rush those reps to get through your programme as quickly as possible, instead slow it down to get results.

Control your transitions

Don’t collapse into exercises such as a push-up or a sit-up, instead try to keep your movement as controlled and slow as possible engaging the muscles you want to activate before beginning the exercise.

Avoid hunching

Hunching is something we do on the couch, in work or even in the car and can be the main cause of muscle aches and tension.

When you’re on a cardio machine, especially the stepper, roll your shoulders back and stand tall. If you lean forward and transfer some of your weight to the machine, you get less of a workout and you are weakening your muscles instead of strengthening them.

Deadlift

When you’re doing a deadlift, keep your spine straight.

Often we see people curve their spines as they lean forward which can be very detrimental to the spine.

Keep the bar close to your thighs as you hinge forward and down from the waist.