The 3 bodyweight moves most people get wrong

The Editors
·4-min read
Photo credit: Kelsey Wells
Photo credit: Kelsey Wells

From Cosmopolitan

There are pros and cons to the fact gyms are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. On the up-side it means exercising is far more accessible - now being done in the comfort of your own home or your local park. But on the other hand, with no qualified personal trainers floating around your mat to be able to advise you on your form, it's easy to make mistakes with technique.

Body weight exercises are ideal when you've got a lack of equipment (or space to store it) at home. But some of the key body weight moves - including push-ups, planks, and squats - are also common traps for making mistakes, which is not what you want.

"Correct exercise form is so important," SWEAT Trainer Kelsey Wells tells Cosmopolitan. "Not only does it minimise your risk of injury, it also gives you the best chance to get the most out of your workout and achieve the results you desire."

In order to ensure you maintain the right form, the most fundamental thing Kelsey suggests is to slow down. "Taking your time to properly complete a movement is far better than trying to complete more reps and exposing yourself to a potential injury. Quality over quantity, always," she says.

So in the interests of avoiding these easy pit-falls, Kelsey kindly demonstrates exactly what you should - and shouldn't - be doing. Your very own personal trainer intel awaits...


A key exercise for strengthening the core, the plank is a central part of many home workouts. But common mistakes you can make during this move is sinking down into your shoulders, and allowing your hips to drop too low.

Incorrect plank form

Correct plank form

Kelsey's tips for performing a plank correctly are:

  • Keep shoulders stacked over elbows

  • Maintain tension by engaging your glutes and pulling your elbows towards your feet

  • Maintain neutral spine and neck

Step-by-step instructions for how to do a plank:

  • Step 1
    Start by placing your forearms (wrist to elbow) firmly on the mat, ensuring that your elbows are directly below your shoulders. Extend both legs behind you and elevate your hips off the mat, resting on the balls of your feet.

  • Step 2
    Brace your abdominals and ensure that your spine remains in a neutral position.

  • Step 3
    Hold this position for the specified amount of time, breathing deeply throughout.


If you're wanting to strengthen your arms, look no further than a push-up. Typical issues with push-up form can include allowing your hips to drop either too low or too high (which both indicate your core is not engaged) and having your elbows too wide and high, which can risk shoulder injury.

Incorrect push-up form

Correct push-up form

Kelsey's tips for performing a push-up correctly are:

  • Maintain a straight line from head to toe

  • Keep your elbows below shoulder height

  • Stack your hands in line with your shoulders

  • Brace your core

  • Think of pushing the ground away from you

  • Ensure elbows bend towards your feet (backwards) and not out to the sides

Step-by-step instructions for how to do a push-up:

  • Step 1
    Place both hands on the mat slightly further than shoulder-width apart, feet together on the mat behind you while resting on the balls of your feet. Gently draw your ribs to your hips to engage your core. This is your starting position.

  • Step 2
    Inhale. While maintaining a neutral spine, bend your elbows and lower your torso towards the mat until your arms form two 90-degree angles.

  • Step 3
    Exhale. Push through your chest and extend your elbows to lift your body back into the starting position. Repeat for the specified number of repetitions.


Squats are a move you might think you're well versed in because of how frequently they're included in body weight workouts, but there can easily be errors. The most common, Kelsey says, are your knees caving in, leaning forward, and having a rounded spine.

Incorrect squat form

Correct squat form

Kelsey's tips for performing squats correctly are:

  • Position your feet just wider than hip-width apart

  • Keep your weight through your heels to mid foot

  • Ensure your knees remain in line with your toes

  • Break at your hips and knees

  • Point your knees and toes out lightly

  • Maintain a proud chest

Step-by-step instructions for how to do a squat:

  • Step 1
    Plant both feet on the floor shoulder-width apart. This is your starting position.

  • Step 2
    Inhale. Looking straight ahead, bend at both the hips and knees, ensuring that your knees remain in line with your toes. Continue bending your knees until your upper legs are parallel with the floor. Ensure that your back remains within a 45- to 90- degree angle to your hips.

  • Step 3
    Exhale. Push through your heels and extend your legs to return to the starting position. Repeat for the specified number of repetitions.

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