Right & Wrong: Most Common Bodyweight Exercise Mistakes

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You’d think that really advanced exercises are more dangerous for your muscles & joints… but actually they aren’t. Common bodyweight exercises, the ones you can do quickly and easily for many reps, are usually the ones that end up causing you pain.

Avoid these common bodyweight exercise mistakes to prevent overuse injuries and increase activation of targeted muscles.

Most common bodyweight exercise mistakes:

1. Plank

Plank mistake #1

  • Wrong: Hips too high
  • Right: Keep hips in line with shoulders and heels

Plank mistake #2

  • Wrong: Hips too low
  • Right: Keep hips in line with shoulders and heels

2. Sit-up

Sit-up mistake #1

  • Wrong: Pulling on your neck
  • Right: Keep your neck straight, in line with your upper back

Sit-up mistake #2

  • Wrong: Leading with the chin (poking your chin out)
  • Right: Keep your chin tucked in and your eyes facing straight ahead

Sit-up mistake #3

  • Wrong: Anchoring your feet
  • Right: Keep your feet stable on the floor

3. Bridge

Bridge mistake #1

  • Wrong: Overarching your back
  • Right: Start lifting from your hips and go up until your body forms a straight line

Bridge mistake #2

  • Wrong: Uneven foot pressure
  • Right: Distribute the pressure evenly. Push from your heels, not the edge of your foot or your toes (unless you aim to activate your calf muscles more).

4. Squat

Squat mistake #1

  • Wrong: Knees caving in
  • Right: Keep knees in line with your toes or slightly pushed out

Squat mistake #2

  • Wrong: Bending the knees first
  • Right: Initiate the squat by pushing your hips back

Check out other common Squat mistakes or try these 6 Squat variations.

5. Push-up

Push-up mistake #1

  • Wrong: Elbows flaring
  • Right: Keep your elbows slightly tucked in and your shoulder blades together

Push-up mistake #2

  • Wrong: Sagging midsection
  • Right: Keep hips in line with shoulders

Push-up mistake #3

  • Wrong: Hands in front of shoulders, elbows in “T-shape”
  • Right: Put your hands directly under your shoulders, elbows in “A-shape”

Remember to set up properly for the Push-up; try the 8 best Push-up variations for a bigger chest.

6. Triceps Dip

Dip mistake #1

  • Wrong: Flaring elbows
  • Right: Try to keep elbows in line with your shoulders and your shoulder blades together

Dip mistake #2

  • Wrong: Back collapsing, shoulders going forward
  • Right: Keep your chest “open”: shoulders back and your shoulder blades together

7. Lunge

Lunge mistake #1

  • Wrong: Front knee too far forward
  • Right: Try to keep your front knee over your toes

Lunge mistake #2

  • Wrong: Excessive forward lean in upper body
  • Right: Look straight ahead and try to keep your chest up

Master the basics and you’ll be ready for these 10 Lunge variations!

8. Side Lunge

Side Lunge mistake #1

  • Wrong: Collapsing ankle
  • Right: Keep back foot stable on the floor

Side Lunge mistake #2

  • Wrong: Pointing toes of the bent leg sideways
  • Right: Point the toes of the bent leg forward

Side Lunge mistake #3

  • Wrong: Pushing the knee too far out
  • Right: Keep your bent knee over your toes

9. Donkey Kick

Donkey Kick mistake #1

  • Wrong: Overarching the back
  • Right: Try to keep your lower back in a neutral position

Donkey Kick mistake #2

  • Wrong: Foot turns inward or outward
  • Right: Keep your foot parallel to your lower leg, even if you move your thigh to the side


Be patient. Don’t expect to get it right the first time! Look at yourself in the mirror, take a video, practice, and explore the movement. Don’t get discouraged by all these mistakes. It’s easy to “remember” the right form once you feel how your muscles are more effectively activated.

For a balanced home bodyweight workout program check out the 12-week training plan from the adidas Training appExercise videos demonstrating proper form are included in all workouts.



Hana Medvesek With a background in physical therapy, Hana strongly believes that movement is medicine. She likes to run, lift weights, and try out simple, healthy recipes. View all posts by Hana Medvesek »