Fitness mistakes: How to correct your squatting, lunging and planking technique

Simple exercises done wrong can cause a great deal of damage, so here is Dr Steve Milanese's top tips to make sure you correct your technique and avoid injury.

Dr Milanese, senior lecturer of physiotherapy at the University of South Australia, told 891 ABC Adelaide's Afternoons program that simple body weight exercises like squats, lunges and planking should form the foundation of any new fitness routine.

However you must ensure your core and lower limbs are stabilised to reap the benefits.


Dr Milanese said squats were often done very poorly, so it was important to perfect your technique.

"Think of your belly button and tighten your tummy muscles so you bring it back towards your spine and up," he said.

"What you should feel is, just in front of the hip bone, the muscles tighten."

He advised placing your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly turned out.

Keep your heels on the ground, gently bend your knees and lower your body.

When lowering and rising, keep your spine straight, head up and push your bottom out, he said.

"Don't go too far — particularly if you have knee problems.

"If you squat too far down you put too much pressure through the front of your knee cap."

Aim to do sets of 10 squats and adjust how many sets you do by how much walking you have done throughout the day or how your body reacts.

"Build up slowly, particularly if you have a history of knee problems," he said.


To lunge correctly, Dr Milanese advised tightening the core with the same principle explained above.

Step forward with one leg and gently lower your weight down.

Your aim, he said, should be to bend the leading knee in a 90-degree angle.

"The key is to maintain your core stability."

He said lunges were very important for people who regularly spent time sitting, as it helped to stretch the hip muscles.

Dr Milanese added it was important not to step too wide.

'The dreaded plank'

The plank is a great way to build trunk muscles, Dr Milanese said.

"You need to be careful if you have shoulder problems, because you are going to be taking weight on them."

Tighten your core, dig your feet into the floor, then lift your bottom up.

"As soon as you start shaking — rest," he said.

Dr Milanese said you should aim for about 30 seconds, but with all exercise it was more important to get quality over quantity.

"The biggest mistake people do is stick their bum all the way up or arch," he said.

"Just those three exercises should help prevent [injuries when returning to activity]."

Dr Milanese said to remember:

  • Don't over do it — build up gradually
  • Make sure you are in control of the movements
  • If you feel strain, back off from the stretch
  • If you have pre-existing injuries, consult your doctor before beginning any form of exercise