Crunches used to be my go-to when I was trying to get a flat stomach. And I have yet to achieve that goal because my version of crunches was just one of the simple workouts (at least they're supposed to be simple) I was doing all wrong.
I was wondering why I looked even more bloated after doing a set of hundreds (HUNDREDS!) of crunches. I can only imagine what other workouts I was doing ineffectively that I thought I was killin', but ultimately only contributed to getting me further from my goal. While people suggest I might be gaining muscle, that's not my story. I decided to look into some of the most common exercises and discovered that unfortunately, crunches are just one of many exercises most of us are getting wrong.
Let's just start with the inevitable one. If you're using your momentum and forcing yourself to do as many crunches as you can in a certain amount of time, there's a chance you're doing them wrong too. Using your momentum causes you to depend on your energy and not your strength, so your abs aren't being impacted the way you hoped, if at all. Slow down, baby girl.
Another common error is the whole yanking your neck thing. I can't help but laugh because I know I do this more often than not. Truth is, the only burn you should feel after doing crunches is in your abs, not your neck or anywhere else.
Other mistakes most people make is relaxing their body all the way when they go down and holding their breath. Instead, you should let your abs do the work during the up-and-down movement and have a healthy and balanced breathing pattern that includes exhaling when you're working your way back up.
Listen, we're all here for a good squat challenge that will whip any booty into shape. And even though they seem like the easiest workouts to date, squats are actually more complicated and call for more motion than most of us think.
For starters, one of the most common mistakes for squats is bending forward. Yes, it's tempting to do this considering our posture, but it's a major no-no. Also, not squatting low enough to really feel that burn is another major faux pas. Be sure to avoid letting your knees go inward.
Still, the main error is not squeezing your butt when you go back up before taking on another squat. If you don't do that, squats are pretty much pointless, and we don't want that.
So remember that infamous planking challenge that was taking over the 99 and 2000s? It wasn't that far back but it was a while ago. While planking has since spiked in popularity thanks to its ability to build arm muscles (we're coming for you Angela Bassett) and double as a great workout for our breasts, there's more to planking than meets the eye.
You're doing this seemingly easy exercise all wrong if you thrust your hips up or dip 'em low, or even try to hold your body completely straight all the way across. Another mistake is placing your weight on your feet when it should really be on your forearms. The trick to know if you're planking successfully is to stand up against a wall with your heels pressing against the baseboard. When your booty, the back of your head, and upper back touch the wall, that's the sweet spot of how a plank should feel.
There are so many different ways to do push-ups, so it's a little more difficult to tell if this is an exercise that's being done incorrectly. Still, there are common movements to steer clear of, no matter what type of push up you're going for during your workout session.
For starters, you should never extend out your elbows too far (too far means they would be perpendicular to your body), stop yourself from going down all the way, bend your back or head so your head touches the ground before anything else, or only move your hips instead of your actual body. Yes, these habits make the exercise feel much better but it kind of defeats the purpose of the workout altogether.
On the flip side, you'll know if you're doing push-ups correctly if your body is straight the entire time, and the balls of your feet and palms of your hand are the only parts touching the floor when you lower your body. When you go down, your elbows should be pointing toward your butt, not outward.
Oh, lunges. Most of us have a love/hate relationship with them. We love the results but hate what it takes to get them. The truth of the matter is, you might have been doing them wrong along too.
I for one, know I do my lunges wrong and I don't care because I absolutely hate them. I'll go from a good dip to a steady and brisk walk and say forget the whole thing. But if you are one of those amazing people that take lunges seriously, you might want to avoid a few things: putting your weight on the ball of your foot that's in front, letting your front knee cave in, and ending your torso forward. These workout habits form easily, so it's understandable that you're doing it without even realizing. But, if you can be intentional about it try to start, because doing them wrong could lead to some pretty painful injuries.
Sidebar: Doing a lunge correctly includes keeping a 90-degree angle between your shin and thighs when you bend low and making sure your back straight at all times.
You can do it girl!
*Feature image by Nomi Ellenson for Cosmopolitan
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Charmaine Patterson is a journalist, lifestyle blogger, and a lover of all things pop culture. While she has much experience in covering top entertainment news stories, she aims to share her everyday life experiences, old and new, with other women who can relate, laugh, and love along with her. Follow Char on Twitter @charjpatterson, Instagram @charpatterson, and keep up with her journey at CharJPatterson.com .
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
There are moments on our health journey when our bodies are bugging us to hit the reset button.
With life, we can start to see slips in our diet, irregular exercising, and inconsistent sleep schedules, and our mental health can suffer because of it. But what many people come to find is that with just a few adjustments — as opposed to restrictions — being made to their food intake, we can see a focus more on eating “the right” calories and less on being on a restrictive diet.
"Raw Till 4" is a dietary concept and lifestyle associated with the raw vegan and high-carb, low-fat vegan (HCLF) movements. Created by Australian blogger and YouTube star known as 'Freelee the Banana Girl', the method suggests eating raw, uncooked plant-based foods until 4 p.m. each day and then having a cooked, vegan meal in the evening.
The Raw Till 4 lifestyle follows the guidelines of vegan and rawist eating and involves consuming fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sprouted grains in an uncooked, natural state until the designated time of 4 p.m. or around one’s typical dinner time. After 4 p.m., a cooked vegan meal is consumed, which may include foods like steamed vegetables, grains, legumes, and plant-based sources of protein like tofu or tempeh.
On TikTok, creator Adina Yaffa is repopularizing the trend, sharing how it’s helped to improve digestion, boost energy levels, and support weight loss.
Replying to @🌜kat🌛 here is what I eat in a day on a raw till 4 lifestyle. I eat with the sun and according to the circadian rhythm that out bodies follow on a typical day. Where i drink liquids during the first 8 hours, then juicy fruits, then smoothies, more dense building fats, proteins and veggies! #snatchedwaist #bellyfat #bellybloat #smallwaist #hourglass #rawtill4
“During the hours of 4 a.m. and 8 a.m., your body is in an elimination phase and needs all the help it can get,” Yaffa says in the clip. “So what you’re going to do is drink coconut water, citrus juices, and green juices during this time, and around 8 a.m., you can break your fast with some fruit. I suggest juicing fruits, and then after that, I suggest having a smoothie or a bowl with berries and granola so you can get your fats and healthy proteins in.”
Raw till 4 has so many benefits including better digestion, nutrients, belly fat and bloat elimination, snatched waist, more energy and so much more! #snatchedwaist #bellyfat #bellybloat #smallwaist #hourglass
On the official Raw Till 4 website, Freelee the Banana Girl shares tips on how to get the best outcomes of this lifestyle change, which include:
- “Stay hydrated! You should pee about 8-12 times per day, and your urine should be clear. Drink 1 liter of water when you wake up in the morning, and 1 liter of water about 30 minutes before each meal for optimal results.”
- “Fragmented sodium (salt) should be kept to a minimum. Use herbs, lemon juice, etc. wherever possible in place of salt.”
- “Eat unlimited calories at every meal, no restriction. The majority of your calories each day should come from fruit. Don’t under-eat on fruit during the day or 'save up' your calories for dinner time. RT4 is about abundance at every meal.”
- “Move your body daily. Find an activity you love and make it your playful exercise.”
- “Make sure to get lots of rest, relaxation, and good sleep. Learning to incorporate good rest, early nights, and regular sleeping patterns into your life will greatly improve your overall health.”
- “Practice gratitude and peaceful emotions at mealtime, and get a vision book started! Be sure to enjoy this journey. Focus on long-term health instead of short-term results.”
Critics argue that it can be challenging to get all the necessary nutrients from a raw vegan diet and that it may not be suitable for everyone, especially over the long term.
As with any diet, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian before making significant dietary changes to ensure that it meets your individual nutritional needs and health goals.
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