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Exercises That Make You Stronger and Exercises That Cause Injury (PART 1)

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

Why even those who’ve been doing fitness for years need to take a step back and evaluate themselves

By Cheryl Coppa

The whole point of doing this fitness thing is because we want to get stronger, right? We want to be our best and we want to avoid injury.

Poor Form and Bad Execution Can Lead to Injury

It’s not really that there are bad exercises, just poor execution or bad form. When we are exercising we are creating pressure, putting pressure on our body, so it can get stronger. If we are not managing pressure correctly and not in proper form, that exercise can and will eventually lead to injury. Injury puts you out of the game and it's always avoidable!
With proper form and proper pressure management, you are safe and you get stronger. It’s never about how heavy the weights you are picking up. Because, if you are picking up heavy weights with incorrect form, you are not even getting the result you are working for but rather putting yourself at risk for injury.
Pressure can be good, or pressure can be bad.

For example, if you are squatting with “heavy” weights, but your knees are caving in and your hips are not down and back, your legs will not get stronger even though your weights are heavy, but rather your knees will hurt and so will your low back!

There are many exercises we can add to this list, and I am going to start with which ones I think are most important to get right. Because really if you can get these two right, you are in great shape and all the other exercises should fall right in line.

Even if you have been doing fitness for years, it's always a good idea to take a step back and evaluate yourself. It is possible you never learned the correct form in the first place, it’s possible you slipped into poor holding patterns along the way. Muscle memory is a real thing, and if you didn’t learn correctly when you started, it’s even more important to make the adjustment now and re-learn and correct that muscle memory.

“Engage Your Core” - What Does It Even Mean

Let’s start with hands down the most important one, and one that has probably been skipped over. Proper core training and what it means to “engage your core”. That's a common term you hear, right? So what does that even mean? It doesn’t mean pulling in your belly button, which is another common cue you might come across. Once you master how to engage your core, you use this not only in your core training but in ALL exercises! This will always protect your spine, and your pelvic floor, prevent disc issues, prevent hernias, shape your midsection, and keep you strong and functional long-term!

“Engage your core” doesn’t mean pulling in your belly button. Once you master how to engage your core, it will always protect your spine, and your pelvic floor, prevent disc issues, prevent hernias, shape your midsection, and keep you strong and functional long-term.”, Trainer Cheryl Coppa

I’m going to give you some demonstrations and pictures to help you understand. Just know once you start to practice, it does take practice because you are having to re-learn and correct muscle memory. This is why we have an entire program built around learning this technique. If you want ALL in, you can find the complete program and additional information in our Core & Pelvic Floor Restore program available only at Olakaola.

How to engage your core: I call it “ The Core Breath” or “360 breathing” This is how it works:

Click the video to learn The Core Breath technique

Get These Two Exercises Right and All The Other Exercises Will Fall Right In Line

Add this breathing to any core exercise you do, and you have a true Core Exercise. Let’s think about it for a second - How many times have you trained your core and you feel it in your neck? Or do you feel it in your lower back? Or do you feel it in your obliques (your sides), or just the top part of your abs?

We want to work the core in its entirety, which is the Diaphragm to the Pelvic Floor! So this would be your top abs, your lower abs, your six-pack region, your obliques (your sides), and your pelvic floor. We achieve this by mastering this breathing, and using it in ALL your core exercises!

1. The Dead Bug Exercise

The ‘Dead Bug’ core exercise is the best exercise to practice pairing this breathing because you have the ground to help you notice if you are in the correct form, and once you do get it right, you can really really feel your core working here.

Click the video and learn How To Master Your Dead Bug

2. The Deadlift Exercise - Will Keep Your Body Long and Strong

Second exercise that can make or break you, to put it quite bluntly, Deadlifts.
What a powerful exercise this is, very important to get this one right. This exercise works the entire back side of your body. Working the posterior chain (the back side of your body) is especially important in modern-day living because of all the sitting and hunching over we do. This exercise is going to keep your body long and strong!
This is a very technical exercise, so let’s practice the technique, and do it without weights until you know for certain you got it right. Remember, you have to create and build that muscle memory, you don’t ever want to rush in.

When you are training for longevity and training for life, you set the ego aside. Power and control are in your form. If you are doing deadlifts and you feel it in your lower back, you know for sure you need to re-evaluate. You should always feel deadlifts in your hamstrings, it should almost feel like a stretch. Pair this exercise with the new breathing technique (Core Breath) to ensure complete safety and strength. You would inhale as you go down, and exhale, lift and contract on the way up.

Below you can find some visuals of common mistakes and a video guide on how to practice. If you still feel you can’t get it, the issue could be where you are carrying your pelvis and you need to learn “proper alignment“. This is something you can find in our Core & Pelvic Floor program in PHASE 1 the very first video.
If you need further assistance you can reach out and schedule a one-on-one consultation with me.

Click the video and learn How To Master Your Deadlift

Your movements are your power, learn them and experience your strongest self! In our classes at Ola Ka Ola, we are always reminding you, giving you form cues, and giving corrections or even alternatives if we see you in an unsafe position.
Because you are in this for strength and long-term success. We got your back!
I’ll see you in class.


About Cheryl Coppa

✔️ A certified Core Confidence Specialist (Core and Pelvic Floor retraining)
✔️ A certified Personal Trainer specializing in women's fitness over 40
✔️ Low-Pressure Fitness / Hypopressive certified by creator Dr. Tamara Rial
✔️ Pre/postnatal corrective exercise specialist
✔️Instructor of the Pelvic Floor Health program, Ola Ka Ola
✔️ 40 years young, wife & mother of 3


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