If you don't know your way around a weight room, heading to the gym can be intimidating -- and even dangerous. But paying attention to a few simple rules of proper technique can make you slimmer, stronger and healthier all over.
That's why we asked John Romaniello, trainer, author and founder of Roman Fitness Systems to show us what's what when it comes to strength training.
He'll be helping us tackle some of the most common mistakes we all make while building muscle, plus giving us tips and tricks for better form. This week, we're focusing on squats.
The Faux Pas: "Most of what I see is people doing quarter-reps," says Romaniello, meaning you're likely not squatting as deeply as you can and should be. Part of the problem is starting with your feet too close together, he says, which causes the heels to slightly lift off the ground as you bend.
The Fix: Keep your balance by more solidly grounding your feet in a wider stance, he says. You'll stay steady and strong as you squat deeper, which in turn allows you to lower your body all the way until you could be sitting in an invisible chair.
You may also find your knees "drift inward, compromising stability," says Romaniello. If you find your knees caving in, "position the legs so the knees and toes point slightly outward," he says. "This will engage the glutes and keep the knees from drifting in."
Tell us how it goes in the comments below, and be sure to check back over the following weeks to fix your squats, bicep curls and more.
Check out more in our Fix Your Form series below:
Photos by Damon Dahlen, AOLMissed It? You can still participate in the 30-Day Summer Shape Up: