I Worked Out with a Personal Trainer, and Here’s What I’ve Been Doing Wrong

Two weight-lifting moves I’ve been doing incorrectly.

I consider myself pretty well-versed in the world of fitness. I work out multiple times per week, played sports in high school and I’m a fitness and health editor.

But it wasn’t until I started taking personal training sessions that I realized just how much I still have to learn. Of course, I don’t pretend to know everything about fitness—but I did learn during a few of my sessions that I’ve been doing some of the most popular workout moves incorrectly! And despite the number of times I’ve done these moves in exercise classes, no one has ever corrected my form.

The benefit of working out with a trainer is that he/she can give you the one-on-one attention necessary for spotting incorrect form, and correct it before it’s too late and you injure yourself.

Here were two moves I found out I’ve been doing wrong for most of my fitness career.

Kettlebell swings

What seems like the simplest exercise is actually one of the most incorrectly performed movements out there.

How I’ve been doing it: With knees bent in a squat, I used the momentum of propelling myself up out of the squat and pulling my arms up to swing the kettlebell from just above the ground to shoulder height.

How it should be done: Knees softly bent (not squatting), lean forward with the kettlebell in your hands just below and under your bottom. Swing the kettlebell up by hinging your hips forward, without pulling your arms upward. Return kettlebell to start by hinging forward from the hips, keeping the minor bend in the knee.


As my trainer was showing me how to properly execute a conventional deadlift, I watched others in the gym around me performing the same movement incorrectly.

How I’ve been doing it: With knees slightly bent, bar a few inches off the ground, I would hinge up from the waist to draw the bar up my thighs, then hinge back to hover above the ground. This isn’t the correct way to do a conventional deadlift or its cousin, the Romanian deadlift.

How it should be done: The bar should sit on the ground, with the weights propping it a few inches off the ground. Let the bar touch your shins, and place your hands on the bar outside your shins. Bend your knees to reach the bar and keep your back straight. Holding the bar, stand straight up with weight in your heels. Return the bar to the ground by keeping your back straight and slightly bending your knees.

While many of us have been lifting weights and working out for as long as we were old enough to have a gym membership, there is always something to learn or do better when it comes to fitness. Having someone who is trained and certified to observe basic movements can make all the difference in a healthy body or an injured one. It’s OK to check your pride and ask for help—in fact, it may just make your workout more effective.

Five popular moves you might be doing incorrectly, and how to fix that to get the most out of your workout.

Photo credit: Ani Dimi/Stocksy