Elite Exercise Execution (Part 1)

January 7, 2010 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

Tricep Cable Pull downs

This is one of my favorite exercises for building up my triceps, as it seems to give me the best results every time. However, to get the best results for your efforts, you will need to perform the exercise the correct way. Which is something you might not currently be doing.

Common mistakes

1) Using your whole body to push the weight back down at the top of the motion.
2) Elbows raise up to high.

This is a double negative because you are putting extra strain on your body (which can sometimes lead to injury) and performing the exercise incorrectly. Which in turn means you are getting the least results for your efforts.

The correction

1) Instead of using your whole body, just use your arms. That is where you want to build muscle, so that is the only part of your body that needs to move with this exercise.

2) This could be happening for one of 2 reasons

  • Using your whole body to control the motion of the exercise, which results in an uncoordinated body movement. Hence why your arms are all over the place.
  • The weight you’re currently using is too heavy. I’ve previously mentioned the disadvantages of using a weight that’s too heavy for your current self and if that is the case, make sure you lower the weight and increase it over time, as you grow stronger.

Raising your elbows too high will kill the concentration of the movement to your tricep muscles. However, you can allow them to travel a few inches upward as you reach the top level of the movement. Just make sure that you stay close to the cable at this point, as doing so will provide more resistance.

Dumbbell Lateral Raises

This again is another favourite exercise and is the reason why most people can tell I workout, just by looking at my shoulders… when fully dressed. However, this is another exercise that I see being performed incorrectly far to often.

Common mistakes

  • ‘Good’ Posture (Yes, it’s actually bad)
  • Arms not bent enough
  • Shoulders raised to high

I see many variations of the wrong. But here is a single variation to get it right.

The first thing you will want to do is stretch before the exercise and then relax your muscles a little when you begin the stance. Then,

  • Hold both dumbbells together vertically in front of your thighs
  • Bend over slightly with your knees and hips bent too

Raising your arms

This is all about correct technique. What you will need to do is raise your arms with a bend in your elbows (10-30 degree angle) and keep them that way throughout the whole movement.

Raise your arms until your elbows are shoulder height and keep them above your wrists.  At this point your elbows should be directly lateral to your shoulders, as your elbows will be slightly bent forward.

Improve your grip strength

If there were one thing that I wish I had done back when I first performed this exercise, it would be to focus on my grip strength. Not doing so meant that I couldn’t perform the exercise to it’s full potential.


If you have weak grip strength, then you may notice your hands slipping from the dumbbells during the later sets or later reps of early sets. This will happen for sure as you increase the weight too.

Tip: Don’t increase the weight too much with this exercise, that won’t be needed. This exercise is all about execution and focusing on that is what will get you those killer shoulders.

There are many exercises that I have performed and watched others perform ‘incorrectly’ which deserve to make their way to Elite Exercise Execution. I will cover more of these and feel free to let me know which exercises you have struggled with or watched others struggle with, which you think would be worthy to be mention in Elite Exercise Execution.

See you in the comments.

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