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Keeping It Simple

Today’s social media blitz shows top athletes performing extraordinary exercises and drills that almost look impossible. Sure, they look cool, but are they really beneficial? Are they for everyone? I recently spoke at a seminar and the common notion was “master the simple stuff.” This is true not only for the amateur athletes but professional athletes as well. Simple exercises such as the squat, lunge and push up are not always as simple as they may seem. Minor defects in mechanics can lead to asymmetries in strength, stability and flexibility. These defects can lead to decreased performance and injuries.

As an athlete, it is important to work with someone experienced who not only knows proper mechanics, but can identify flaws and fix them. A quality professional will also know how to progress an athlete from simple to more complex exercises and drills that will benefit the development of the athlete. Below are a few simple exercises with common errors and simple fixes.


Common error: Sitting back on heels too much to not allow the knees to go over the toes. The knees actually do go slightly over the toes in a proper squat. Attempting to keep the knees from going over the toes can cause either too much trunk flexion or leaning back too much causing a feeling of falling backwards. In an ideal squat, the trunk and shin angles should be parallel.


Common error: When lunging forward, the foot steps more towards the midline (beneath the belly button) instead of under the hip. By stepping more laterally, beneath the hip, there will be more activation and strengthening of the hip muscles.

Box Jump:

Common error: Using a box that is too high. The goal of a box jump is to create power with the legs and jump up and land on a box. When the box is too high, an athlete will attempt to just try and get their feet on to the box instead of getting extension at the ankle, knee and hip which is what creates power more efficiently. If the athlete is not getting the triple extension or struggling to get to the box, lower the height. The last thing an athlete wants to do is miss the box and tear up their knee or shin.

Chris Phillips is an Athletic Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Specialist with over 20 years experience in professional hockey, football and soccer and owner of Compete Sports Performance and Rehab.