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Always perform exercises with perfect form. You've probably had this phrase beaten into your head from every trainer and strength coach you've ever worked with. We certainly say it over and over again on And with good reason: Using poor form—or "cheating"—to bang out a few extra reps with a higher weight, will give you sub-optimal results from your efforts while also putting you at a greater risk of injury. You get less from doing more, and you're more likely to get hurt.

To help you get the most out of your workouts and stay healthy, we polled 10 elite strength coaches to discover the most common exercise form fails they see athletes make. Here's what they said:

Mistake: You're not using your back

"One I see a lot as a coach is athletes failing to engage their lats during exercises like Deadlifts and Squats," says Tony Gentilcore, co-founder of Cressey Performance (Hudson, Mass.). "The lats are a big muscle, with insertion points in the upper back all the way down to the lower back. It's a huge muscle for providing stability to the spine."

Read more: 9 Ways Athletes Screw Up Common Exercises

These days, it seems that everyone is stressed. We all have too much to do and too little time to do it. Times are tough, money is tight, and deadlines are imminent.

What happens when you're stressed? You tend to eat more, sleep less, skip the gym and feel rundown. Additionally, stress is linked to a number of illnesses, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and an increased risk for cancer.

Read more: Beat Stress and Weigh Less

Exercising for Chronic Health Issues

For many people these days, exercise is first and foremost a preventative habit: we don't want to develop heart disease or diabetes, we want to maintain mobility and joint health, so we dedicate ourselves to a fitness regimen and healthy diet.

Those people who are exercising in an effort to restore health, rather than maintain it, have often been diagnosed with one of the 'unholy trinity' of lifestyle diseases – that is, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure. However, there is a huge variety of chronic health conditions that can be alleviated or cured by regular physical activity, and some of them can be quite counter-intuitive.

Read more: Exercising for Chronic Health Issues

Experts caution that controversial findings aren't a license to ramp up your consumption of saturated fat.

Somewhere, Julia Child is smiling. A new review published in Annals of Internal Medicine has given ammunition to those, like the famous French chef, fond of cooking with butter and other sources of saturated fat. The meta-analysis looked at 27 prior clinical trials and 49 observational studies, totaling more than 600,000 participants. It concluded that "current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats."

The report led even Mark Bittman, the ordinarily health-conscious food writer for the New York Times, to comment, "Butter is back, and when you're looking for a few chunks of pork for a stew, you can resume searching for the best pieces—the ones with the most fat."


Apparently people like Erin Simmons, who hate CrossFit didn't read my article on how CrossFit saved my health, nor have they considered the broader implications of how this fitness program may be helping tens of thousands (and maybe more) of people get healthy and happy.

Erin is just one among many who have made headway bashing CrossFit as being a sport that causes too many injuries, is overwhelmed by poor coaching or thoughtless programming, and, oh yes, for being a cult. And though there is some validity to some of what I have read, and I am happy to stand corrected on any point, it seems to me that these opinions are personal, ego-based vendettas written by people who feel the need to shout out warnings on subjects that are not completely substantiated by research or fact.

Read more: CrossFit Bashers, Can You Be More Constructive?

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