As warm weather nears, timely reminders on good exercise form

Summer's approaching, so people who haven't been to the gym in a while will be heading there to get ready for swimsuit season. The American Council on Exercise has issued a warning about the three most common mistakes people make when beginning or ramping up an exercise program, and how to avoid them.

Plyometrics -- quick, powerful movements to increase muscle strength and explosiveness -- are an important part of a workout program, ACE says, but if you land incorrectly, you can hurt yourself. So focus on landing softly on the mid-foot and then roll forward to push off the ball of the foot, and do a dynamic warm-up before doing plyometric exercises.

Lots of people have begun working out with kettlebells, because they have been shown to build strength and endurance faster than more conventional resistance exercises. But many newcomers don't understand the proper mechanics for doing the exercises. This mistake most often is made, ACE says, when performing the single-arm swing.

Remember that kettlebell exercises are designed to work the core. To perform the single-arm swing correctly, contract the abdominal muscles and hinge at the hips. While exhaling, initiate an explosive upward movement to swing the kettlebell upward, coming to a standing position.

High-intensity interval training increases the intensity of a workout by alternating between brief speed and recovery intervals to maximize training sessions in a short amount of time. But if you cut the recovery interval short, you can hurt yourself, ACE warns.

To protect against injury, ACE says, you should do a five-minute warm-up before beginning high-intensity interval training. Begin with one minute of speed work to every two or three minutes of active recovery. As you improve, the recovery intervals can be shortened, but they should always be at least as long as the high-intensity intervals.

For more fitness technique tips, visit www.acefitness.org.

Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.

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