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Mastering Exercise Form: The Best Cueing Techniques for Various Exercises

Effective cueing is essential for mastering proper exercise form, which not only enhances performance but also minimizes the risk of injury. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned gym-goer, the right cues can make a significant difference in your workout routine. Let's explore some of the best cues for a variety of exercises to help you optimize your training and maximize results.

Personal Trainers Luke Kelly & Shaun Bristol.
Personal Trainers Luke Kelly & Shaun Bristol.
  1. Squats: Squats are a fundamental compound exercise targeting multiple muscle groups, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. Proper form is crucial to avoid strain and injury.


  • "Keep your chest up": Encourages proper spinal alignment and prevents rounding of the back.

  • "Push through your heels": Shifts the focus to the glutes and hamstrings, promoting balanced muscle engagement.

  • "Sit back like you're sitting in a chair": Emphasizes hip hinge movement and helps prevent excessive forward knee travel.

  1. Deadlifts: Deadlifts are a powerful exercise for building strength in the posterior chain, including the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. Maintaining a neutral spine is key to safe and effective deadlifting.


  • "Brace your core": Engages the abdominal muscles to stabilize the spine and protect the lower back.

  • "Hinge at the hips": Initiates movement from the hips, ensuring proper hip hinge mechanics and reducing stress on the lower back.

  • "Squeeze your shoulder blades": Promotes a strong upper back position, enhancing stability and reducing the risk of rounding the back.

  1. Push-ups: Push-ups are a versatile bodyweight exercise that targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Proper alignment and control are essential for maximizing muscle engagement and minimizing strain on the joints.


  • "Maintain a straight line from head to heels": Encourages a neutral spine and prevents sagging or piking of the hips.

  • "Lower your body until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle": Provides a specific point of reference for depth, ensuring a full range of motion.

  • "Keep your elbows close to your body": Helps to engage the triceps and protect the shoulders by preventing excessive flaring of the elbows.

  1. Pull-ups: Pull-ups are a challenging bodyweight exercise that primarily targets the muscles of the back and arms. Proper technique is crucial for maximizing muscle activation and preventing injury.


  • "Engage your lats": Focuses on initiating the movement from the back muscles, rather than relying solely on arm strength.

  • "Depress your shoulder blades": Stabilizes the shoulders and promotes proper scapular movement throughout the exercise.

  • "Drive your elbows down": Encourages a more efficient pulling motion and engages the muscles of the upper back.

  1. Lunges: Lunges are an effective lower body exercise that targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes while also improving balance and coordination.


  • "Step forward with a long stride": Ensures proper distance between the feet to facilitate a deeper lunge and better stability.

  • "Keep your torso upright": Promotes proper alignment and prevents leaning forward, which can strain the lower back.

  • "Drive through your front heel": Emphasizes the engagement of the glutes and quadriceps while promoting balance and control.

PT Alex of West London Personal Training coaching his client on the Concept 2 Rower.
PT Alex of West London Personal Training coaching his client on the Concept 2 Rower.

Mastering exercise form is essential for achieving optimal results and preventing injury during workouts. Incorporating effective cues can help individuals of all fitness levels improve their technique and get the most out of their exercises. By focusing on proper alignment, muscle engagement, and movement mechanics, you can enhance your performance, reduce the risk of injury, and reach your fitness goals more efficiently.

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