Trainer-approved tips to take your workout to the next level

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Photo: Jonathan Lantz
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The first step: making it from your office to the gym without backing out and falling into a Netflix hole. (Congrats!) The second? Ensuring that your form is correct, so you reap the maximum benefit out of your workout—something that’s all too easy to forget when you’re focused on getting your heart rate up (and not singing Beyoncé too loudly).

Whether you opt for weightlifting, squats, or a high-intensity spin session, proper alignment is key. And no one knows this better than the trainers themselves. So, we teamed up with Degree Deodorant to find four industry experts who could explain exactly how one small change can equal major results.

Check out the inside intel on how the pros take things up a few notches.

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Photo: Peter Thompson
Photo: Peter Thompson

If you’re into total-body conditioning…

In plank position, many people focus on using their shoulders to hold their weight, and have a tendency to let their hips drop and back arch. By pulling the belly button (or lower abdominal) up towards the ceiling, you actually lift body weight off your joints, simultaneously working your legs, arms, back, and, of course, abs. AKA, a full-body workout! —Ashley Wilking, private trainer and creator of ASH FIT

Photo: SoulCycle
Photo: SoulCycle

If you’re a spinning fanatic…

Most people try and keep their body weight on their handlebars and grip the handlebars really tightly. At SoulCycle, we want you to ride with your hips over the front of the saddle, with your body weight being in your hips and core area and a nice relaxed grip on the handlebars. Remember, the handlebars are there for balance, and your focus should be in keeping the hips, back, and, core tight. When your body position is lined up properly, then you can maximize your time in that room. —Conor Kelly, SoulCycle instructor

Photo: AKT
Photo: AKT

If you want to tighten your glutes…

One of my favorite exercises to do with my clients are squats. Not only do they help to make your legs and booty look great, but they assist in strengthening your quads and the muscles around your knees, which can help prevent knee problems in the future. This all, of course, depends on correct form.

In a squat you want to hinge at the hips, shooting your booty back while driving your heels into the floor [and] keeping your spine in neutral. A great way for people to learn correct form while squatting is to hold onto a ballet bar. This way, you can truly hinge at the hips while keeping weight in the heels and maintain a neutral spine. Think of it as a hip hinge, not a knee bend. —Emily Mara, master trainer and director of the Hamptons at AKT

Photo: Blaire Massaroni
Photo: Blaire Massaroni

If kettlebells, deadlifts, and seated bicep curls are your thing…

The first tweak I always have my clients learn how to make is proper pelvic positioning. Make sure your pelvis is neutral and the back is not arched. Hips should be firmly tucked under—and, here’s the kicker—your glutes should be clenched towards your belly button as tightly as you can. It seems silly, but this move alone will help tighten up your form and stimulate recruitment from surrounding muscles, making you stronger, as well as help to correct postural imbalances outside of the gym. Basically, when in doubt, squeeze your butt.” –Blaire Massaroni, elite trainer at Crunch Union Square in New York City

For more information on keeping your cool even in the toughest workout, go to

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