We’ve compiled four popular exercises and dive into where you should be feeling it with each one and how to do them correctly. 

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Where should I be feeling it?

Where should I be feeling it?
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Have you ever been mid-workout and wondered if where you feel that sweet burn is where you should be feeling it? Yeah, us too.

The truth is, if your form is incorrect, you could be working muscles that aren’t the target of that exercise. Even so, this can lead to injury and put stress on your joints and tendons - we don’t want that!

Sure, it can be tricky to know which muscles should be working and which ones should be assisting. So, allow us to help you out.

We’ve compiled four popular exercises and dive into where you should be feeling it with each one and how to do them correctly. 

Hip Lift (Glute Bridge)

This popular exercise is a simple movement that primarily works the glutes, specifically your largest glute muscle: the gluteus maximus. Additionally, it’s fantastic for strengthening and activating the hips.

While there are many variations of a hip lift, starting with a bilateral glute bridge off the floor using your bodyweight is the perfect place to start.

How to Do It

Lie faceup with your knees bent, feet flat, and heels a few inches from your butt. Once you're in position, squeeze your glutes and abs and push through your heels to lift your hips off the floor. 

You’ll want your body to form a solid line from your shoulders to the knees. 

At this point, pause and squeeze those glutes, then lower your hips to the starting position and repeat for however many reps you want. Easy right?

Where Should I Be Feeling It?

During this booty-building exercise, you should feel your butt muscles get very tight at the top end of the movement. You may also feel a stretching sensation from the hip flexors as you extend the hip.

What you don’t want is to feel tension in your hamstrings or lower back as you push your hips to the ceiling. If this happens, it’s typically due to lack of glute strength, over-arching your back, or poor foot placement. 

The farther your feet are from your butt, the more you’ll feel it in your hamstrings. So, play around with the placement to ensure you feel the burn in your butt and notice that tightness at the top end of the movement.

Strict Overhead Press

An exercise that’s epic for building your shoulders, triceps, and chest muscles is the strict overhead press. While you can do this either sitting or standing, we're focusing on the latter.

How to Do It

To do this movement correctly, stand with your feet no less than hip-width apart. Make sure your feet are grounded, quads tight, and butt clenched for a solid foundation.

With a barbell resting at your shoulders, have your elbows pointed forward and keep them locked so they don’t flare during the movement. Align your triceps with your wrists and lift straight up, ending with the bar overhead.

Be mindful not to lift too far in front or behind yourself. Instead, lift the bar so your body creates a straight line.

Where Should I Be Feeling It?

When executed correctly, you should feel it primarily in your shoulders (deltoids). Since this move works multiple muscle groups, your triceps and chest will also feel a bit of that burn too. It’s a win-win-win!

Where you don’t want to feel it is in the lower back. If you lack overhead shoulder mobility, your body compensates by excessively extending the spine to give the illusion of a vertical press.

To solve this issue, incorporate shoulder mobility movements into your warm-up for an optimal shoulder press. Your lower back will thank you.

Romanian Deadlift

A Romanian deadlift (RDL) is a strength exercise similar to a plain ol’ deadlift but instead puts more emphasis on the glutes and hamstrings. 

This full-body exercise is incredibly beneficial and helps tone and define many muscles. If you’re looking to spruce up your strength training routine, adding RDLs may do the trick.

How to Do It

Add however much weight to a barbell and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed forward, and position the bar over your shoelaces. 

Keep your spine straight, shoulders back over the barbell, and bend down to pick up the bar. Press your hips forward to come into a standing position, keeping the bar close to your body. 

As you lower it back down, be sure to push your hips back, and repeat the movement for however many reps.

Where Should I Be Feeling It?

As you do an RDL, you should primarily feel it in your hamstrings and glutes. Additionally, you’ll feel it a bit in your spinal erectors and forearm flexors. 

If you feel the burn in your quads and lower back, stop what you’re doing and reassess.

You'll feel it in your quads if you squat during the movement, sinking your hips instead of pushing them back. Any spinal flexion puts weight on the lumbar spine rather than supporting it with hamstrings, glutes, and erectors.

The main thing to remember is keep your back flat and push those hips back!

Lat Pulldown

If you’re interested in strengthening the broadest muscle in your back—the latissimus dorsi—then the lat pulldown is your new best friend.

This exercise is a staple in the gym, especially for those looking to achieve that V-shaped back. However, proper form is key when doing this movement, and you want to be sure your arms aren’t doing all the work.

How to Do It

As you sit at the lat pull machine, adjust the knee pad so your knees bend 90 degrees with your feet planted. Grab the bar a tad wider than shoulder width and extend your arms as far as possible without lifting off the seat.

Keep your body tall and lean back slightly, then pull the bar to your chest while keeping your elbows and shoulder blades down and back. Once the bar reaches your upper chest, hold it there for 1-2 seconds, squeezing your shoulder blades.

In a controlled movement, return the bar to the starting position without shrugging your shoulders. The weight should be enough that you can repeat this for 8-12 reps.

Where Should I Be Feeling It?

With this upper-body pull, you should feel the lat muscles doing most of the work. These muscles are quite expansive—they span wing-like across your back from mid-spine to the upper arm.

Be cautious not to lose back engagement and have your arms take over. If you feel your biceps burning the most, odds are you need to check and adjust your form or weight.

Visit Fit Factory

All these exercises are an awesome addition to your workout routine to build and strengthen your muscles. But most importantly, be sure you’re feeling it in the right areas for optimal results and dodging injuries. 
For peace of mind, you can visit a Fit Factory near you and work with a personal trainer to ensure your form is perfect. Before you know it, you’ll start seeing stronger muscles and a more confident you!

Like this article? Check out some of our other blog posts!:
How Your Diet Can Affect Your Skin
3 Ways Exercising Benefits Your Body
5 Fitness Trends to Avoid and What to Do Instead


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