First, before we get into today’s list, I want to share three rules that me and my trainers live by at Fit-2-The-Core when coaching our members through our Results Based Metabolic Resistance and Cardio Classes.
1) Absolutely NO talking during the performance of an exercise
2) Perfect form must be used in every exercise
3) This ties into number 2…Bodyweight progressions before ever adding weight. In other words if you can’t do an exercise with your bodyweight with perfect form, you can’t add weight.
Sometimes this doesn’t go over very well with some clients who like to “gab” more than they liked to workout, or clients who liked to say they could do 5 push-ups, when all they could REALLY do was 5 “quarter reps” with their elbows flared and their chin and hips getting closer to the ground than their chest. And it seems they just can’t except that right is right and wrong is wrong.
The bottom line is that we take our training serious her at Fit-2-The-Core. You want a buddy to chat with? Train somewhere else. And if you want someone to throw you through a workout no matter how you perform the exercises, then go somewhere where beating you up is the norm and pain is expected.
Sorry, but I care too much about my clients to let them get hurt or getting irritated by people who want to talk more than work.
And because we take our training seriously, I’ve built up a list of exercises that should no longer be in your workouts because they are ineffective or downright dangerous.
Here are the top 10 exercises to remove from your program right now.
#1 – The Elbows Flared Push-up
The shoulders flared push-up – where your hands are placed wide on the ground and your elbows are pointed out to the sides – which is the most damaging to your shoulders, and also doesn’t do any favors for your neck and lower back. Simply this position allows your shoulder to impinge, your chin to drop and your lower back to hyperextend.
To make this exercise safer for your shoulder joint, rotator cuff, neck and lower back, simply tuck your elbows to your body – so they point more towards your feet – and bring in your grip by 1-2 inches which will save your shoulder, relax your shoulders and keep your neck neutral(No flexion or extension) which will save your neck and keep your core stiff, so your lower back stays neutral, which will save your lower spine.
In fact anyone who can’t do a push-up correctly should start with simpler progressions, such as elevated push-ups, front planks (to develop appropriate stability in your core), push-ups on the knees, Elbow push-up on feet and then finally progress to a traditional push-up.
#2 – Anything done with a rounded back (even picking up dumbbells)
It doesn’t matter if you’re squatting, dead lifting, straight-leg dead lifting, rowing, or even doing triceps kickbacks, you must STOP doing these exercises with a rounded lower back.
That’s a one-way ticket to a herniated disc. In other very bad if you dont like back pain.
So make sure that you brace your abs, and keep your back in the neutral position – and even with a slight arch in your low back – as you do dead lifts, squats, and Stiff Leg Dead lifts (RDLs).
If you don’t know what I mean, or you still aren’t comfortable with those exercises, by all means DROP them and just ask for a substitute exercise. There are plenty of other movements I can recommend.
And one more thing…I see a lot of people (including my clients) who use great form in all exercises and then pick up Kettle Bells, Medicine balls, even their towel off the floor with a rounded back.
That’s another no-no.
You can just as easily hurt your back doing that as you can in an “official” exercise. So always, always, ALWAYS pick stuff up by bending at the knees and keeping the object close to your body – but NEVER by rounding your back (even when tying your shoes!).
Even if picking up the towel off the ground won’t hurt your back, it’s just a bad way to teach your body to get in correct positions correctly. There is a great quote that is so true “The way you do anything, is the way you do everything”. Practice makes perfect!
#3 – Bench dips (where your hands are placed on the bench behind you)
Here’s the problem with these bench dips according to Bill Hartman Wrold Renown rehabilitation and corrective exercise expert …
“To achieve that much range of motion the scapula must tilt forward which is a pretty unstable position. This also means that the shoulder joint is unstable and increases demands on the rotator cuff especially the subscapularis”.
“Over time this is a lot of undesirable stress leading to impingement of the cuff. This doesn’t even consider the stress on the AC joint. It’s also a crap exercise for overload.”
In other words bad for your shoulders. So cut those out of your program immediately. I can think of many other exercises that are much better for health and body compostion su ch as Push-ups, Hands on MB Push-ups, TRX Tricep Extensions, close grip bench press etc…
#4 – Behind the Neck pull-downs or presses
I believe most people just don’t have enough shoulder and scapular mobility to perform these types of exercises safely. And because my clients health is of utmost importance to me, I’m putting all “behind the neck” exercises on the no-fly list for your workout.
Some coaches say they are fine, and other coaches say it depends on the individual. And while I agree that some folks can do these without a problem, I look at it this way:
There’s NO good reason to risk your shoulder with these exercises when you get equal results from modified, safer versions of these exercises or simply by using other movements.
The risk is just not worth the reward. So be conservative and do your shoulders a favor by dropping all behind the neck movements and go with the front version instead.
#5 – Crunches
I recommend dropping crunches, and so does Mike Robertson, Men’s Health fitness expert, who recently wrote this about the crunch debate:
“I can’t believe we’re still arguing this stuff. I would’ve hoped by now that we’ve all thrown crunches and sit-ups by the wayside…think about the body-wide effects of crunching – a crunch trains the rectus abdominus by pulling the rib cage down.
“When we pull the rib cage down, we increase the thoracic (upper spine) kyphosis. This sets off a cascade of events – we increase the kyphosis, thus losing thoracic-spine extension. This consistently puts our scapulae in a poor position, not to mention putting our gleno-humeral joint( Shoulder Joint)at an increased risk for impingement as well.”
Let me translate Mike’s science…
Basically he said, STOP doing crunches!
#6 – Side bends
Unless you’re a power lifter or strongman competitor, you can stay away from side bends.
You don’t want to repeatedly bend your spine sideways any more than you want to flex your spine forward with crunches and sit-ups.
And besides, who has ever gotten sexy abs with side bends? Train the core for function. Also if you really want to see your abs, check your diet, no matter what exercise you do, you will not see your abs if your nutrition is crap.
#7 – Plyometrics to Failure
Hey, I appreciate the fact that people are putting more athletic movements into their fat loss programs. After all, you will get more results with athletic training than slow cardio.
But…you must be smart with your training. Doing “explosive” exercises to the point of muscle failure – and therefore, to the point of improper form – is simply wrong.
That’s what causes injury. And that causes people to drop out of their fat loss program.
So listen…be conservative. YES, you can use jump training in your fat loss program…after you have built up through progressions that teach you to land properly and develop strength in your muscles and tendons to handle the ground forces developed from this type of training.
And even then you can’t be doing plyometrics to failure. You can’t be doing plyometrics with sloppy form. And you can’t be getting hurt.
Train hard, but train safe.
#8 – Russian twists
Don’t do this exercise. It combines spinal flexion and rotation, and is unsafe for your low back. Sorry, it belongs in Siberia!
A safer version would be to get in the same position but keep the rotation in your upper back by keeping the arms and hands from moving outside of your shoulders while keeping your shoulder retracted and your core braced. This way you turn it into an Anti-Rotation movement for the spine and an upper body rotation for your thoracic spine where you’re meant to have it.
#9 – Sit-ups
Sit-ups are far worse for your low-back than crunches. As Mike Robertson wrote in his ab training article:
“You may not like Stuart McGill (expert on lower back health), but the guy has done his homework on the spine. If you want to get your lower back healthy, there are safer and more effective ways to train the core than performing sit-ups until you enjoy the unique pleasure of a herniated disc.”
I agree with him 100%. I think we do enough sitting nowadays anyways that causes more than it’s share of problems.
#10-Most Machines Based Exercises-
Machines have no place in any exercise program with the exception of cable column machine exercises that can be used for rows or other standing variations of pushing and pulling. We should train in a way that targets movements not muscles and also challenges the stabilizers of our joints which play a huge role in joint health throughout the whole body.
Single-joint, isolation exercises involve the use of only one joint at a time. Classic examples are leg extensions and leg curls (only involve the knee joint) and biceps curls and triceps extensions (only involve the elbow joint). Though these single-joint, isolation exercises may result in a better “pump” or “burn” in a specific muscle that makes it feel more effective, it doesn’t mean that they are providing the optimal muscle-building stimulus when compared to their multi-joint, compound counterparts.
Multi-joint, compound exercises involve functional movement patterns that occur in the real world across multiple joints at the same time thus resulting in greater total muscle activation and heavier loading and subsequently greater calorie burning, fat loss, and muscle growth.
So instead of leg extension go for KB Goblet Squats which involves more joints and muscles and resulting in a higher metabolic boost and more fat calories burned throughout the day.
So there you have it, 10 exercises to avoid. Your fitness goals should include body composition health and performance. And staying away from the exercises on this list is a great start for a fitter and healthier body in 2012.
Take advantage of our 14 day no obligation metabolic jump start program and see why we can guarantee our clients results. I’ll give you a hint on one reason why: We actually care about you and your fitness goals, thats right your more than just a member to us, your goals are our goals!