Not all exercises are created equal. Just because something gives you the burn and gives you the illusion that you are having a great workout doesn’t mean the exercise is good for you.
Let’s face it, in the fitness industry there are a lot of misconceptions and information that is downright misleading. Some information is vastly out of date but is still regurgitated regularly in stock “advice” blurbs in our media, and forms our core ideas around “fitness” even when we know better.
There are still some exercises that people cling to and refuse to give up at all, in favour of the coveted “burn”, when in reality they probably should – not only for the sake of their health and preventing injury, but to get better results.
Here are 6 exercises to STOP doing right now.
Situps were a popular way to work the core region during the 70’s and 80’s, and still run rampant today in many traditional gyms.
Bio-mechanically, sit-ups are one of the worst exercises to do for your spine and lower back health.
They involve repetitive spinal flexion, and put excessive pressure on the lower back.
The manner in which you work the core and abdominal region in a sit-up is also not conducive to real life.
When do you ever crunch or perform spinal flexion in real life? Never.
Your core muscles are meant to brace and hold, and should be worked in this manner, to develop true core strength and prevent lower back pain.
Think of all of the major movement patterns squat, reach, lift, bend, rotation, etc. They all involve stabilize or “bracing” the core region.
2. Tricep dips.
While tricep dips may give you the “burn”, there is a huge price to pay if you do them over the long haul.
Doing a dip off a chair or bench puts excessive stress on your shoulder complex, and puts you in a very vulnerable position to get injured.
This is especially true if you have excessively tight shoulders or pecs.
There are far safer ways to work your triceps without the added risk of an injury.
Rather than dipping it out all day off your dining room chair, incorporate trx tricep extensions, band or cable extensions, or tricep pushups to work the different areas of your triceps.
3. Weighted dumbbell side bends and/or side heel touch thingys.
This is probably one of the most useless exercises out there, and completely unnecessary. Sorry to sound so blunt. But just watch a video of it, and you will know what I mean.
This exercise was popularized in bodybuilding circles, and eventually made its way to traditional gyms.
Weighted side bends are meant to target the obliques, but do little in the way of actually strengthening or developing them.
Your obliques are designed for rotation through the transverse plain, and also designed to prevent or minimize pelvic (hip) rotation.
As you can see, db side bends serve none of those functions, rendering it a pretty useless exercises.
The same goes for side heal touch thingys (I don’t know the exact name of the exercise, so I just made it up). It is essentially the same thing as a side bend, just lying down.
Instead of side bends start doing more side planks, db or medicine ball woodchoppers, band rotations, Pallof holds, band woodchoppers, or trx side crunches or pendulum if you are advanced.
4. Kettlebell swings (using your shoulders).
Kb swings are a great exercises, but rarely are they done correctly.
The kb swing with the front shoulder raise became popularized in cross fit circles, and on Jillian Michaels DVDs.
To clarify, the kb swing is not a shoulder exercise, as many have been led to believe. Kettlebell swings are designed for developing hip power and extension, and predominantly work the glutes, hamstrings, and core (front and back).
Your shoulders and arms should play a minimal, if any, sort of role during a swing.
Incorporating upper body movement will naturally take away from developing any hip extension, and isolation of the glutes and hamstring.
During a kb swing keep your arms glued to your torso as much as possible, and let the glutes and hamstring do all of the work.
5. Rowing machine.
I may get some flack for this, but I’m willing to take the heat.
The rowing machine involves a lot of repetitive spinal flexion (just like a situp), which is never good for spine and back health. Your spine is not meant to be a flexed or rounded position, especially when moving through a quick and fast range of motion as seen on a rower. It is only meant to be neutral or straight at all times.
Think of a deadlift, and what would happen if you repetitively flexed your spine, rep after rep performing a deadlift with moderate to heavy load.
If you can maintain a neutral spine on your rowing machine, then go for it. But rarely, if ever, will that happen, especially as you start to get tired and begin to compensate back into that flexed position.
There are far more effective ways to improve cardiovascular ability that are much safer.
Rather than endlessly rowing and getting into spinal flexion, try these exercises to improve cardio:
– sprinting. Both regular and resisted.
– cycling or biking
– battle ropes
– sled push
– running/jogging…..I am still iffy on this type of cardio and will address this in a later blog.
– bodyweight squats or trx squat
– squat jumps, if you are ready for them.
6. Kipping pullup
Okay, I’m going to be really straight here. I hate this exercise and everything it stands for.
A KIPPING PULLUP IS NOT A REAL PULLUP!!!!!!
For god’s sakes people, stop doing this exercise immediately!!!!!!!
Ok, rant over….kind of….
Anyway, if you don’t know what a kipping pullup is, then watch this video below and you will understand my frustration.
There should be some things that aren’t allowed in a gym…. Ever…. seriously.
Kipping pullups became super mainstream in the fitness industry with the advent and popularity of CrossFit.
So why is the Kipping pullup useless?
Well, first, it does little in the way of activating and engaging your lats, the muscle worked in a pullup.
Second, it employs a ton of momentum to make the movement easier, without ever having to engage the proper muscle.
Third, it puts a ridiculous amount of stress on your joints, especially the shoulder complex.
So basically, it should never ever be done and there is literally zero benefit, other than boosting your ego and telling everyone you can do 15 pullups (even though they aren’t real ones).
Most people starting out will need to work long and hard to increase their actual pullup count. Pull-ups take years of practice to hone and get strong at. For the average male who has a ton of strength, 15 -18 pullups would be a top end number they could probably reach with strict form and years of practice. For females, with lots of strength and years of training it would be probably 8-12 on average.
So next time someone tells you they can do 10 pullups, call them out on it and get them to do it with strict form. Without years of training behind them, this will be very unlikely.
They will probably be kippers at best .
Instead of kipping your life away and destroying your shoulders in the process, try these instead:
– chinup negatives. Slow and controlled.
– chinup.pullup holds. Holding for 10s at a time, or whatever your fitness level allows.
– cable lat pulldowns
– assisted/band chin-ups.
Well there you have it. 6 exercises to stay away from and avoid at all costs to keep injury free and enhance your results.
I hope you enjoyed my rant! And more importantly hope you got a lot of this this!
Until next time….
Always here to inspire and motivate you, David Macdonald and the Vitality Fitness Team.
Editors note: As I was posting this for Dave, I was somewhat unclear on which kipping video he wanted, so I found this one and inserted it in the original version. Dave got back to me with the correct video, but we agreed that this video deserves a cameo as it is seriously funny! Extreme Kipping
You’re welcome! Sherry