Wednesday, December 31, 2008

10 Exercises that you Can Stop Doing

Nice little article (for the most part) by AOL confirming what a lot of the experts are saying against. I don't necessarily agree with what they have to say about the squat completely.

Here is my opinion on the article and the 10 exercises.

  • Leg Extensions: They spell disaster for your knees since it is an isolation exercise and puts a ton of torque on your knees. If you have knee pain-you should NOT do knee extensions and hamstring curls, this is just not the way our muscles were supposed to work. Only if you are a body builder and do nothing else but lift and pose. Just not very functional as well.

  • Lat pulldowns and overhead lifts: I totally agree that you should not pull the bar behind your head due to the fact that it is just (once again stated) not natural. When you lift your spine should always be in a straight or "neutral" position. As for the overhead pressing I approach it like squats. Overhead pressing (military presses, kettlebell presses) and overhead pulls (pull ups, lat pulldowns) are only bad on the shoulders because you are doing them wrong. When pressing and pulling above your head you MUST make sure that your shoulder blades and packed back and down, also your ears must be in line with your shoulders.

  • Cardio: I totally agree with this one. Vary your workout speeds burns way more calories in half the time. Try going with 2 minutes at a pace that you would consider a 5 out of 10 on your exertion scale (10 being all out gasping for air), then do 1 minute at 7/10, then 2 min back at 5/10 and repeat. Here is a good one for ya. 2min 5/10-1min 7/10, 2min 5/10-1min 8/10, 2min 5/10-1min 9/10 and repeat that cycle for 2-3 rounds.

  • Sit ups: you definitely do not want to use those hip flexors to work instead of your abdominals. There are also ways to use tubing or weights to help you master the sit up. For those of you who have back problems there are much better exercises in which you stay away from spinal flexion all together (Like front, side and reverse planks for instance).

  • Abduction/Adduction Machines: I do use the ab and adduction machines for some of my therapy patients to try and get those muscles tuned in a bit, I do make them brace their abdominals and tighten their glutes while they perform the exercise. Once they master the machine (2 weeks tops) then I get them moving onto band walks, lunges, and more standing band exercises instead of machines.

  • I totally agree with side bends and twists. If you need to see some good abdominal exercises Nikki and I have some on youtube. One of them includes the thoracic rotation exercise.

  • Squats: I love doing squats. The only reason you should not do them is if your knees are absolutely shredded. But again, its not the squat that causes pain, its how you do the squat (I quote Dan John out of the book "Enter the Kettlebell" by Pavel). The picture in the article is a true reason that people have pain. When people squat now a days they are what I call "quad dominant" and have glute amnesia. The first thing people do wrong is they bend their ankles and knees to lower and this puts a crapload of pressure on your knees. Think about reaching your butt back as if you were trying to sit in a chair, your shins should not move much if at all when squatting. Another issue is squatting below parallel, if you squat below parallel then you use your glutes to come back up instead of your quads, THIS IS WHAT WE WANT! Again, concentrate on pushing your knees out and pulling back and down with your hips into your squat. Hip hinges, bench squats, and face the wall squats are great in improving your squat technique. I will work on some instruction video to help with this.

  • Toe touches: There are much better ways to improve your hamstring flexibility, hip hinges once again are a great way to improve your technique on these and not have to put yourself through all that spinal flexion business.

  • Light weights: This is an absolute truth. If you use too light of a weight then you give your body the ultimate opportunity to use whatever muscles it wants to get the weight up. If you chose a weight that you can only perform 5-10 repetitions then you HAVE to use the right posture and technique (incorporating your stabilizers) to perform the lift correctly.

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