10 Moves Trainers Think You Should Skip and What to Do Instead from 10 Moves Trainers Think You Should Skip and What to Do Instead

10 Moves Trainers Think You Should Skip and What to Do Instead

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10 Moves Trainers Think You Should Skip and What to Do Instead

December is around the corner which means that thousands of people are thinking of which gym to join to get in shape. The problem comes when they stick to the same exercises, an inevitable and common mistake. It gets worse when these moves turn out to have no benefits and only increase the risk of injury. The truth is that certain workouts actually hinder your progress and hold you back. So what do you do? Several trainers share their expert opinions.

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Don’t Do: Behind-the-Neck Lat Pulldowns

This exercise (and most exercises performed “behind-the-neck”) puts your shoulders at a high risk of impingement, Jeremy Ethier, founder of HIIT Your Body, says. “This is because this movement requires a lot of external rotation in your shoulders, which most people don't have.”

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Do Front Lat Pulldowns Instead

Lat pulldowns in front of your head/neck are a much safer option, Ethier says. Research has shown that front lat pulldowns create greater muscle activity in the latissimus dorsi than other hand positions. Another great option, he adds, is pull-ups which work several muscles in your back and can help reduce back fat.

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Don’t Use “Butt Blaster” Machines

“I see too many people using those ‘butt blaster’ machines or leg machines in general,” Jill Brown, personal trainer, fitness instructor and a wellness coach, says. Machines that have you sitting down, which is usually the position you’ve been in all day, don’t help people move better.

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Do Deadlifts and Squats Instead

“I would recommend doing more body weight squats, free weight squats (preferably deadlifts) and stiff leg deadlifts for their butts instead of machines,” Brown says. “It's much more functional, so the free weight exercises will translate to more movements you make in the real world while still making your butt look great.”

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Don’t Do Triceps Dips

Although this exercise may be fine for some people, many simply lack the shoulder flexibility required to perform this movement safely, Ethier says. Triceps dips are an exercise many people injure themselves on as it puts a lot of strain on the shoulder joint and can lead to injury if you're tight and have some imbalances in your shoulder/upper trap area, according to Ethier.

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Do Standing Cable Triceps Extensions Instead

Standing cable triceps extensions are a much safer alternative to work your triceps without putting your shoulders at risk, Ethier adds. Make sure you move the weight with your triceps and maintain control as you slowly lower the weight. 

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Don’t Do Sit-Ups

“I think people do too many sit-ups,” Brown says. “Since you cannot spot reduce belly fat off of your tummy by doing crunches, it’s futile and not great for your spine to only work your abs with sit-ups and crunches. 

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Do More Spinal Extensions

People should do more spinal extensions like supermans, Brown says. This is a very easy and pleasant exercise. You are just lying face down, and lifting your legs. Your hamstrings, rear and back all get a workout. Your neck must stay in neutral position at all times. Lift your legs and arms simultaneously forming the letter “U.”

Don’t Do Knee Extensions

“This open chain leg exercise lacks any real world application when compared to other closed chain options you can do instead,” Ethier says. “It also causes significant shear stress and ACL tension which overtime will damage your knee.”

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Do Squats and Leg Presses Instead

Front squats and the leg presses are great alternatives to build the quadriceps, as well as several other leg muscles, Ethier says. “These exercises encourage co-contraction from surrounding muscles and keep shear stress within the knee to a minimum.”

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Don’t Do Crunches

This is usually a “go-to exercise” for those looking to develop their core. However, it’s one of the least effective exercises to do so and can lead to lower back pain due to the excessive spinal flexion, Ethier says.

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Do Planks Instead

“Front planks and side planks are much better options that will work your abdominals, obliques, and help develop your Adonis Belt without straining your back,” Ethier says. There are variations of planks that are much more effective for burning fat, Brown adds. Try “pikes” and “plank saws” with a body ball or gliding discs instead and you will be a convert, she says.

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Don’t Do Upright Rows

“This is one of the worst exercises for your shoulders due to the position of the elbows and hands at the end of the movement and commonly causes shoulder impingement,” Ethier says. You’re better off avoiding it altogether. The hands are in the wrong position while holding the bar, as opposed to when holding dumbbells. Forming a straight line with the shoulders and hands causes too much stress on the muscles. That can lead to bursitis.

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Do Lateral Raises Instead

The best alternatives for upright rows are lateral raises with dumbbells, he says. “This exercise still involves shoulder abduction as in upright rows; however, it eliminates internal rotation of the shoulder to reduce the risk of injury.” The move allows you to work all the smaller muscles of the shoulder.  

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Smith Machine-Based Exercises

“I don’t believe in the Smith machine,” Bill Ross, NASM Certified Master Trainer, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and founder of Bill Ross Fit, says. “It doesn’t allow a person to move in a natural way,” he adds. This restriction of movement is a recipe for injuries. Stick to traditional squats and you’ll be better off. It requires balance and strength, but the Smith machine messes with both and isolates a few muscles only.  

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Do Push-ups Instead

The push-up is one of the best exercises for building total body strength. In addition to targeting the muscles in your chest, performing a push-up stabilizes muscles in your arms, shoulders, core, and even your legs are engaged. When you’ve mastered the traditional push-up, opt for more challenging variations of the exercise, like the decline push-up, which increases the difficulty by altering your center of gravity.

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Leg Extensions

Leg extensions are another exercise Ross is not a fan off. It increases the chance of knee problems because it increases the force across the knee cap. The machine pulls your shins back as you lower the weight. Imbalances between the quads and hamstrings develop, which can lead to numerous knee troubles. The quads are supposed to work with other muscles, not in isolation.

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Do Wall-Sits Instead

This is a timed static exercise because the muscles are contracting without movement. It’s a good addition to your leg training because you strengthen two major muscle groups in the thigh – quadriceps and hamstrings. As always, sit against the wall for as long as you can. Do several sets for30 seconds or a minute.

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Abductor Machine

“This machine is a joke,” Ross says. “It’s completely useless.” Among the many problems with this machine is that you never engage your core. You also risk straining the small muscles that are being activated, which can lead to lower back pain and hip injuries. There are much better ways to tone your legs

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Do Lunges Instead

Lunges are the go-to exercise for the legs. When done right, they can be very effective; otherwise you put unnecessary strain on your joints. You can modify the exercise to fit your fitness level. Hold weights as you move. You can hold a rubber band over your head and pull it apart. This added balance component activates the shoulder muscles, Odorisio says, giving you a nice line between the thighs and the shoulders.

10 Moves Trainers Think You Should Skip and What to Do Instead