Thursday, August 22, 2013

8 Things I Saw Today That Made Me Cringe

As a personal trainer, it's my job to ensure my clients practice good technique. Unfortunately, though, when I'm at a gym besides my own, I have to keep my mouth shut. After all, how would you like it if a stranger walked up to you while you were training and told you that you were doing an exercise wrong?

Nonetheless, it really pains me to stand by and watch others do more harm than good to their bodies. The following list goes out to all the people I saw today doing just that.

8 Things I Saw Today That Made Me Cringe:

  1. Piked hip push-ups. A push-up is nothing more than a dynamic plank. Be sure to maintain a straight line from ankles all the way to shoulders.

  2. Round upper back dumbbell rows. Rows are a scapular retraction exercise. The scapulae can't be retracted if they're protracted. Puff up that chest!

  3. Flexed neck pull-ups. Unless you want a migraine, don't look down while doing pull-ups. Instead, maintain a neutral neck throughout the movement.

  4. "Stripper" deadlifts. Characterized by complete knee extension before any hip extension, these look silly and increase the risk of low back injury. Once the bar is past the kneecaps, hips and shoulders should rise together.

  5. Back extensions with hyperextension. The confusion is understandable; the "hyperextension," as it's often called, is actually a misnomer. In fact, there should be no hyperextension of the low back at all. The exercise should instead be performed for hip extension, using the glutes as the prime mover and stopping when a neutral spine position is reached.

  6. Heavy squats with valgus collapse. Do not load the bar up if you can't deep squat your own bodyweight without your knees knocking together. If you do, you're pretty much asking for a knee injury.

  7. Overhead swings. Swings are one of the best exercises for developing explosive hip power. Overhead swings are one of the best exercises for developing shoulder pain. Keep the arms relaxed, and use only the hips to drive the weight up to shoulder height.

  8. Crunches, side bends, and sit-ups. Endless spinal flexion isn't the best way to get washboard abs. If you want a six-pack, eat better. If you want incredible core strength, work on core stability exercises like a planks, rollouts, and suitcase carries.

Clearly, despite the tremendous advancements that have been made in the world of strength and conditioning over the last decade, the general population remains in the dark. Bad technique and poor exercise selection might not have hurt these gym-goers today, but it will in the long run -- consequently preventing them from reaching their fitness goals.

Always seek out sound training information so that you, too, don't fall victim to these same mistakes.

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