exercises are not created equal. Some exercises
are good, some exercises are great, and some exercises
are an injury just waiting to happen. Knowing
which exercises to avoid can save you many months
if not years of pain and frustration.
1. Avoid Upright Rows
Upright Row exercise is done to develop the shoulders
and traps. Holding a barbell or dumbells in front
of your with a close, overhand grip, you pull
the weight up to your chest, keeping it close
to your body, leading with your elbows.
Upright Row is one of the most harmful exercises
you can expose your shoulders to. The problem
with the exercise lies in the position your arms
must be in in order to perform the movement. This
position is called "internal rotation."
To demonstrate internal rotation, hold your arms
straight out to the sides with your palms down.
Now rotate your hands forward as if you were pouring
out a glass of water in each. To do the upright
row, the arms are bent at the elbow then internally
rotation itself is not necessarily bad for your
shoulders. The problem comes when you raise the
arms up and add resistance in that position. Every
time you raise the weight, a small tendon in your
shoulder gets pinched (known as impingement) by
the bones in the shoulder. This may not hurt immediately;
it may not even hurt for a long, long time. The
problem is the tendon will gradually become worn
down and damaged. You may not even know you have
a problem until one day the tendon snaps!
of upright rows, stick to exercises such as dumbell
presses, military presses and various raises.
They are far safer for the shoulders.
exercise is done to work the muscles of the back.
While the exercise itself is actually effective
for working the back, the problem with the exercise
lies in what it can do to your shoulders.
the previous exercise, I talked about internal
rotation of the shoulders. The problem with the
behind-the-neck pulldown lies in "external
rotation." Going back to the arms out to
the side example, instead of pouring water forward,
rotate your arms backward so that your palms are
facing up. It's basically the opposite movement
to internal rotation.
do the behind-the-neck pulldown as normally instructed,
you must externally rotate your shoulders as much
as possible. This is a very delicate position
for your shoulders. The supporting muscles of
the shoulders (known as the rotator cuff) are
not in a good position to stabilize the joint
and injury to those supporting muscles can result,
which can lead to further injury in the connective
tissue of the joint.
top of that, since most people do not have enough
shoulder flexibility to get a straight line of
pull behind the neck, they must bend their neck
forward to even do the movement. This can result
in neck strain on top of shoulder strain.
information also applies to the behind-the-neck
pull-up exercise. The mechanics of the movement
are exactly the same, the only difference being
you're pulling yourself up instead of pulling
the weight down.
to exercises that are in front of the body, such
pulldowns, close-grip pulldowns and pull-ups to
Behind-The-Neck Shoulder Presses
Behind-The-Neck Press gives us the same shoulder
issues associated with the Behind-The-Neck Pulldown.
To do the movement, you must maximally externally
rotate the shoulders. Again, this places the shoulders
in a very vulnerable position, which can easily
result in strain in the Rotator Cuff muscles.
as with the pulldowns, most people simply don't
have the necessary shoulder flexibility to get
a straight line on the movement - they must tilt
their head forward to get the bar behind it, adding
greatly to the possibility of injury.
to the military press and the dumbell press for
your shoulder pressing movements.
Stiff-Legged Deadlifts On A Bench
Stiff-Legged Deadlift, properly done, is actually
a very good movement for the hamstrings, glutes
and lower back. The problem comes when, in an
attempt to increase the stretch on the hamstrings,
the exercise is done standing on a block or bench.
get the most stretch on the hamstrings and to
protect the lower back from injury, an arch should
be maintained in the lower back during the movement.
It's extremely difficult to maintain an arch in
the lower back when you are stretching down as
far as you can towards the floor with a barbell
pulling you down.
the arch, as a natural result, the spine will
flex and the supporting muscles of the spine will
relax. This places much of the tension of the
exercise directly on the connective tissue and
bones of the spinal column rather than the supporting
muscles, which are stabilizing the spine. In an
effort to get more stretch on the hamstrings,
you instead compromise the support structures
of your lower back.
get more of a stretch on the hamstrings without
standing on a bench and compromising your lower
here to have a look at the technique in action.
The Standard Sit-Up
you enjoy having a pain-free lower back, the regular
floor sit-up is a good exercise to avoid. When
you do a sit-up, the mechanics of the movement
and position of your body throw much of the torque
of the movement onto your lower back. Your hip
flexors pull directly on your spine in order to
raise your torso off the floor when you do the
exercise, leading to strain in the lower back
top it off, the abdominal muscles (the real target
of the exercise) are only worked isometrically.
This means they don't actually contract and move,
they just work to hold the torso steady while
the hip flexors do the pulling. This is not a
very effective abdominal exercise.
will be far better off performing direct abdominal-training
movements such as crunches,
ball crunches, cable crunches, etc. These exercises
directly target the abs without throwing excessive
tension on the lower back.
excellent exercise for the abdominals that is
similar in look to the regular sit-up but focuses
on the abs is the Abdominal Sit-Up. You
can read more about it by clicking here.
The exercises you do have a profound effect on
your training and your health. Be sure to choose
exercises that will help you move forward towards
your goals and not set you back through injury.
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