Exercises to avoid
IntroThe number one excuse people give for not working out is that they do not have enough time for it. Everyone is pressed for time, so but some people, especially martial artists, always seem to find some time for physical training.
Since exercise time is precious, we should not squander it on exercises that are inefficient, ineffective, or unsafe. Ralf Hennig, the author of Four Way Burn, points out some moves and techniques he thinks should not be used because they waste time or put you at risk for injuries.
- Not the bee’s knees. Lifting extra heavy weights with just your thighs invites injury. This refers to the leg extension machine which isolates the muscles in the front of the thighs known as the quadriceps. Besides straining knee ligaments, this exercise may overdevelop the quads, making the back of thigh muscles (hamstrings) more likely to snap, especially if they are tight and weak in comparison to the quads. Stick to squat-and-lunge type moves for safer, superior thigh muscle building.
- Pain in the neck. A study by the National Strength Association found that behind the neck pulldowns and presses strain the delicate rotator muscles and lead to chronic shoulder, upper back, and neck pain the tissue and ligaments that support the shoulder joints. When doing pull-downs, it is best to sit up straight and pull the bar down to your chest.
- Rabbits beat snails. Some people who exercise set their cardio machines to slow every workout under the misconception that moving at a snail's pace burns more fat. A varying pace and intensity and mixing fast and slow speeds is a far more successful weight loss strategy since it addresses the body's different energy systems and muscle groups.
- Abs-olutely not. Locking your feet under something to do sit-ups may seem like a good idea but it is more likely to injure your lower back than flatten your abdomen. Anchoring your feet means most of the work is being done by the hips. To shift the work to the abs, lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor, extend your arms, and slowly roll up to a sitting position one vertebrae at a time; keep breathing as you move. The best ab floor exercise is lying on your back with your hands behind the head and touching alternate elbows to opposite knee moving the legs in a motion like that of pedaling a bicycle.
- The thighs have it. You should skip the inner and outer thigh machines because they work such a small area of muscle and because the movements are so unnatural. You may end up building the very area you are trying to trim. For toned legs, better results are obtained using exercises such as holding a weighted ball as you do basic squats, lunges, and side squats.
- Waist of time. Waist twists and side bends do not whittle your waist and, if done too often or with too much weight, they may add bulk to your midsection. Also, doing them too vigorously may lead to low back pain. A better exercise is to hold a weighted ball (2 to 4 pounds) at chest level, plant your feet firmly, tighten your abs, and slowly rotate from side to side, 8 to 15 times.
- Squat nots. Squats are the best lower body toner but, if you go too low, you may get pain in your knees, hips, and lower back. Knees especially take a beating from deep squats due to overstretched ligaments and increased pressure on the joints. Never go lower than thighs parallel to the floor, make sure your heels stay firmly planted, and keep your knees in line with your toes.
- Big bad bend. Standing and flopping forward to touch your toes is another invitation to back pain, especially if you do it quickly and with fully straightened knees. If you are prone to lower back issues, it is best to avoid this movement. Those with no back problems who do this stretch should do it slowly with softened knees to get a decent stretch through the back of the thighs and lower spine.
- Too little and too much. High repetitions per set with a light weight is a waste of precious time. Using a weight so light that you can keep pumping for minutes at a time without breaking a sweat will not do much to build strength or shape muscles. The idea that this strategy will help you avoid bulking up is a myth. Use a weight that is heavy enough that your muscles feel completely worked by the end of a set of 8 to 15 repetitions while still allowing you to maintain good form.