We all want to be able to have an effective workout in the comfort of our own home.
Thanks to Google and YouTube, we have the ability to do that. But sometimes, we might not be doing all the exercises right, and could potentially hurt ourselves.
In fact, one of the most common causes of exercise-related injury is performing exercises or workout routines improperly.
Here are some exercises trainers advise to not do, and some alternatives that work better.
Pressed Heels Sit-Ups
The “pressed-heels” sit-up is performed like a typical sit-up, except both feet are flexed so that toes point up and heels are pressed into the ground, says Michele Olson, Ph.D., professor of exercise physiology at Auburn University in Alabama.
“It was thought that pressing the heels into the floor would increase the effort of the abdominal muscles while decreasing the load to the lower spine. But actually, EMG (electromyogram) data has shown that pressing the heels into the floor did the opposite.”
The bent-knee Pilates hundred, on the other hand, effectively works the abs with very low hip flexor activity, Olsen says. “And because only the shoulder blades are lifted off of the floor, there is decreased stress to the spine.”
To do the bent-knee Pilates hundred, lie faceup with knees and hips bent 90 degrees. Inhale and extend arms to the ceiling, palms facing forward. Exhale and lift head, neck, and shoulders off floor, pressing arms down by hips. Inhale for 5 counts and exhale for 5, pumping arms up and down on each count (while keeping torso still). Do 10 reps total.
Thigh Adductor Machine
It’s probably a strange idea to skip a machine pretty much every gym goer uses.
Pete McCall, an exercise physiologist says that our leg muscles are designed to move our body during walking — sitting in a chair and moving the legs in and out does not work the muscles the way they are designed to move our skeletal structure and is a complete waste of precious training time.
Instead, train the muscles of the inner thigh, hamstrings, and glutes with single-leg Romanian deadlifts, McCall suggests.
To do single-leg Romanian deadlifts, stand with feet together and knees slightly bent, holding a dumbbell with left hand. Engage abs, and balancing on right leg, hinge forward at hips, lifting left leg behind hip until chest is almost parallel to the floor. Keep the spine naturally straight, abs engaged, and return to start.
Seated Torso Rotation
“When using [the seated torso rotation machine], the pelvis does not move as you rotate your upper body, which can place excessive twisting forces on the spine,” says Jessica Matthews, a certified fitness instructor and exercise physiologist for the American Council On Exercise. “Plus, the main reason people use this machine is that they think it will help work off their love handles, but the reality is that it won’t help reduce fat in that area of the body.”
A rotational exercise like wood chops, using a medicine ball or cables, is a great alternative move that will challenge your midsection while sparing your spine in the process. The key is to focus on bracing the core throughout the entire movement.
To do wood chops, begin in a split stance with left foot forward, holding a medicine ball. Brace abs in tight and reach ball overhead and to the left, keeping torso steady. Slowly bring the ball down and across to right hip. Keep abs engaged and body still, return to start.
Shoulder Presses Behind Head
A shoulder press done behind the head doesn’t have any added benefits from a regular shoulder press, only increased risk,” says Rick Richey, a master instructor for the National Academy of Sports Medicine.
Even for people with the optimal range of motion, the behind-the-head shoulder press puts the shoulder joint at a highly disadvantageous and dangerous position that locks down joints at the sternum, collarbone, and shoulder blades and inhibits arm movement, he adds.
To do standard dumbbell shoulder presses, stand holding a pair of dumbbells, engage abs, and curl weights in front of shoulders. Extend arms overhead, keeping dumbbells slightly in front of the head, rotating palms outward. Bend arms and return to start.
In addition to shoulder presses that avoid going behind the head, I also recommend scaption exercises since they create minimal pain or trauma and allow for greater range of motion under resistance, Richey says.
What other exercises do you guys know might not be the best for us?