Exercises that Make Trainers Cringe

August 7, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Posted in Fitness, tips, Weight Training | Leave a comment
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Discover 5 popular movements that drive fitness experts crazy

By Adam Campbell

Dentists hate it when you don’t floss. Bartenders wince when you stumble out the door. Lawyers shake their heads when you represent yourself. After all, they know how bad the outcomes can be.

So what makes a fitness pro grimace? For starters:

1. When you “butcher” a great exercise by using poor form.
2. When you use an exercise that puts you at unnecessary risk for injury.

We polled several top Men’s Health advisers and asked them for specifics. The result: The top 5 exercises that make trainers cringe.


Yes, this “upper trap” exercise is a highly popular move used by everyone from serious bodybuilders to novice lifters. But it can be murder on your shoulders. “It’s my pick for the absolute worst exercise,” says Mike Robertson, C.S.C.S., co-owner of Indianapolis Sports and Fitness. “It puts your shoulders in a horrible position.”

That’s because the exercise requires you to rotate your upper arms inward while raising them to shoulder level or above. This puts you at high risk for shoulder impingement, a painful condition in which the muscles or tendons of your rotator cuff become entrapped in your shoulder joint. We say this is one to skip entirely; there are plenty of other great exercises you can use to work your shoulders.


A well-executed pushup is a beautiful thing: It makes trainers smile and nod with respect. Trouble is, that doesn’t happen often enough. “What you usually see is a person whose head is jutted forward and hips are sagging, both of which signal an underlying weakness or just poor form,” says Michael Mejia, C.S.C.S., owner of B.A.S.E. Conditioning in Long Island, New York. “Your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles.”

To test your form, get into a pushup position and have someone place a broomstick or dowel rod on your back. It should touch your head, upper back, and butt, and remain in contact with all three points as you perform a pushup.

Use Mejia’s cues to do a pushup with perfect form.

*Brace your core. Make yourself as long as you can (stretch out!), then imagine you’re about to be punched in the gut. This stiffens your torso, which helps prevent the movement of your spine. You need to hold this contraction for the duration of the exercise.

*Squeeze your glutes tightly. Then hold them this way for the entire exercise. This helps creates an inflexible bridge between your torso and legs, which keeps your hips from sagging.

*Keep your elbows tucked. As you lower you body, pull your elbows toward your rib cage, instead of allowing them to flare out. This reduces stress on your shoulders.


When we asked our top fitness experts to rank their favorite exercises, the deadlift was near the top of every list. Check that: A perfectly performed deadlift was near the top of every list. Once user-error was accounted for, the deadlift became cringe-worthy. The reason: Many people round their lower back when doing the exercise.

“It’s well documented that when the lumbar spine is in a flexed or ’rounded’ position, it’s more susceptible to injury,” says Joe Dowdell, C.S.C.S., co-owner of Peak Performance in New York City. “And that risk increases exponentially when resistance is pulling you further into that rounded position, as it can during a deadlift.”

The upshot: Don’t round your lower back when you do deadlifts; it could you land you in a world of hurt. Instead, you want your spine to maintain its natural shape, with a slight arch in your lower back. Warning: You might think you aren’t rounding your spine, when you actually are. Try taking a video of yourself doing the exercise and then compare your form to that in video of the deadlift below.

Read more at Men’s Health: http://www.menshealth.com/deltafit/exercises-make-trainers-cringe#ixzz22tCT29k5


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