If you're like me, you probably started out exercising, getting your strength training information from magazines. So with a degree in magazinology, you basically followed every routine that worked out for some oversized gym rat or inexperienced model.
What you don't read about are the aches and pains some of these "experts" go through by doing contraindicated exercises. What are contraindicated exercises? Exercises that go against natural movement, and that may cause harm to you in the long run.
Because the body is resilient, you can get away with doing something bad for a long time before it puts up the "Out of Order" sign. This is why some muscleheads believe questionable exercises work because "Listen buddy, I've been doing this for 20 years, I know what I'm doing" then pops 5 advils in his mouth.
Don't believe the hype. Most bodybuilders and trainers have injuries by doing the stupidest things. (I can testify!) We just hide it behind all that muscle.
Not to sound like an overprotective parent, but I'm going to share some exercises you shouldn't do so you don't end up going through what I went through.
Ahh, the age-old sit-up. You grew up watching Rocky, Arnold and many more doing this hip busting exercise. Sure it works out your abs, but not without dragging the lower back into Pain Land. Most people with bad backs cannot do sit-ups because of the strain it puts on the lower back. That's because the hip flexors are more than likely dominating the whole movement, which pull on the spine because it's connected to it.
Don't know where your hip flexors are? They are located on either side of the groin area. It makes matters worst if you have a sedentary lifestyle because those muscles may be shortened due to a predominately seated position. You can get rock hard abs doing safer exercises like the plank or crunches.
BEHIND THE NECK PULL DOWNS, PULL-UPS OR SHOULDER PRESS
What do all these exercise have in common? You can't see your hands! This movement forces the shoulder to externally rotate to a vulnerable position. (Sort of like a baseball pitcher with his arm behind him-ask those guys how their shoulders are doing.) The stabilizer muscles in the shoulder (rotator cuff muscles) are not able to support neither position nor load and will have you singing songs to the orthopedic doctor.
What's worse is the position of the neck, whereas most people fhave to bend it forward to complete the movement. Some will argue that they have great flexibility, and I just have to say most Americans are as stiff as the guests of a city morgue. If you want to save your shoulders, keep the bar in front of you as they produce the same results.
LONG DISTANCE RUNNING
Can someone say arthritis? This exercise can beat up on the joints like you hired someone to do it. Most amateur marathoners are more banged up than the cars in the Indy 500. Although some studies have shown that there is no relation between long distance running and osteoarthritis, distance running performed by a population that suffers from muscle imbalances, bad posture, and faulty movement patterns are injurious at best.
Not to mention that fat loss and cardio is better achieved through interval training. Now remember that the body can take a beating before it gives out, which can give some deconditioned people the impression that it's ok. If your going to run long distances over an extended period of time, I would suggest consistent stretching, muscle strengthening and soft tissue work.
In an effort to sculpt the shoulders, sooner or later this exercise with have you writing with your feet. Think of pouring two really heavy pitchers of water into a bucket, one in each hand. The added resistance while raising the arms up causes the small tendon in your shoulder to get pinched.
This impingement caused by bent arms at the elbow and internally rotated shoulders, is begging for that small tendon to snap. This excessive internal rotation is opposite what's done in the aforementioned behind the neck exercises, but equally as dangerous. Sculpt your shoulders with safer exercises like the dumbbell press or front lateral raise.
Leg extensions are great if light weights are used for therapeutic and rehabilitation purposes. But if you think this will help you kick butt better by lifting the rack, you're wrong. First off, the quads function as reactors to gravity and ground reaction forces, not by selectively contracting against artificial machines. Secondly, when you pull your kneecap against the rest of the joint as tightly as is physically possible, you're grinding away at the cartilage.
Years of this will have you looking for a seat everywhere you go, even on the ticket line! Now if you insist on getting that teardrop in the front of your legs with this machine, don't go too heavy and do not lock the legs out at the top. Better exercises are squats, lunges, and step ups.
For more information, check out http://www.ammoathletics.com