Are you one of the millions of gym goers who feel worse after a workout? If so, you need to read this article and avoid the moves that are strenuous exercises!
Exercise is a recommended tool that everyone needs to include in their daily routine as a way to prevent disease, illness and injury. For some, exercise is a vital part of day-to-day life. For others, it’s a chore. The fact is that exercise is something we need to keep our bodies flourishing and healthy.
There is a surplus of research to back the astounding benefits of exercise (or physical activity) for many health conditions including the prevention and risk reduction of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, arthritis, and osteoporosis. While it’s not a cure-all for disease, it is extremely beneficial to include at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week. In addition to this guideline, strength training or resistance exercises are needed to help maintain a proper lean musculature and to continue a high level of functioning throughout life.
While strength training is important for maintaining muscle mass, it is also crucial for many other aspects of life, including activities that impose a great deal of demand on the body. When resistance training works, it is ideal for your body.
But, what happens when strength training goes wrong?
Listed below is an in-depth explanation on 10 strenuous exercises that can actually hurt your body and send your health down the drain in a hurry.
Strenuous Exercises That May Hurt Your Body…
Many exercise programs include planking. There is an abundance of research to support the benefits of planks for the core and lower back area. But, the research tends not to include the other way around and how planks can actually be damaging to your body.
When you consider doing a plank, you understand that you hover over the floor by a certain amount of distance and hold. This works wonders on your core, except when you do not have a core that can support your body. In fact, given the status of the American adult population, the majority of adults do not have sufficient core strength to support this exercise. This could cause back pain.
Lower back pain is caused by a number of factors, but one of the biggest reasons is due to a weak abs area. If you enjoy doing planks, but have been experiencing back pain recently, then consider strengthening your abs and lower back area before doing these. In addition, it is very wise to have a trainer, friend or workout buddy to assist with your form to ensure that your gluteal area does not sag or elevate to hold your body up. If you have poor form, more than likely your core is not strong enough for this exercise.
#2 Kettlebell Swings
Functional training is the new craze in gyms and it is designed in such a way to whip your body so that you get a quick, efficient workout in less time than traditional methods. The kettlebell swing is an essential part of functional training that can actually work wonders for your thighs, glutes, hips, abs, shoulders, and lower back area.
The only thing wrong with this exercise is that a large majority of individuals struggle to do it correctly. They either tend to pile on the weight to meet an exercise goal for that day or they simply can’t do the correct form for the exercise. Regardless of the reason, this is actually an exercise that can hurt you in a hurry.
Many people tend to swing the kettlebell up and over the head area, leaving the shoulders in a vulnerable position and load phase. In addition, when the body fatigues, the spine tends to arch and a lot of stress is placed on the back area. For this reason, the kettlebell swing needs to be put to rest before your exercise program is shut down permanently due to injury.
A perfect pull up was once something most of us could do in grade school during the presidential fitness testing. Now that adulthood has set in, a pull-up is almost impossible for must of us to complete, especially with proper form. This is one reason why it’s an exercise that can hurt your body. Unused muscles are being challenged beyond their capability to the point that muscle strain is caused.
For the typical adult, a pull-up will be completed with poor form and with muscles that are compensating for other weaker muscles that can’t complete the task of lifting the body up. As an alternative to this exercise and to work similar muscles, you should try to do a lat pull down, triceps dip, and a push-up.
If you have to complete a pull-up as part of a goal, then progressively work the muscles that are needed for this exercise. You can use a spotter or an assistive device. You can even modify and try an inverted pull up to make it work.
#4 Box Jumps
Box jumps are a form of plyometrics that are great for athletes and those who are training for performance – high performance that is. The reason this exercise makes this list is because they are dangerous for a number of reasons.
First off, box jumps create serious trauma on the leg joints (knees and ankle joints) and how to sprain your ankle. And, the hips are not far behind in this area. The crushing of the body weight on the hard surface of the floor in the gym is less than ideal for anyone looking to get healthy and live a longer life. Secondly, box jumps can cause you to lose your balance and fall over. Needless to say, that’s an injury waiting to happen.
As you do these plyo jumps, you are bound to fatigue in a hurry. When this happens, your judgment in the muscles and your eyesight can slip in a pinch, causing you to miss your footing and fly forward. If you are looking to work the muscles in a similar way, but with less risk of injury, then try a mini circuit that includes jump rope, squats and calf raises.
#5 Cable Chop/Twists
This is another move that falls into the category of back-injuring exercises. When you are using the cable cross machine, you need to resist the force of the weight going in towards the machine on both the out movement and the returning motion. While this is great for some bodybuilders and other athletes to do, the same can’t be said for most people.
Chops and twists, when done wrong, can really do damage to the spine and lower back muscles. Rather than this specific exercise to work your core area and obliques, you could try a simple oblique twist with no weights to get the same workout without the injury.
#6 Chest Flyes on a Stability Ball
This is actually an exercise that nobody should do, even most athletes including bodybuilders. A chest flye is a great exercise for the pectoral muscles and it is great for sculpting this area of the body. But, when you add in the element of a stability ball, heavy dumbbells, and an eager mind, you are likely to succumb to muscle strain and possible tears that can’t be repaired.
Rather than doing a chest fly on a stability ball, consider using a pec-deck machine to help guide you to the best chest workout. Your deltoids and rotator cuff muscles are the areas of your body that will be most grateful for you switching your exercise.
#7 Free Weight Front Squats
Again, functional training is big in the gym setting and the front squat is an exercise that is often used in these programs. A front squat is a functional move that simulates lifting weight in front of the body and the barbell is usually placed on the front of the shoulders. While many athletes enjoy the benefits of squats, the truth is this can cause severe strain on your body, especially when your form is not flawless.
It is often hard to master the front squat’s form. This leaves your body vulnerable to knee damage and hamstring strain if you are not careful. Rather than working a front squat with a free-weight barbell, consider using a Smith machine so that you can have that spotter to assist with your movement.
If you do not have a Smith machine available, you can always have a friend or trainer there to help you. If this is not a viable option, consider skipping it altogether and work on a plain squat to work similar muscles. Just be sure to avoid the free weight barbell front squat to ensure your safety and muscle health.
#8 The Upright Barbell Row
This move is still something that many do in the gym and it is hard to watch. This exercise is damaging to your shoulders and should be banned. The reason this exercise hurts in the manner that it does is because of possible tendon weakness in the shoulder area.
During the movement of the upright row using the barbell, the arms do an internal rotation. While it is okay for your arms to internally rotate, the problem lies in the continued motion. With reps of this nature, your shoulder is extremely vulnerable to strain and excessive stretching. This could lead to a muscle tendon tear or even rupture.
If you want to build toned, lean shoulders, you have better options to try. Think about swapping your upright row to a military press, lateral raise or a front raise with less weight to develop your shoulders. If you prefer to use a machine, you will find the shoulder press to be worth your time.
#9 The Sit-Up
These are an old favorite among many who want to shrink their midsection and lose weight. The abs area is, by far, the biggest spot for complaints among people who exercise, so there is no question how this exercise got on this list. The sit-up (the complete motion) can work your abs and it is great for those who need to get into the military or police academy. But, the sit-up is notorious for injuring lower backs and straining abs areas.
Many do not realize that to work the abs muscles, you only need to bend your spine by 30 degrees. This spinal bend is merely the amount it takes to lift your shoulders off the ground. Anything past 30 degrees means other muscles take over and compensate for the weaker areas. Rather than doing full sit-ups, you should try crunches (or better-termed shoulder workouts) if you want to work your abs muscles.
#10 The Deep Squat
Athletes and those who are pretty fit understand the difficulty of this exercise. Yet, many still try it when they should not and don’t even know what muscles do squats work. The deep squat is where you do a squat and lower until your heels touch your glutes. It allows for more range of motion and can promote incredible strength. The problem is it can cause you to overstretch and strain.
With all the hype of functionally working the body, this exercise should be thrown out of your program. Instead, try the regular body squat. A regular squat can work the glutes much more effectively than the deep squat and it is ideal for any functional training program you may be using.
Exercise is a way for you to work your body, circulate your blood and improve your health. But, when you do certain exercises known to cause injury, you are setting your body up for failure and potential life-long injury. Be aware of these 10 strenuous exercises so that you do not succumb to mistakes in your training program. Staying fit is something that can have you living longer, not to mention it can help you look good and feel great. But, training smart is key!
By Chris Churan, MS, Exercise Physiologist