The Four Most Often Used and Overrated Exercises

We are a sedentary population there is no denying that. Even those who work out for over an hour a day would still be considered sedentary because after that workout they end up sitting at their desk eight to nine hours a day. Let's be honest we are a guilt ridden society full of  good intentions. For instance, we know we need to be more active, so when we do decide to exercise we often punish ourselves as a penance for our sloth.  Unfortunately we often pick the worst exercises possible, perform them with horrible form and then decide we accomplished our goal because of our inability to walk the following day.  That is just plain crazy. 

Many exercises are done incorrectly, at too many repetitions which end up hurting people. Lunges would arguably have to top the list as the most ineffective and useless exercise of them all. Lunges teach us one thing and that is the primary muscle being worked which is your Adductor Magnus is the third strongest muscle that extends your hip.  When stepping to perform a lunge you are skipping an eccentric contraction (foot is in the air) so there is zero stability in your knees and hips so every muscle now acts like a brake to prevent you from smashing your kneecap into the ground because there is zero stability in your patella femoral joint. This goes for Step Ups or ridiculous Step up cardio as well. When you step up on a platform your knees get trashed because there is zero stability in your knee and they need this stability to function properly. Let’s use the opposite of a step up which is a step down which is a much better choice because this will generate an automatic knee stability response and which will benefit the knee in a positive way. Weighted back squatting is another dangerous and overrated exercise.  When you put a weighted bar on your back you will compress your spine. Compressing the spine is not something you want to do; essentially squatting is a back exercise. Most people think that when they are doing a weighted back squat they are working the muscles of their lower body. In theory we are trying to work our glutes and legs when squatting but your back unfortunately is very bad at transferring force to the lower body and you end up using your back way too much.  From a functional anatomy standpoint think about how you hold the bar while squatting, you have to externally rotate your shoulders to hold it properly on your back which will force you to put the lumbar spine into extension which is exactly what we don’t want to do. An overwhelming amount of people are unable to squat with their own body weight to begin with. They will essentially use the weight of the bar on their back as a springboard to push them through the range of motion, giving them the feeling that they have more strength than they actually do.  Crunches can also cause you more harm than benefit. When you do crunches you are asking a stable part of your spine (lumbar) to move. By doing this you will develop disc problems, tight hip flexors, loss of glute function, poor posture and develop poor core sequencing. What is even worse than crunches are crunches with rotation because you have even less rotation (13 degrees) than you do of flexion. The majority of the population has really bad posture in a seated position so why then put yourself into bad posture an additional 250 times a day (if you did 250 situps)? These are not opinions but facts and I don’t want people hurting themselves with improper exercise. Remember physical challenges may in fact make us tougher but intelligently designed physical challenges make us stronger. Isn't the goal of life to enjoy it rather than simply survive it?

Jordan Nichols