7 Routines Fitness Experts Wish You’d Stop Doing in the Gym

Rucuss staffMay 10, 2015

Did you know that there are some exercises that are safer and more effective than others?

Well, there are. While any exercise is better than none at all, it’s still important to find the ones that are extremely safe and give the most bang for your time.

Yahoo Health has compiled a list of the top things pro trainers wish people would stop doing in the gym, plus what you should do instead to see better results. Check out the list below.

1. Using the leg curl machine


The sitting leg curl machine, however, is one worth swapping out. It can aggravate your lower back and places a lot of pressure on the knee joint, says metabolic training expert Nate Trenteseaux, owner of Underground Fitness Revolution in Alachua, Florida. (The leg extension machine can also aggravate knee issues.)

Do this instead: Squats. You’ll work more muscle groups — including your abs, back, and glutes (butt muscles), Rosante says. “Your body is going to have to work harder to perform the movement, which is going to drive your heart rate up to burn fat,” he adds. If you’re not comfortable doing squats — or any exercise, for that matter — Rosante suggests booking a single session with a personal trainer to learn proper form.

2. Box jumps


“Box jumps hurt people,” Trenteseaux says bluntly. Any jumping exercise is actually an advanced exercise that requires a high amount of strength to control the landing, he explains. It also puts a lot of stress on your feet, ankles, knees, and lower back.

Do this instead: Most box jump injuries that Trenteseaux sees occur when jumping down off the box. So go ahead and jump on the box (provided you’re in decent shape), but step down one foot at a time, he recommends. Other alternatives include skipping, jumping rope, or hops.

3. Doing squats with the Smith machine


The Smith machine is the squat rack where the bar is locked within the rack itself, so it only goes up and down vertically and you can’t remove the bar. “Smith machine squats are often touted as a good starting point for a beginner to learn how to squat, but this is false,” says strength-training expert Molly Galbraith, CSCS, co-founder of Girls Gone Strong.

Because the bar is locked into a strict vertical path, it doesn’t allow you to follow a natural movement pattern during the exercise, says fitness expert Pauline Nordin, author of Fighter Diet.

Your feet are also positioned farther forward on the Smith machine (versus directly under your hips and shoulders with the traditional back squat), which takes your hamstrings out of the equation and puts additional stress on your knees, Galbraith explains.

Do this instead: A barbell back squat, which you can perform with the bar only — or just your bodyweight — to master the movement. Or try a goblet squat, where you hold a dumbbell vertically at your chest, Galbraith suggests.

4. Running on a flat treadmill


On a zero-percent incline, running on the treadmill won’t be as hard as running outside. The motion of the tread means that you don’t have to work as much to propel yourself forward. While that may sound like a good thing, “it allows you to run faster than your knees might like,” Nordin tells Yahoo Health. You also won’t burn as many calories since you’re not working as hard, she explains.

Do this instead: Set the treadmill to a 2 percent incline to approximate the outdoors. Or crank it up even higher to target your glutes more, Nordin says.

5. Back extensions (with improper form)


Fitness expert Molly Galbraith demonstrates how to do a hip extension with correct form. (Image courtesy of Molly Galbraith)

Back extensions, also called back raises, “are one of the most butchered exercises at the gym,” Galbraith says. The problem here isn’t so much the exercise itself, but how it’s typically performed. “The majority of gym-goers don’t understand that this exercise should be done in a controlled fashion,” she says. Instead, most people use momentum to raise the torso and hyperextend (over-arch) the lower portion of the spine at the top of the exercise.

Do this instead: Think of the move as a hip/butt exercise, not a back exercise. Focus on keeping a natural bend in the spine and hinging at the hip, Galbraith says. At the top of the exercise, squeeze your butt to complete the movement. “You’ll still get lower back-strengthening benefits, but you’ll also get great recruitment,” she adds.

6. Using a weightlifting belt


A weightlifting belt is used to give your core additional support during exercises such as deadlifts. “These are only meant to be used by power lifters and Olympic lifters during their heaviest sets,” Nordin explains. During training, your back and core won’t become as strong if you always use the belt for support. It’s also controversial whether or not belts help prevent injury.

Do this instead: Before squats and deadlifts, brace your abs as if you’re about to be punched. This activates your core muscles so they can help you lift the weight.

7. Overhead kettlebell swings


Swinging a kettlebell all the way overhead can aggravate your neck and hyperextend your lower back unless you’re very mobile in your thoracic (middle) spine — which most people aren’t, Trenteseaux says.

Do this instead: Swing the kettlebell to chest-height, and work to improve your thoracic spinal mobility (often called T-spine mobility) with drills.

Photos via Yahoo.com


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