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  1. #1 6 terrible exercises, according to science (article) 
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    6 terrible exercises, according to science
    By: Amy Roberts, C.P.T., March 12th, 2018



    Some exercises are tried-and-true winners, both from a functional standpoint—training movement patterns you use all the time—as well as in terms of muscle activation, as determined in studies like those done by the American Council on Exercise. Still, “fitness isn’t quite so black and white,” says Jessica Matthews, M.S., exercise science professor at Miramar College in San Diego, CA, and senior advisor for health and fitness education for ACE. “You can’t really say, ‘This exercise is horrible, never do it,’ or ‘This is the best to do ever.'” That said, when it comes to these six moves there are some good, science-backed reasons to reconsider them, or swap them out for something else.

    1. The upright row
    When it comes to evaluating any exercise, you first have to ask, “What do you expect to gain from this?” With the upright row, the intention is to train the shoulder muscles. Thing is, when ACE looked at popular moves to see which elicited the most muscle activation for the anterior, middle, and posterior delts, respectively, the upright row came in toward the bottom of the list. Not only that, the position it puts the shoulders and arms in—protracted and internally rotated—can create the risk of shoulder impingement, says Matthews.

    Instead: Best to stick to exercises such as the shoulder press and incline row.


    2. The legs press
    Here’s a case where the move isn’t inherently bad, but it doesn’t necessarily do what you think it does. If your goal is to tax the quads, the legs press might have a place in your program. But if you think you’re working your glutes as well, think again. “Both the horizontal and vertical legs press fared pretty poorly compared to squats, lunges, and step-ups for the glutes, in the ACE studies,” Matthews says. The seated body position prevents the hips from fully extending at the top of the movement, leaving the glutes largely left out.

    Instead: Opt for squats, lunges, and step-ups.


    3. The pecs deck
    In the ACE study, the pecs deck actually fared quite well in terms of eliciting a high degree of pecs major muscle activation. So why does it make Matthews’ hit list? “From a kinesiological standpoint, it puts your shoulders, which become externally rotated and abducted, in a very vulnerable position,” she says. “And especially when you get into the kind of heavy loads wanted to work the chest, there’s a potential for irritating existing shoulders issues or creating new ones.”

    Instead: The old-fashioned bench press is much less risky for the shoulders.


    4. The long-hold plank
    Wait, what? Don’t all trainers extol the virtues of planks, planks, and more planks? They do, but not for the reasons you might think. “We’ve taken this exercise from building spine stability and translated it to ‘sculpting the core,’” Matthews says. “But per ACE’s studies, both the front- and side-planks yield relatively low activity from the rectus abdominus and obliques.” And when you hold it a long time—two minutes or more—as with any isometric activity, you build up waste products like lactic acid (that’s the burn you feel) but don’t otherwise get much muscle work out of it. You get much better benefit from teaching your core to stabilize against movement, which is what it’s ultimately designed to do.

    Instead: Add in plank variations, such as arm reaches or pressing up and down from forearms to hands.


    5. Bodyweight dips
    They ranked No.2 in muscle activation in the triceps per ACE, and they’re pretty functional in the sense that they’re similar to the action of pushing yourself up out of bed or a chair. However, dips require a great amount of shoulders stability. “If you think about it, the ball and socket of your shoulder is kind of like a golf ball on a tee—it can move a lot, but can also be unstable.” If you don’t have the strength in the supporting muscles, you risk impingement of the nerve endings.

    Instead: A safer bet for strengthening the triceps: triangle pushups or tricep kickbacks.


    6. Seated torso rotation
    Though not on the ACE studies, Matthews doesn’t need info on muscle activation to support her assertion that this machine should continue to collect dust in a remote corner of the gym. First off, people do it because they think it will literally whittle away love handles—impossible, because you can’t target train anything like that. Second (and more detrimentally), biomechanically, loading and twisting your waist puts excessive force on the spine. “You have to look at the potential pros and cons,” says Matthews. “In this case, the cons far outweigh the pros.”

    Instead: If you’re looking for rotational core exercises, opt for wood chops with a medicine ball or a cable, which work the obliques and other core muscles while sparing the spine.
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    Damn, I have always done # 1, 2, 3 and 5
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    I like most of her points but disagree with 'pecs' deck...both spelling and rationale
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    This is interesting. On a personal level upright rows are horrible and I hurt my shoulder years ago doing, a really bad impingement that took me 6 months to fix. THe bodyweight dip surprises me but the explanation makes sense. The leg press I tell people so often that squats, lunges etc are so much better for overall leg development that includes the glutes.
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    i had done over a decade of planking. its too easy, doesnt do much and most people are too weak and dont have the mind/body connection to do them properly.
    i also have a low opinion of crunches and dumb bell delt raises. once crunches get easy, you got to move on to something more challenging. same for delt raises. maybe for rehab or prehab but after a decade i had to admit these things arent doing a damn thing anymore
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    Quote Originally Posted by zenmonky View Post
    i had done over a decade of planking. its too easy, doesnt do much and most people are too weak and dont have the mind/body connection to do them properly.
    i also have a low opinion of crunches and dumb bell delt raises. once crunches get easy, you got to move on to something more challenging. same for delt raises. maybe for rehab or prehab but after a decade i had to admit these things arent doing a damn thing anymore
    Planking is shit, only useful for punishing people in BMQ / police academy etc

    Unweighted ab training is silly unless you're doing legit hanging leg raises

    DB laterals on the other hand...are we talking about the same exercise, here? I go 15x 30lbs, 12x 40lbs, 10x 50lbs and struggle pretty hard to keep decent form for 8 reps of 60lbs...
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    Except for the idiotic plank, there are countless variations of all thee exercises to make them more effective.
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    Quote Originally Posted by snowpatrol View Post
    Planking is shit, only useful for punishing people in BMQ / police academy etc

    Unweighted ab training is silly unless you're doing legit hanging leg raises

    DB laterals on the other hand...are we talking about the same exercise, here? I go 15x 30lbs, 12x 40lbs, 10x 50lbs and struggle pretty hard to keep decent form for 8 reps of 60lbs...
    yes. they just dont seem to be doing anything. i just do pressing movements now. 60lbs? that is a good weight, though
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    Lately I've done the pec deck with my palms facing down, holding onto the handles used for the rear dealt, instead of palms facing in.

    I find I get a better stretch across the top of my pec without the shoulder stress.

    Lots of different variations of all these exercises.

    Interesting article though enough to make you think about variations etc.
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    -- I do 3 of the 5 on a regular basis and dips was a frequent, almost daily exercise in the clink. I don't do them now as I'm much heavier and just more options at the gym. From time to time my shoulders (sometimes one or both) ache tremendously. It's kind of just a persistent dull and nagging throb.

    I haven't pinned down the culprit but the top suspects have been the pec deck and a seated bench press machine by 'Atlantis'. I still do pec deck but click the swing arms forward more so I don't have to reach as far back when starting and stopping and throughout the movement. I rarely go heavy, maybe 90lbs - 120lbs, and sit up high-ish so my shoulders are more square and not dropped. I might consider dumping it altogether and just do manual fly's. I do upright rows but never considered them to be a danger. After reading this article I might consider other options and see if dropping some of these from my routine helps the shoulders. As for that seated bench machine; I stopped using that for seated tricep presses some time ago. At the moment my shoulders are fine so I just need to exercise more caution.
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