Monday, June 1, 2015

The 2 Worst Bodyweight Exercises No One Should Do!

 Today I'm going to dive into detail on two of the most over used, dangerous/damaging, and ineffective bodyweight exercises being used today. Believe it or not, these two exercises are ones I see performed on a daily basis in parks and gyms by both avid fitness enthusiasts and new trainees. Even WORSE, there are some trainers out there who are still programming these two exercises for their clients!

  Don't get me wrong, I've done these exercises in the past. Regretfully, I even programmed them in my early days. However, I started completely removed them from my clients training years ago and replaced them with much more effective and safer exercises.

 On the outside both of these bodyweight exercises seem harmless, but when taking a closer look it's not hard to see the problem with each. The bodyweight exercises I'm talking about are ...

Bench Dips and Crunches!

 Both bench dips and crunches have been around forever! They're probably two of the most recognized bodyweight exercises other than push ups and chin ups. This is probably the reason people who aren't fitness professionals add them to their bodyweight based routines. They're simple to do, require little to no equipment, and they can be done anywhere. I'm sure people also use them for the immediate "burn" you feel through the triceps during bench dips and their abs during crunches. If the muscle burns, then hey ... you must be getting a good workout, right?

 Yes, that was heavy sarcasm!

 But what about trainers/coaches who are still programming these exercises? If these are two of the worst exercises then why are so many coaches/trainers still giving them to their clients? Well, it's pretty simple ... they lack education or they're stuck in their ways! That's the only excuse for any trainer/coach to still be giving these out to their clients. If you have a trainer who is still giving you these exercises,  I would seriously suggest finding a new trainer. They're under qualified and under educated, or they just stopped learning a long time ago! Either way, they're not worth your hard earned money.

 So what's so bad about Bench Dips and Crunches?

 Well, they're two very different exercises that are being used by people in hopes of achieving different goals. Lets take a look at why they're used, why they're terrible, and what you can replace each with! Here we go ... 


Why People Do Them: Crunches are commonly used by people to train their abs in hopes of making their abs "pop" or to strengthen their core. Unfortunately, you could do 10,000 crunches a day and you're abs still wont show unless you have a low body fat percentage. If you want your abs to show you need to be eating clean. You need to cut the junk out of your diet and replace it all with fresh vegetables, fruits, meat, eggs, nuts/seeds, and good fats. You can't out work a shitty diet! 

 As for working your abs/core ... well crunches just aren't going to do the job! The main functions of the abs are to stabilize the spine by preventing rotation and extension. You could do tons of crunches and still have a weak core because you're not actually doing what your abs were designed to do in the first place. 

Why They Suck:  

- They don't train the main purpose of the abs, anti rotation and anti extension.
- They make the muscles that are commonly tight in people who sit all day even stronger/tighter. This contributes to even worse posture and dysfunction.
- They repetitively flex the spine and can cause or increase back pain and injury.
- They don't actually make your abs or core any stronger. 

What To Replace Them With:

- Planks
- Roll outs using an ab wheel or stability ball
- Hollow body holds
- L-Sit or tuck knee holds 
- Any of these ab exercises found in the video below! It's an old video, but still has exercises that hold up!

Bench Dips

Why People Do Them: They want defined triceps or they're looking to increase the size of their triceps. They're also looking to build upper body strength. If you're looking for more defined triceps, just like abs, you need a lower body fat percentage. This comes from your nutrition, see the pattern here? If you're looking for increased size of strength, there are plenty of other exercises that target and incorporate the triceps in a much safer and more effective manner. These other exercises will also have more carry over to athletics and every day life as compared to the bench dip. 

Why They Suck:

- They internally rotate the shoulder and extend it, putting the shoulder joint in a very unstable and weak position
- They add load to the shoulder joint in the unstable/weak position
- They don't work the body in a natural plane of movement 
- They reenforce poor posture 
- The only way to make them harder is to put your feet on a bench, or add more weight, making the exercise even more dangerous then it was originally
- They increase the likelihood of shoulder injuries and can be directly responsible for shoulder injuries

What To Replace Them With:

- Push Ups (done properly) will work the triceps effectively
-  Triceps extensions  (1:37 into the video)

There you have it! Those are my top 2 worst bodyweight exercises that none of you should be adding to your fitness routine. If you're doing them, stop. If you were thinking of adding them, don't! There are far more effective ways to get the results you want from your training. If you don't know where to start, want to avoid mistakes made by designing your own program or getting an under qualified coach, then check out my online training packages!

- Tim 

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