Exercise takes time, dedication, and plain-old hard work. You are exercising for your health and happiness, so you want to be doing exercises that are beneficial for your body, not ones that will harm or injure you. Here are five exercises you might want to avoid the next time you hit the gym.
1. Seated Knee Extensions
This exercise is a fairly popular one for targeting your quadriceps. However, it can also pose a major risk to your knees as they fully extend. In fact, lifting weights in this position is not what your knees were designed to do, adding stress to your joints, strain to your tendons, and compression to the cartilage in your knees.
Instead Try: Squats and lunges to target and strengthen your quads.
2. Ab Machines
Ab crunch machines may look effective, but they actually limit you to one confined movement. This can lead to herniated discs and other back-related pains and injuries.
Instead Try: Traditional crunches, and crunches with a rotation to effectively target those ab muscles.
3. Bench Press
A lot of gym buffs out there might scoff at this, but the bench press can actually be very detrimental to those who do not know how to use it or the multiple uses it can have. This can lead to rotator cuff problems as your shoulder muscles are developing at an imbalance, horizontally.
Instead Try: Portable dumbbells. Using these give you more flexibility in how you can hold the weight, as well as positioning, opening up more ways to work that group of muscles than the one, restricted movement.
4. Seated Shoulder Press
This exercise is supposed to target your shoulders and triceps, but because the press is performed in a sitting position, you do not get the assistance from your hips that you need to naturally push something over your head. This leads to pressing on your shoulder joints and undue stress.
Instead Try: Medicine ball throws – bounce a medicine ball off of a wall in front of you.
5. Inner/Outer Thigh Machines
Both of these machines are very popular and found in most gyms. Both machines operate from a sitting position with the intention of targeting the inner and outer thigh muscles. However, these muscles are meant to support movement, not be the prime movers, so there is a lot of risk in aggravating your hips and lower back, as well as straining the smaller muscles surrounding your knees.
Try Instead: body weight exercises like abductions. Pilates is a very good example of some of the thigh exercises you can incorporate into your workout.
What are some exercises you’ve started to use as an alternative to weight machines? Do you have any tips for people suffering from gym-induced pains or strains? List your suggestions and questions in the comment box below!
To a Safe and Beneficial Workout,
Dr. Roger Sahoury
Above and Beyond Wellness Center.