The exercises discussed below are great ones and used by many in gyms across the country. However, if performed improperly they can do more harm than good. I must also say that this goes for any exercise that if performed in a sloppy or improper manner, has the potential to cause injury. I am NOT saying these exercises are bad but I am saying proper form in vital to avoid possible injury.
Get in – Get Out: Sometimes we just want to get in the gym, get the workout done and get home. The ultimate goal of a workout is to get the most benefit possible from your time in the gym and to squeeze the maximum benefit possible from each rep performed. Leave your work related or home related stress issues at home or at work. Don’t take them to the gym. Instead, focus on the task at hand to obtain the most benefit from your time in the gym. After all, exercise is an investment in YOU so make the most of it. Now let’s look at those 5 exercises I was referring to earlier.
- Squats: This is an awesome exercise that brings several muscle groups into play However, if performed improperly the result could be an injury and much discomfort. As with any exercise form is very important. If you go too deeply, bend forward slightly or extend the knees over the toes you are putting your lower back and knees at risk. Some will disagree with my opinion on how deep you should go. I feel it really depends on your overall goal. As a runner I feel a half squat provides all the benefits I need for my sport. A bodybuilder will want the full range of motion of a deep squat (ass to the grass). As we age we definitely want to protect our joints and lighten the weight a bit.
- Crunches: I love this exercise and use it daily. While performing this exercise many people will place their hands behind their head and as they tire will begin to pull with their hands. This puts a lot of pressure on the neck muscles and can result in injury. According to Lee Labrada, former Mr. Olympia and owner of Labrada Nutrition, your back should cover no more than 6″- 8″ and should be like you are trying to touch your chest to your pelvis. Each rep should be be done slowly with an exhale as you are coming up. This creates constant tension on the abs so you can get the maximum benefit. This exercise combined with others addressing the entire core will produce excellent results.
- Lunges: This is another great exercise that produces excellent results if performed properly. If not done properly it can result in hip, knee or lower back injury. For example, if the knee extends over the toe or you bend too far forward or if you perform the exercise too quickly you risk injury. The best way to perform this exercise is to first learn the proper form then perform it slowly. You’ll get the best results by going slowly and focusing on the muscles being targeted.
- Upright Rows: This is an exercise I really don’t like but many people get a great benefit from it when combined with other exercises. The recommended way to perform this exercise is to use the grip of your choice (close or a wider grip) then bring the bar up to nipple level. Some people will bring the bar up to chin level but according to some experts, this has been shown to risk shoulder impingement which is very painful and takes a long time to heal.
- Jump Squat: Unless you have been exercising for quite a while, this is an exercise you may want to avoid as the risk of injury is high if not done properly. Landing even a bit off center can result in injury.
That’s A Wrap: This caution regarding form can and does apply to ALL exercises performed in the gym. Take the time to learn how to properly perform each movement. Check with the fitness center staff or if working out at home you might check out Youtube for instruction. To get the most out of your workout develop a positive mindset and stay focused on the task at hand. Stay safe and enjoy each rep!!!!!