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Lift Smart

Weight training is in general, used to promote gains in strength, muscle size, power, as well as prevent injury by strengthening joints, and in some cases recovery with relation to injury. Exercise prescription is sometimes however, commonly based around ego and movements totally unrelated to the specificity or functionality of a determined goal. So what considerations should be made when designing an exercise program, and exercise prescription? Evaluate:

  • Is the exercise safe?
  • Is the exercise functional?
  • Will it benefit me and my specific goals?
  • Is there a safer or better choice?

5 Potentially Dangerous Exercises

Below are 5 potentially dangerous exercises one may want to consider before incorporating them into a program or continuing to use them in a pre existing workout routine.

  • Stiff legged deadlifts - Stiff legged deadlifts place an isolated, shearing force across the lower back. This is not only detrimental to the lower back, but also puts the entire spine at high risk of injury. It is very important that knees are bent during all deadlift movements and the weight is lifted through the back of the heels. Alternative exercises: Normal deadlifts, Bulgarian deadlifts, ½ Deadlifts, which involves coming just past the knees on the eccentric phase.

  • Wide grip lat pull-down behind the neck. A totally dysfunctional movement that is not required in daily life. This places the shoulder in a retracted position which causes stress across the shoulder joint and cervical spine. Quite often muscles of the abdomen will be activated to assist pulling heavy loads which then places the spine in a hunched, kyphotic position. Activation of the upper trapezius may also initiate neck pain and cause poke neck. Alternative exercises: Lat pull-down to the front of the body (close and wide grip).
  • Shoulder press behind the neck. The beginning position alone of this exercise places the shoulder in dislocation position. During the execution of the lift, the range of movement followed encourages impingement of the rotator cuff tendons. Like the lat pull-down exercise behind the neck, this exercise also encourages activation of the upper traps which can lead to neck pain and poke neck. Alternative exercises: Shoulders are most effectively trained during lifts such as bench press, lat pull-downs, seated rows, chin-ups and dips.
  • Shrugs. A dysfunctional movement not used in everyday life. This exercise activates the upper trapezius under heavy loads. The trapezius originate on the cervical spine, when shrugs are performed, this causes excess tension on the neck. Alternative exercises: deadlifts, shoulder press (front of body).
  • Pec deck. The pec deck is an isolated chest exercise. The shoulder joint is forced into the dislocation position, and possibly it’s least stabilized position. Functionally, the external rotation of the arms during the exercise puts the insertion point of the pec major in an ineffective position decreasing the potential to maximise force around the shoulder joint and as a consequence hindering results. Alternative exercises: Chest fly machine, dumbbell fly, and bench press.
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