Don’t Tell Me What to Do


You’ve joined a gym.  It might have been just two weeks ago (or even two years ago), but you believe you have the best routine around.   Why?  Because you’ve looked at all the buff beautiful people and you’re doing their routine.  Here’s the danger in that.

The American College of Sports Medicine always puts out position papers where they give recommendations based on their research.  Often they are talking about exercises which might not be good for ALL people.  They call these “contraindicated”.  It means that when doing these exercises any risk of injury far outweighs the benefit you could see.   Does it mean you can never use these exercises for people?  No, the knowledge is a red flag for trainers so they will think twice before assigning exercises to a client.

For an example let’s look at exercises for the shoulders.  A popular one is the upright row.  When I started lifting weights this exercise was performed with a barbel.  Placing your hands close together you pulled the bar up to your chin.  Your elbows stuck out like chicken wings.

Another exercise is the behind the neck press.  Holding the barbel again you do just that.  Lower the barbel to your shoulders — behind the head — and from that position push to hold it over your head.  Doing this combination is how I believe I tore my shoulders up.

Do I believe you should never absolutely EVER do these exercises?  No, I think they are fine for some people.  I also believe we can modify the lift to still work the muscles but not risk the joint.  The sketch seen here is the way I learned rows and how some people still do them.  The photo is what I ask my people to do.  We never to all the way up and leave our hands aligned with the shoulder rather than close together.

The ACSM has more exercises recommendations and the best trainers follow those guidelines.   Their insurance carriers are happier that way.  Now, that said I want to remind you to listen when a professional trainer takes the time to explain something about your form or technique.  It is in your best interest to do the exercises for the benefits.

For this reason it is important to make sure the exercises you are doing are the best for you.  Watching other people in the gym can be dangerous for your health.  You might see someone doing these or any other exercises and think, “well, that will be good for my butt.”  What you might not realize is there is something about your body and that exercise that don’t mix.  That’s what a trainer does for you.

If you don’t have a personal trainer you see from time to time — find one!  Today!  Then as you see people exercising in the gym ask your guy or gal if it is something you can do.

Be Well!

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