Five Workouts That Do More Harm Than Good

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We're at the start of a New Year, and for a lot of people, that will represent a chance to get back in shape. Hitting the gym is a common New Year's resolution, and even if going to the gym isn't possible where you are at the moment because of restrictions, many of us are doing our best to work on our fitness at home. That's not so much of a problem if you're an experienced fitness enthusiast and you know how to look after your own body, but it might be an issue for those of you who are new to all this and are looking for 'high impact' workout options on the internet. 

Not all exercises are good for your body, and not all workouts help. In fact, there are some that do a lot more harm than good. Knowing the difference between a good workout and a bad workout is essential if you're going to end up in better shape than you were when you started. If that doesn't happen, you're wasting your own time and defeating the whole point! Even a few of the fitness enthusiasts among you might have picked up a few bad workout habits over the years, as is evidenced by the fact that home gym injuries are becoming increasingly more common. For that reason, we encourage you to read this article no matter your level of experience. 

Even some of the most common and popular workout regimes can have negative consequences, and so we’ve picked five of the most popular and outlined them here so you can cut them out of your schedule.

Rebound Box Jumps

This is a favorite of circuit trainers everywhere, and most circuit trainers have hurt themselves performing them more than once. We're told that box jumps are great for improving reaction time and co-ordination - which is true - but rebound box jumps are a different beast. No matter how well co-ordinated you might be, there's no way of preparing your body for the sudden shock of the jump down. Your Achilles tendon isn't designed to cope with that amount of loading, and eventually, it will blow out. This might happen the first time you try rebound box jumps, or it might happen on the one-hundredth time, but it will happen eventually. The best way to avoid that risk is to avoid this exercise entirely. Consider trying step down box jumps instead. You get all the benefits with far fewer risks. 

Ab Machines

There are only a few ways to get strong, clearly-defined abs, and none of them involve machines. All of them involve hard work and repetition instead. Working on your abs is like playing online slots and can be just as frustrating. What we mean by that that when you're logged into an online slots website and spinning the reels, it can feel like nothing's happening for a very long time. You keep spending money, you keep spinning, and you see no reward. The same will be true of most ab exercises. A lot of players step away from their UK casino without ever knowing how close they were to a big win, and a lot of fitness enthusiasts ditch traditional ab exercises in favor of machines for the same reason. Please don't do it. It's impossible to spot-burn fat, and the devices have been known to lead to poor posture or unbalanced abdominal muscles. That's not an outcome you want for yourself. 

Ballistic Stretching

Ballistic stretching only exists because someone took a look at dynamic stretching and thought, "that doesn't go far enough; I want to take it to the next level." That was a step that didn't need to be taken. The idea that you can improve the effectiveness of a dynamic stretch by adding a few bounces has no grounding in science and is an open invitation to tearing muscles completely. Dynamic stretching already stretches your muscles as far as it's safe to do so. Ballistic stretches cross the line. The bigger your muscles are, the bigger the risk of seriously injuring them through ballistic stretching. Stick to dynamic stretches instead. 

Overhead Squats

Conventional squats are a great exercise choice because they represent a full-body workout. Overhead squats are less good because you're concentrating the full effect of the movement into a single area of your body, and that's how you overload your muscles. You might be able to get away with 'irregular' squats when you're at the 'advanced training' level, and you have significant muscle mass everywhere, but until you reach that point, it's advisable to stay away from them. If you're concerned with safety, you should probably avoid them altogether no matter how fit you are. Remember the basic principle of all lifting and squatting, which is that lifting and throwing weights behind your back is a really dumb idea.

Kipping Pull-Ups

This is a favorite of the CrossFit community, but recently it’s started to appear outside of that community and become part of regular workouts. We’re not here to debate the relative benefits of CrossFit because there are plenty of forums on the internet for that already, but we’re not convinced that the risk to reward ratio of this move makes it worthwhile. It’s a high-precision exercise that even experts sometimes struggle to execute correctly. A relative newcomer has no chance. The core problem is the way your body whips on the bar, which places undue stress on your muscles - especially your tendons. There’s nothing that can be achieved with a kipping pull-up that can’t be achieved with a hanging pull-up other than the fact that kipping pull-ups look cooler. Your friends at the gym might be impressed, but your doctor probably won’t be. 

There's a reason that the "old favorite" exercises are "old favorites" - it's because they work, and they can be relied upon to help you get the body and fitness level you're looking for. Beware of fads, be suspicious of new exercise ideas, and double-check everything you're considering doing against qualified medical advice. Exercise is good for you, but only if you choose and stick to the right exercises! 

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