ExerciseNoNo will continually remind, nag, prod and poke fun at many of the incorrect, the ill-advised, the highly questionable, the contraindicated, the just plain dumb things that people do at the gym.
By Cary Raffle MS Exercise Science & Health Promotion, Certified Personal Trainer,
Certified Orthopedic Exercise Specialist in New York City's Financial District
One Size FIts All Exercise NO NO
Most people wouldn't wear a new suit or gown without having it tailored to fit them properly, so why would you jump into a one size fits all exercise program? Ill-fitting clothing looks bad, an ill-fitting exercise program will not achieve your goals and may lead to injury. Whether it is yoga, exercise dvds, advertised program you order, exercise programs and especially the latest fads such as kettlebells, crossfit and suspension training the questions to ask are: 1) What are my goals; 2) What is my current physical condition - including medical history, injuries, posture and movement impairment; and most importantly 3) Which exercise are right for ME. See your doctor and a qualified fitness professional before beginning any new program and get a personalized recommendation to ensure proper exercise selection and form. For some hints on self-assessment, visit assessment.caryraffle.com
Train First Trainer Second NO NO
DON'T PUT OFF SEEING A TRAINER UNTIL YOU'VE BEEN TRAINING FOR A WHILE
Most injuries happen within the first few months of beginning an exercise program. In fact, about half of all new gym members end up suffering some sort of injury that prevents them from continuing. See a trainer first for an assessment and recommendation on your program, and advise on proper exercise form. This can help reduce the risk of injury and ensure that your program produces the maximum results from the start.
Machines Reduce Injury Risk NO NO!
MACHINES DO NOT NECESSARILY REDUCE THE RISK OF INJURY!!!
It is a popular myth that you are less prone to injury using machines than you are with free weights. This is somewhat, sometimes true...but in many cases machines can actually increase the risk of injury and/or make recovery more difficult. Why? Machines force the body to move in a fixed path of motion. This one factor helps muscles stabilize, but at the same time can force the body to move in a way that is not entirely natural - which can place stress on joints and tendons. As with any movement done repeatedly, you can set up a repetive motion injury. Free weights, cables and tubes can give you a less restrictive path of motion. If you're rehabbing, ask your doctor or physical therapist if machines or free weights are right for you.
RUN BEFORE YOU WALK NO NO!
DON'T START AN EXERCISE PROGRAM AT A LEVEL THAT IS TOO ADVANCED! If you want to run, consider walking and cycling first. Both will build your aerobic base without the impact and stress of running, you can gradually incorporate running in and increase the amount. Slowly build your aerobic base, if you're monitoring heart rate stay at 65%-70% of your maximum heart rate* while increasing and let your body learn to work harder without increasing heart rate. (Easy wasy to estimate your maximum heart rate is 220-age).
SIT TOO MUCH GROW YOUR BUTT NO NO! Stop sitting if you want a firm, toned butt, thighs and hips. I see women lining up at the adductor and adductor machines every day in hopes of shaping and toning. There are more problems with this approach than you can image. Most importantly, that after sitting all day - and literally stretching your glutes and spreading your hips - why do a seated exercise? Try lunges in several directions, squats, abduction standing or lying on your side instead.
NO Certification? NO TRAINING!!! DON'T HESITATE TO ASK A TRAINER TO SEE A COPY OF THEIR CERTIFICATION(S) BEFORE HIRING THEM AND MAKE SURE THE CERTIFICATION(S) ARE NOT EXPIREDIt is shocking how many trainers claim to have all sorts of certifications and education by organizations with every imaginable acronym, but are actually certified by NADA. And shocked by the clients who are so charmed that they just believe them. It is reasonable to ask to see copies, or to find out what organization they are certified by and verify it online. Make sure the certification is current, not expired: Personal Training Certifications require that the trainer earns continuing education credits and recertifies every 2 years. Don't take chances with your health. I've listed the links for some of the top certifying bodies below (you can verify me at NASM). Check out WHO they are certified by. There has been a positive change in recent years: The best certifying bodies are now themselves ACCREDITED by the NCCA, the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. Individual Gyms themselves, no matter how large, are NOT accredited certifying bodies. Of course a degree in Exercise Science, Physiology or the like from an accredited College or University trumps a certification any day. If someone is quoting you a bargain basement price for training, chances are they don't have the certification or education. (I make one exception here, that you will often find a new trainer who is very diligent and working towards getting their certification and education - as I was several years ago. This might be someone worth making a commitment to, but you deserve to know so that you can decide). NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) ACE (American Council on Exercise) ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association)
CHAIN BEHIND NECK DIP BAR NO-NO I recently saw three gym members doing dips with a heavy chain behind the neck. I warned them that this exercise was very risky and could result in damage to the disks in the cervical spine (neck). About two weeks later one of them came to me and offered a big "YOU TOLD ME SO." He had developed a bulging disk that was impinging on a nerve, had significant pain and loss of strength.
Banged up shins box jumps NO NO Banged up, bloody and/or bandaged shins is no crossfit merit badge. It really means that you're jumping too high before mastering the technique and easier jumps. Workout smarter, get coaching and plenty of practice. You can break a leg doing or fall on your head doing box jumps.
No Schedule No Workout NO NO
SCHEDULE YOUR WORKOUT APPOINTMENTS JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER IMPORTANT APPOINTMENT
Whether you're joining a gym, running in the park, or walking at the mall, nothing is going to happen if you don't actually get your workouts in. Put it right into your calendar! It may help to attend regularly scheduled classes, meet a friend, or have an appointment with a trainer. I've had many clients who wouldn't make it at all without their training appointment, or who would cancel because they weren't in the mood if not for the 24-hour cancellation fee.
Fast Weight Loss Yo-Yo NO NO
DON'T TRY TO LOSE WEIGHT TOO QUICKLY
For safe and lasting weight loss, plan on losing between 1-2 pounds per week. Faster weight loss may be unhealthy and you run the risk of yo-yoing, experiencing rapid drops and quickly gaining. Instead of fad diets, make long-term lifestyle changes. Maintain a calorie deficit of about 500 - 1000 per day, you can eat less or workout more or do both. Remember that as you lose weight, your calorie needs also drops. However, if you are beginning an exercise program, make sure that you don't reduce the calorie intake so much that you don't have energy to work out.
All Cardio No Strength Training for the Legs NO! NO!
Sprinting/interval training aside, running is very good at burning calories and very minutely building smaller Type I muscles, but no actual strength or size gains will be seen after the initial acclimation period. - John Wilbert, Physical Therapist www.recoverypt.com
LESS THAN FULL RANGE OF MOTION NO! NO!
DON'T LIFT WITH SO MUCH WEIGHT THAT YOU CAN'T USE FULL RANGE of MOTION.
Most people should be working most of their muscles in the full range of motion most of the time so that the whole muscle gets trained. There are some program adaptations that use less than full ROM, but these are specialized or advanced and should not the mainstay of your workouts.
WEIGHT LOSS =DEHYDRATION NO NO
Weight loss from exercise, especially during the summer, can be a sign of dehydration. Every pound you lose working out, a sign that you've lost about a pint of water. Replace lost fluids to return to your pre workout weight, to avoid fatigue, cramping and potentially health threatening side effects.
FORGET THE WATER NO NO
Those ACSM Doctors say bring your water bottle along and: Drink about 1-2 cups of fluid 30 minutes pre exercise, drink ½ - 1 cup of fluid for every 15 minutes of exercise, drink 2 ½ cups for every pound lost during exercise. Drink even after your thirst is quenched.
UNNECESSARY SUPPLEMENT NO NOs Protein: According to the doctors at the American College of Sports Medicine, a 170 pound man needs about 131 grams of protein per day to increase muscle mass (1.7g/kg body weight) and about 100 grams to support endurance (1.3g/kg). If you're already getting that much in your diet, skip the supplement. More is not better! Sports Drinks: Research shows that Gatorade-like drinks are effective when you're exercising or playing a sport for more than an hour, or if you like the taste and won't get enough fluids otherwise. Water is just as good if you're planning a 59 minute workout. Creatine: Is one of the few supplements that has a long standing body of research, dating back almost 100 years. It shows no effect in aerobic performance, some short term gain in muscle size -believed by many to be increased water retention, and marginal improvement in strength or anaerobic performance. Weight Loss & Energy Supplements: Most of these contain caffeine or guarana. Guarana contains about 3x the caffeine as coffee, and when it is included as an ingredient instead of caffeine, the manufacturer doesn't have to tell you how much caffeine is in the drink. Caffeine will help you lose weight, it raises your heart rate and is proven to increase fat metabolism, but would you have 3-4 cups of coffee? Taurine, also popular, has very little human research, which brings us to... Other Supplements: Supplement makers can claim whatever they want. The government does not test nutritional supplements for effectiveness, safety, consistency, purity, or interaction with other drugs or conditions. Think about how often you hear about a drug that was FD A tested, or a supplement, that is later found to have harmed people. Do you really want to take that risk with your health?
Abdominal Exercises with an Extended Spine NO NO!!! THE MAIN ACTION OF ABDOMINAL MUSCLES IS SPINAL FLEXION, DO NOT WORK THEM WITH AN EXTENDED SPINE. But you can end up hurting yourself badly. This message is going out to the 2 guys who I saw yesterday on a stretching table...One had his legs on the table under the weight of his friend, his body suspended while he did oblique twists and crunches. So his spine is extended, in other words there is an arch in his back, and it is supporting the fullw eight of his upper body because his legs are locked under the weight of his friend. One wrong move....the consequences could range from a few days of back pain to disk damage to paralysis. And it isn't even all that effective as an exercise. Someone looking to up the abdominal challenge might accomplish the same thing more safely suspended from a pullup bar with abdominal slings.
The Kicking Legs Snapping Back Momentum Weight Release NO NO! When releasing dumbells from bench press... DON'T USE MOMENTUM FROM RAISING YOUR LEGS TO ROCK YOUR UPPER BODY AND WEIGHTS INTO SITTING POSITION!!! You generally want to avoid momentum when handling weights...This particular contraindicated movement puts the spine, disks, and muscles of the lower back at tremendous risk of injury even without weights, and any muscles involved in this maneuver or in supporting the weights are at risk. Please carefully put the weights down.
SKIPPING MEALS - ESPECIALLY BREAKFAST NO NO
Breakfast kick starts your metabolism and gives you the energy you need to exercise. If you're looking to lose weight, numerous studies have proven that people who eat breakfast are more successful at long term weight loss than those who don't. You'll have more effective workouts when your body had the fuel.
WORKING THE SAME MUSCLES 2 DAYS IN A ROW NO NO
Strength training damages your muscle fibers. Muscles recover, repair and actually grow during the 48 hours after your work them. You won't see progress and you increase the risk of injury if you don't allow the rest. Split routines, working different muscles on alternating days, can be a good alternative if you want to lift weights every day. This applies only to strength training, you can do cardio every day.
KISS YOUR ROTATOR CUFF GOODBYE NO NO NO
NO BEHIND NECK PULLDOWNS!
NO BEHIND NECK SHOULDER PRESSES!
NO UPRIGHT ROWS (FRONT ROWS)!
These exercises are obsolete - they have been shown to cause injury or impingement of the rotator cuff muscles over time. In addition, they provide no meaningful advantage to other exercises.
DON'T ARCH YOUR BACK!
An arched back causes pressure on the spinal column, it can lead to damaged disks and vertebrae. Lower the weight, use a machine with back support, and strengthen your abdominal core if you find yourself arching. Be especially careful about this when doing any overhead exercises, the leverage of the weight increases the likelihood of injury.
On Toes NO NO
DON'T RISE ONTO YOUR TOES WHILE DOING SEATED MACHINE EXERCISES.
This can cause your lower back to arch and cause pain, injury, and damage to the back and disks. Instead, plant your feet and heels firmly, or cross your legs if you can’t touch the floor. Be sure that you pull your abdominal core.
NECK BREAKING CRUNCHES NO NO
DON'T HOLD A HEAVY WEIGHT ON YOUR FOREHEAD WHILE DOING CRUNCHES!
I recently advised a gym member to stop doing these due to potential damage to the tendons, nerves and disks in the cervical spine.
NO WARM UP NO NO
Spend about 5-10 minutes warming up with some cardio. Your muscles are less likely to get injured when they are warm, and the warmup causes enzymes to be released that help protect the muscles and make your workout more effective.
LONG “CARDIO” SESSIONS BEFORE STRENGTH TRAINING NO NO
You'll get more out of your strength training if you have the energy to dedicate to the workout, and save the cardio for later or another day. If you've just run 5 or 10 miles, you're ready to eat, not to workout! (This one is dedicated to one of my highly conditioned clients who ran a quick 8 miles before a strength training session... and took an early leave to get a yogurt).
SHOULDER PROBLEMS NO NOs
Avoid Overhead Exercises, Incline Chest Press (and possibly any chest press), Front Raises, Shrugs, Preacher Curls, Behind the Neck Triceps Extension. These exercises put you at risk of further injury and pain. Have a detailed conversation with your doctor and/or physical therapist about contraindicated exercises, and consider consulting a personal trainer with post-rehab experience to design a safe and effective program.
EXERCISE THAT HURTS NO NO
If something hurts severely, or hurts for more than a week, its time to see a doctor. Don't assume that you can lower the weight and not do any further damage, sometimes it is the movement itself that is the problem. Get a diagnosis so that you now what you are dealing with.
SMOKING? No No NO NO
TRYING TO QUIT? KEEP AT LEAST A ONE HOUR SMOKE FREE ZONE BEFORE AND AFTER WORKING OUT.No judgment here, it is hard to quit. But smoking deprives your muscles of oxygen and raises your blood pressure.DON'T do it immediately before or after working out.
THE DODO BIRD NO NO: Deep Knee Bends NO SQUATS BEYOND 90 DEGREES AT THE KNEE! They called these "deep knee bends" in my father's days. This exercise has been considered obsolete and absolutely contraindicated for 40 or 50 years. I thought it went the way of the Dodo Bird, so I didn't include it on the original list. But every once in a while you see someone or visit a website that still hasn't gotten the message, they bring it back from extinction and risk severe damage to the knee cartilage. DON'T DO IT!
NO WEIGHT BEHIND YOUR HEAD WHEN DOING BACK EXTENSIONS! I spoke with a man who was holding a 35 lb plate behind his head while bending over in a Roman Chair. The spine is made to support the head, not the head plus 35 lbs. The potential for major and minor injury is literally endless from doing this move. Whiplash, nerve impingement, disk damage, reduced blood flow to brain to name a few. If you must do back extensions with weight, hold the weight at chest level. (The back extension exercise is questionable to begin with for most people, given the prevalence of tight lower back muscles from sitting all day long, but that's another story) .
PREGNANCY EXERCISE - YES YES AND NO NO Yes, exercise is great when you’re pregnant, especially squats. Be careful not to overstretch your muscles especially using cables. Your ligaments become lax due to hormones and you could overstretch them and cause long term damage. Don't overdo the cardio, you should be able to pass the "talk test" - if you are working so hard that you can't talk, slow down!
CARY IS A PERSONAL TRAINER & AUTHOR OF EXERCISE NO NO, BASED IN FiDi NYC