If you’re a beginner and have a New Year’s resolution to get in shape this year, you’re probably hitting the gym or doing a workout DVD. And chances are, you’re probably trying a whole lot of new moves. Rock on! With the popularity of CrossFit, HIIT and boot camps, workouts have never been so varied, functional and challenging. That said, if you’re a newbie (Hi! We love newbies, especially during New Year New Rear Week!), it’s best to ease into some of the more advanced moves. Which is why we’re sharing these five exercises avoid from Dan Geraci, head strength coach at Hard Pressed.
And, hey, he’s even included alternatives to help you work those same muscles, but in a safer way!
Five Exercises to Avoid If You’re a Workout Newbie
1. Box jumps. A compound movement that works the musculature of the hip and knee joints, this method also places excessive pressure on the Achilles tendon which can lead to a rupture or tear. Missing the box with an uncoordinated misstep can result in a twisted ankle or scraped shins while the repeated jumps on a hard surface can cause knee pain.
Alternative: The leg press works these same muscle groups but can create stronger muscles without the negative impact of box jumps. “The leg press targets the muscles around these joints as well,” says Geraci. “This produces more explosive and higher jumps, often the reason many turn to box jumps in the first place.”
2. Dumbbell chest fly. Without a spotter or when using heavier weights, dumbbells can be difficult to control properly, which can potentially lead to catastrophic muscle tears. Furthermore, most individuals use a shortened range of motion (ROM) for chest flys, which misses the mark for the most effective portion of the exercise.
Alternative: Machine Chest Fly and cables can be much more effective and safe as these alternatives place you in the proper positioning to utilize a full ROM without leaving your muscles and joints vulnerable to free weight errors.
3. Walking lunges. Improper form is the main problem with walking lunges as the majority of people perform them incorrectly. “Bad form leads to increased stress on the knee and places it in a vulnerable position,” says Geraci. “Putting excessive force on structural components of the knee such as the patella tendon and the meniscus can lead to injury.”
Alternative: Doing stationary lunges (and having a spotter) will keep the knee in the proper position and allow you to maintain proper form while reaping all the benefits of lunges.
4. Upright rows. This exercise puts the rotator cuff muscles in an extremely pinched space (referred to as the sub-acromial space). In many individuals the acromion muscle is hooked or slightly hooked, which leads to increased impingement.
Alternative: To work your traps in a similar method, use the Shrug and Pull technique. This allows you to target the same muscles while moving the joint in a much more natural way, thus decreasing the chance of injury.
5. BOSU/stability balls. The extremely unstable platform these balls provide can lead to a myriad of injuries. They put you in a vulnerable state while performing movements that often times lead to injury when in completely stable environments.
Alternative: Perform the exercises in a stable environment rather than on the ball. You will better target the primary muscles (i.e. chest for chest press) while not leaving your joints, muscles and tendons susceptible to injury. Then, exercise your core muscles and abdominals separately. “Working your chest with a chest press movement on a stability ball is a poor attempt at a two-for-one type of deal,” says Geraci. “While killing two birds with one stone sounds good in theory, if it leads to injury you are worse off than when you started.”
And our best advice? Listen to your body! If a move doesn’t feel right or you have any sharp pain, try something a little more gentle. Once you get your base level of fitness, you can always try the harder stuff, so don’t get discouraged! —Jenn