Whether you’re a hardcore gym rat or an office worker trying to get into shape for the first time, it’s all too easy to pick the wrong exercises or to get into the habit of doing the right exercises the wrong way, leading to injury. In order to keep yourself uninjured and focused on your workout goals, you should stay away from certain popular exercises, and learn how to do others safely.
Some people have favorite exercises, which they pursue all the time. Sometimes, it’s just because they think that the exercise is a lot of fun. Other times it’s because they have become fixated on maxing out a certain muscle group. This leads to overuse, though. You should always vary your workout. Repeating the same moves frequently leads to repetitive-use injuries, including tendinitis and shin splints. Work different muscle groups on different days. Train strength on some days and cardio on others.
Kipping pull-ups use a hip snap and leg swing to give an extra push up and help get the chin over the bar. They are popular among both hardcore strength trainers and beginners. This is because they don’t require as much arm strength as traditional dead hang pull-ups. Hardcore strength people like them because it means they can squeeze a few extra pull-ups into every set. Beginners like them because they may not have developed sufficient arm strength to do dead hang pull-ups. Both of them are making a mistake. This style puts a sudden, whipping stress on the body that can easily tear muscles and tendons. Squeezing a few extra reps out of each set is not worth risking being sidelined for months with a serious tendon injury.
Ab machines look impressive, and are a favorite tool for trying to develop well defined abs. The trouble is, they don’t really work, and they increase the risk of injury as well. They involve a lot of twisting, and contorting, and those moves are always at high risk of causing injury. Even worse, though, is the fact that they isolate the muscles. Isolation leads to differential development and muscle imbalance, and this leads to serious injury. People who use ab machines are usually operating under the mistaken impression that they can reduce stomach fat by targeting stomach muscles. Unfortunately, biology doesn’t work that way. Spot reduction is impossible.
The leg press is one of the most popular exercise machines, and it can indeed be beneficial. However, it does have some serious problems when used incorrectly. The leg press is supposed to reduce the pressure that the extension puts on your back. It is too easy to position yourself improperly on the machine, especially while moving, and this leads to a lot of injuries. You can get the same results with less risk by doing squats instead.
HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training, is an excellent way to build stamina and overall fitness. There is nothing wrong with the exercise in and of itself. It can work wonders. However, a lot of first timers dive in head first and end up injuring themselves. If you are just starting to get in shape, do not go all out with the sprinting at first. Start by switching between a slow jog and a fast jog, and slowly turn up the speed until you find your level.
It is always better to play things a little safe, and take it easy on any new exercise until you know what you are doing with it. Taking a little time up front to be careful can save you from being forced to take a lot of time off further down the road, when an injury that you could easily have avoided keeps you from exercising at all.