Are There Really No Bad Exercises?
There are a lot of great exercises. There's also a lot of bad exercises. One of the silliest things in the fitness and health industry is that “there are no bad exercises”. You may hear many argue that “there are no bad exercises, only bad execution”. They do have one point. Any exercise done with improper form could be considered a bad exercise and does put you at a greater risk of injury and frankly is a waste of your time. This being said there actually are some terrible exercises, think behind the neck pull down, bench dips, upright rows, burpees and any exercise done on a smith machine. It’s a rather uneducated standpoint; No exercise is bad. Optimal exercises exist. Everyone is busy and can't spend 5 hours in the gym to activate muscles when only 45 minutes to 1.5 hours will get you great results.
Exercise selection is an often under discussed topic but it can be the reason why you aren't seeing the best results in the gym. For example if you are trying to grow your chest and you believe that a wide grip bench press will get you there it most likely will not. Yes, you can grow a large chest by pushing large weights on the bench press. There are better exercises such as dumbbells or cable narrow presses. This is important because down the line these “common” exercises don't yield the results people are looking for which causes them to become very discouraged.
An easy way to approach selecting the most effective exercises without going into a full anatomy and physiology class is focusing on factors that are easy to spot
Exercise Selection Checkboxes
You feel great tension and pumps in the target muscle after completing the exercise. Don’t know what a pump is? Simply stated a muscle pump occurs when fluids, including blood and water, accumulate in your muscle during movement. This happens in response to two primary triggers: Lactic acid build up in the working muscles drawing water into them and the heart pumping more blood to the working muscles to supply them with more oxygen and nutrients to power them.
Disruption of the muscle fibers leads to fatigue (not systemic fatigue that you can't hold a pencil or walk the next day)
Causes less stress to your joints, ligaments and tendons compared to other movements
This being said make sure to take a look at your current gym routine and take out the exercises that:
You have no longer seen strength gains for 3-4 weeks possibly months
No longer offers you the same pumps or disruption spoken of above
Over a period of time it's getting tough on your joints and ligaments
The main part of all of this is to select exercises that fit your goal. These common looked over factors really do play a massive role in your overall physique and progress in the gym. Make sure to look at your overall fitness goals and plan out the exercises that benefit those areas. Most of the time there’s a trial and error phase until you find exercises that work amazing for you and your body. I personally recommend picking 1-2 exercises for each muscle group and seeing how you progress on a week to week basis.
If this was helpful in any way and you want to talk more about the exercises in your workout routine DM or drop a comment below. Still not sure where to start? Book a consultation with one of our coaches to get a program custom made to help you reach your specific fitness goals.
-Ryan and Stephanie