Leg Extensions

You’ve already spent most of the day in a seated position.  The last thing you need to do is train your legs from that same position.   As someone who spends any amount of time sitting, you have to be sure that your workout routines are well-balanced,  providing exercises that focus more on quality movement patterns and less on specific muscle groups.  Truth is leg extensions may be doing more harm than help.   Passive structures in the knee (ligaments) are stressed more in open chain exercises like the leg extension which can lead to future knee pain and range of motion problems.  During the knee extension, several stabilizing muscles are taken out of the movement creating an imbalance of work done by primary movers and synergistic stabilizers.   In other words, this is an injury waiting to happen.

Alternatives

  • Dynamic Lunges
  • Step-Ups
  • Front Squats

Military Pressing

Few people, not excluding high level athletes, possess optimal shoulder build to be able to do this exercise “safely”.  I put safely in quotes because you may not suffer an acute injury from shoulder presses, but chances are that down the road you may develop some sort of impingement.  Understand this is not a matter of poor training or weak musculature.  It is simply a matter of how you are built.  This is not to say that Military Presses can’t have their place in a well-planned out exercise program.  Let’s face it; the average computer guy geek has sub-optimal posture in the first place.  The last thing you want to try and do is to press heavy weights over your head.  The outcome could be very dangerous.  For our purposes in the gym, I believe much safer exercises can be used to create even better results without this risk.

Alternatives

  • Push-Ups (there are a large variety)

Sit-Ups

Everybody’s favorite exercise.  If not for great looking abs then surely they are good for “core” strength and your lower back, right?  The truth is, when you perform a Sit-Up you are using very little abdominal strength and a whole lot of hip flexor strength.  Contracting these hip flexors and flexing forward can create excessive amounts of compression on your lower spine.  For anyone who sits for any length of time during the day this is not an ideal situation.  Most computer jockeys need more abdominal strength, but there are much safer and more effective ways to go about getting it.

Alternatives

  • Planks and Side Planks
  • Wood Chops

Bench Press

Another favorite exercise to most average gym goers.  But you are a trapped-at-your-desk geek, not the “average” person.  One of the last things we as geeks want to do is reinforce our tendency to be slumped with our shoulders rolled forward.  After all this is the position most of us are in the majority of the day if we spend any time at a computer.  Unfortunately, our friend the bench press is only going to do more hurt than help when it comes to this negative posture.  Don’t worry though, like the others there are plenty of alternate exercises that can be used to get the same and most likely better results.  Most of these alternates allow our shoulder blades to move freely throughout the exercise, which actually reinforces a more desired posture.

Alternatives

  • Push-Ups
  • Cable presses (unilateral or bilateral)

Upright Rows

When it comes to the upright row I struggle to find a reason why anyone would need this movement.  If this is in your routine, I suggest you take a moment to re-evaluate what your goals are in the gym.  Keeping your forearms internally rotated while you abduct your upper arms is a recipe for impingement.

Alternatives

  • Barbell Rows
  • Dumbbell Rows
  • Face Pulls
  • Cable Row Variations

Conclusion

When designing yourself an exercise program, it is important to create goals and choose exercises based on their potential benefits as well as risks.  As geeks we have to be mindful of our posture and the implications it will have on our workouts.  It may not be a glamorous approach but in the long run, it will be the most effective approach regardless of what your goals may be.  Remember, if you get injured working out it won’t matter what those goals are because you won’t be able to work out at all.

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