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Leg Press

All you have to do is load it up, strap yourself in (not really) and push as hard as you can.  I’ll admit, it can be pretty satisfying to see that much weight move because of your own strength and will.  Unfortunately, the leg press is not without its flaws.

First of all, it can give you a false sense of real strength.  When you leg press, you’re in a sitting or lying position with little help from your core musculature.  Anytime you train that heavy without the core being involved the strength tends not to translate well to real life situations, and can result in injury.  Don’t plan on helping anyone jump start their car with your newfound strength.  

Second, you’ve been sitting down all day with your hips flexed and your pelvis in a posteriorly tilted position.  This has already put enough stress and compression on your lower spine.  When you perform the leg press you’re essentially in this same position, only with hundreds of pounds of pressure forcing you into even more compression.  Not smart.

Alternatives

  • Lunges
  • Front Squats
  • Split Squats
  • Step Ups

Shrugs

Another exercise from the world of body building that doesn’t belong in the routine of the common desk jockey.  Because of your forward dominant work posture and stress, your body will not respond to this exercise the same way an elite athlete would.  It’s not impossible for you to perform the exercise appropriately, but there is such a narrow margin for error and the cost-to-benefit ratio just does not do you any justice.  When consistently done wrong, over time, you can expect to experience some form of neck pain or even headaches. 

Alternatives

  • Face Pulls
  • Barbell Rows
  • Cable Row Variations

 

Loaded Back Extensions

There is a common misconception that in order to have a healthy low back we need to have a strong low back.  It’s true that we want to have stability around the core as a whole, but when it comes to back health, our ability to move heavy weight through extension may do us more harm than good.  It’s much more important for us to get our moving strength from our glutes and our stabilizing strength from our core.  Try to stay far away from any machine that directly trains your low back extensors.  Any exercise in general that trains you to hyperextend should be avoided.  If low back health is at all a concern of yours, definitely learn and use the alternative exercises I’ve listed here below.

Alternatives

  • Planks
  • Side Planks
  • Bird Dogs
  • Glute Bridges
  • Dead Lifts

 

Loaded AB Machine

In my previous “things you should NOT do” article, I pulled apart sit-ups.  So it should not be a surprise to you that I would have the same to say about any loaded abdominal device.  It’s essentially the same thing.  Only this time you’ve got weight strapped to your back.  You’re pulling yourself even deeper into that forward dominant posture every time you do it.  Loaded compression of the lumbar spine, yadda yadda…it’s just not good for you.  Don’t do it.

Alternatives

  • Planks
  • Side Planks
  • Wood Chops

 

Recumbent Bike

It may be useful for someone rehabbing an injury.  But if your purpose in the gym is to get some kind of results, what are you doing on this piece of equipment?  You just spent eight hours of your life sitting at a desk staring at the computer.  Now you’re going to go to the gym to sit down for another thirty minutes to an hour looking at a magazine or the TV?  Your body was built to do its best moving in an upright and erect position.  Don’t insult your potential to be a fully mobile and functional human being by using this machine, please.

Alternatives

  • Stepmill
  • Versaclimber
  • Upright Bike
  • Cross Trainer
  • Treadmill

 

I know a lot of people may say it’s bad of me to write articles like this, that I’m only taking options away from people who might otherwise not workout.  This really is not my goal.  What I am trying to convey, is that fitness needs only to be as complicated as your body will allow it.  We don’t need all these fancy exercises and machines to develop our physiques to their full potential.  All that is needed is a few of the basics and some hard work.

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