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4 Exercises Adults Should Avoid!

Matt Skeffington

Matt’s primary role at Dynamic Strength and Conditioning is to make sure that our coaches and clients are consistently improving, all while operatin...

Matt’s primary role at Dynamic Strength and Conditioning is to make sure that our coaches and clients are consistently improving, all while operatin...

Jun 16 8 minutes read

Before we get into the 5 exercises adults should avoid, there are a few important things I want to explain.

Number 1:

In general there aren't any "bad" exercises, per se. 

There are however bad exercises for certain populations of people.

Here's an example:

You have a nagging knee injury that isn't feeling great.

It hurts every time your knee bends to a certain angle. 

Now, walking lunges for example are a fantastic exercise for building some serious leg strength and shredding fat.

The walking lunge isn't a bad exercise, but it could certainly be bad for that cranky knee. 

As you can see, it's not the exercise that is bad, but it's a bad exercise for you at that time.

Number 2:

No one exercise will make or break your fitness and results. 

It's easy to get wrapped up into what the media, fitness magazines, or Instagram is telling you about the "best exercises".

Remember that their goal is to get views, clicks, and likes, not to help you. 

Too often we fall into the trap of thinking we need to be doing some form of exercise like running or certain movements like burpees to reach our goals. 

In reality the opposite is true.

The key is to find the movements that work for you, your current fitness level, your injury history, and your goals.

Those exercises, the one's that are right for YOU, are the ones that will yield the biggest return.

At DSC, this is the mission of our coaches. 

Many of our new members come to us having never worked out before or it's been a very long time. Most also come in with some kind of injury history including bad backs, knees, hips, shoulders, and so on. 

Our coaches help our members find the best exercises for them to help them get stronger, improve their fitness, and feel GREAT!

Number 3:

Let's move onto injury risk.

Here at DSC, we are all about risk/reward. 

Our main cliental here is between the ages of 45 and 65. 

Knowing this, we select exercises for our members that deliver the most in terms of helping our members improve their strength and fitness, with the least risk for injury possible!

Our goal is to help our members improve for the long-run, not to toe the line of getting hurt.

Our members are not training for the Olympics or the next Crossfit Games. They simply want to feel better, lose weight, have fun, be strong and improve their energy.

It's our mission as coaches to put our members in the best possible situation at all times.

This means selecting and coaching the best exercises with the highest reward and lowest risk for our members.

Now that we covered the importance of prioritizing reward over risk and we understand that no one exercise is going to make or break our results, let's get into the 4 exercises all adults should avoid and what to do instead.

1) Wooden Box Jumps

Every time I see videos of people doing these, I cry a little inside. 

I do not think I could think of a worse exercise to do with adults.

If you aren't familiar with the box jump, it is a great movement to improve power by jumping and landing on a soft plyo box.

These are particularly great for adults as they actually place much less stress on your knees when you land up on the box compared to regular jumps.

The problem arises when fatigue sets in and people lose the ability to jump as high as they need to in order to clear the box.

Their shins hit the front of the box and they fall forward. 

Now combine this with the fact that the box is sharp and wooden and now you have bloody gashes through your shins.

Instead of doing box jumps from wooden boxes, stick to the soft plyo boxes, start from a low height, and always prioritize quality jumps over quantity (shown below).

2) Barbell Deadlifts

A few weeks ago we covered everything you need to know about the deadlift and how to master your technique. 

You can find the article, HERE!

A common theme of the article was that the deadlift is a FANTASTIC exercise and should be part of just about everyone's fitness program.

The issue arises when people, especially adults, jump right to the most challenging version of the deadlift, the barbell deadlift.

As we age, we lose the necessary mobility to get down to the bar and get ourselves in a good upright position. 

Because the bar is so close to the floor and out front of us, we don't have the range-of-motion at our ankles, hips, and upper-back.

We end up lifting the bar with a rounded low-back position and, OUCH! There goes our low-back. 

Combine this with the fact that most of us have had some kind of low-back injury history and you've got a recipe for disaster. 

The great news is you can still reap the benefits of the deadlift like increases in strength, posture, muscle tone, and fat-loss.

Instead of the barbell deadlift, stick to the kettlebell sumo and trap bar deadlifts shown below.

Both will drastically decrease your risk of injury!

3) Barbell Military Presses

Our next barbell exercise to avoid is the military press.

Like the deadlift the barbell overhead press requires a lot of strength and mobility to do well.

As we age, certain muscles stiffen due to lack of activity and our posture during the day.

We lose the ability to raise our arms overhead, without that "stuck" or "pinching" feeling in your shoulders.

That discomfort comes from a few reasons like tight muscles around your shoulders, poor posture, or a potential injury that you're dealing with like your rotator cuff.

Most of our adult members are dealing with this which is why we limit the amount of overhead pressing exercises they do.

The barbell military press is especially dangerous as it locks your hands, elbows, and shoulders in place as you press. 

If you don't have the mobility in your shoulders to press correctly, you either damage your shoulder or arch your back to compensate. 

Instead of the military press, give the landmine press shown below a try.

You can still gain all the benefits of building strength with your press, without all the risk.

As you can see, the angle of the press isn't quite overhead, but keeps your shoulder a bit lower, drastically decreasing your risk for injury. 

4) Maximum Effort Sprints

When you hit the age of 30-35 things start to change.

Once our members become working adults and not athletes, there's one exercise we remove. 

Maximum effort sprints.

Yes, running as fast as you possibly can isn't a great idea.

What happens is due to overly stiff muscles or because your muscles aren't used to the rapid contraction seen with sprinting, you end up with a calf or hamstring strain or tear -- both of which you don't want!

Sprinting though is one of the BEST ways to improve your fitness and shred fat.

So how do you still reap the benefits of sprinting without the injury risk?

First, make sure you've completed a full 5-10 minute warm-up aimed at increasing mobility around your ankles, calves, hamstrings, and hips as well as increasing your body temperature.

Second, take down your speed down. 

If 10 is as fast as you can sprint, stay at about a 6, 7, or 8.

Finally, change your mode of sprinting.

Running sprints will be the most stressful on your body and muscles and yields the greatest risk for injury.

As DSC, we've invested heavily in equipment that allows our members to SPRINT with minimal impact.

Try sprinting on low-impact equipment like our Airdyne bikes, light sleds, Skiergs, and Versaclimbers.

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