Exercises to Avoid
Updated: Mar 24
Alright, you got me! You’ve managed to push my buttons and inspire me to write this blog post. Today, I want to talk about some exercises that are a definite no-go for me. Now, as with any exercise, whether it's good or not depends on a variety of factors - the person, the purpose, and the overall goal. But let me tell you, there are some exercises out there that are just plain bad news, and I want to call them out. So, let's dive in and start with my first pick: the dreaded canoeist Russian twist. And don't even get me started on the weighted version - yikes!
1. Russian Twists
Unless you're a canoeist or wrestler, these twists, especially with added weight, are just not worth it. Weighted twisting is a surefire way to harm your spine. Now, if you're an athlete that requires a lot of twisting, it might make sense to include it in your training with control while considering how it fits into your overall plan. But for the rest of us, it's not worth the risk. We want to feel good, look good, and enjoy life to the fullest. Being injured is a major roadblock, and that's why I say steer clear of Russian Twists. Don't touch!
Now, this is going to be a crowd favorite. I fully comprehend why burpees are given as an exercise as it is a way to get someone's heart rate up and improve their fitness, without the need for any special equipment. The act of getting up and down from the ground can be quite tiring and that's why people opt for burpees.
Let me be real with you, as someone with low blood pressure, just getting up and down off the ground can make me see stars. So the thought of adding an explosive jump to that? It's a miracle I haven't knocked myself out on a nearby bench. But enough about me, let's talk about why burpees might not be the best choice for you either. First off, you need to be able to put your hands on the ground with your knees bent - not everyone has the hip mobility for that. And if you're compensating by flexing your spine, that's a problem. It might not seem like a big deal, but if you spend your days sitting hunched over a desk and then start jumping around in a flexed position, you're asking for trouble.
Now, some people will try to convince you that jumping with a flexed spine is natural and totally safe. But let's be real, those people probably don't spend their days at a desk or have any mobility issues. However, if your goal is to get up off the ground quickly for sports like wrestling or rugby, burpees could be a valuable tool. And if you're short on equipment and just want to get your heart rate up, they can serve a purpose there too. But for the rest of us, maybe it's time to explore some other options.
I've experienced instructors who assign excessive burpees of 100-200 a time without ever having completed the full workout themselves. This leads to a painful soreness that discourages participants from coming back. The issue is not with burpees as an exercise, but with relying on it too heavily. Unless it's part of a larger plan, you want to break the world record or it’s for competition purposes, good luck to you. I, personally, won't be partaking in a burpee challenge.
3. Heavy-Weighted Bulgarian Split Squats
Let's talk about an exercise that makes me scratch my head in disbelief when I see it programmed: the weighted Bulgarian split squat. Don't get me wrong, it's a fantastic movement for single leg strength and balance. But here's the problem - the position of having one leg tucked behind and hitting depth in
the lunge can cause a slight splitting motion in the pelvis. And for females, especially during certain times of the month, there can be extra looseness around the sacroiliac joint. So, loading up this movement with heavy weights should not be a goal.
Sure, you can achieve a great workout with Bulgarian split squats, but you don't need to load up a bar with half the weight you would for a regular squat - that's just asking for trouble in your lumbar spine. There are plenty of other ways to challenge yourself and achieve great results without putting your body at risk.
So, there you have it - only three exercises that I would recommend avoiding. As you can see, it all depends on your goals and what you're trying to achieve. I could go through each exercise and explain why I wouldn't recommend it in certain circumstances, but that would be a long and exhaustive list. Ultimately, it's up to you to determine what exercises are best suited for your specific needs and goals. Check out my post on some great exercises you can do and some information on how often you should train your core and abs.
If you're looking for more guidance, I highly recommend checking out some of the courses we offer through the Dr. Suz squad by sending us an email. We can help you learn what exercises are best for your injuries and what to avoid like the plague.
Oh and one more thing– let’s talk programming. When it comes to programming your workouts, progressive overload is key. This means gradually increasing weight or reps each week, usually by about 10%, to challenge your muscles and help you get stronger and leaner. But there are other ways to progressively overload too, such as changing the exercise or its complexity. Avoid randomly doing exercises and changing them all the time, unless it's the only way to get yourself moving. So, make sure to plan your workouts and aim for progress each week to see results.
The key thing to remember is that any movement is better than no movement. To get the most out of your exercise and see real results, you need to be increasing the amount of work you do, whether it's through cardio or resistance training. With cardio, this can be tough as you need to run for longer and more frequently, which can be time-consuming. But with resistance training, you don't have to spend as much time working out. You can increase the weight or reps, which won't take up your entire day. And if you've been training for years, this concept should make sense.