There are many exercises still being employed today that have been found to not be as beneficial as previously thought within the fitness community. Unfortunately, due to their prevalence, notoriety, and widespread use among amateurs, these exercises remain popular as in-home exercises. Before we continue, please note that some of these techniques are more advanced and we are aware not everyone will be employing these exercises, but we hope to offer alternative if you seek to target certain muscle groups.
Let's start simple with an exercise that many people use regularly to help them with their core strength. As it turns out, only 50% of this exercise is actually directly benefiting core muscles. At a certain point, the hip flexor muscles take over and the final portion of the exercise is no longer engaging the core. This becomes a problem if sit-ups are used frequently because it can lead to spinal issues and if the hip flexors are too tight, back pain and imbalance in the lower back muscles. Repeated use of sit-ups will wear out the disks between your vertebrae much faster than through normal use. Our alternative is the simple crunch or plank! It sounds silly, but these two very easy exercises only engage the core and are far more efficient. More advanced alternatives include V-Ups and flutter kicks. These also engage the core but require more endurance due to their intensity and larger range of motion.
Many of us do no have access to all types of fitness equipment at home or in our smaller gyms and we use furniture to aid in our exercise. One exercise in particular which requires assistance is the dip. Amateurs will position themselves in-front of the chair and use the seat to lower themselves, having their arms behind their body. Though this exercise is safe for those who workout often and have higher flexibility, for those just getting started, the range of motion this technique requires can cause shoulder problems. Without proper shoulder mobility, those employing chair dips will find themselves sore and will not see the results they are looking for. A much better alternative is to use two chairs and position oneself between them, lowering the body between both arms rather than in-front of them. This way the shoulders are engaged, but not in an extreme extension or internal rotation, creating a much safer dip. Additionally, a diamond push-up can me used allowing for the removal of a chair entirely. These are a bit more difficult to execute but are much more effective at targeting the triceps and chest muscles.
Behind the Back Pull-ups
There are those of us that still try to do crazy exercises with a pull-up bar. Though many more of us are still working on a single pull-up, there are ways to cause injury trying to change up this classic exercise. Once people have mastered the traditional chin-up, some try to execute a pull-up with the bar behind their neck. This is dangerous and ineffective which sometimes leads to serious neck strain. Similar to the bench dips, without proper mobility, the heavy load can cause issues in the rotator cuff muscles and the shoulder ligaments. Many think this exercise is necessary to target key muscles, but the truth is: a traditional chin-up will actually be just as effective. If you are intimidated by pull-ups in general or lack a pull-up bar and want an alternative, use renegade rows to target back, arm and shoulder muscles.
Closing thoughts - At home fitness is never a bad thing. Not all of us can afford a full gym membership or have the time to jump into a group fitness class everyday. The key to in-home work-outs however, is to ensure these exercises are both safe and effective. The worst thing an amateur can do when getting back into fitness is to employ a technique incorrectly and cause serious bodily harm. We always suggest speaking with an expert before embarking on a fitness journey. It can be very beneficial to sit down with a personal trainer and chart out a routine which establishes proper exercises personalized towards one's unique fitness goals. This doesn't mean going to the gym on a daily basis to speak with an expert, it just means setting aside one hour a week to allow for personalized attention can make the in-home exercises more effective and have greater longevity. My Health Studio offers Semi-Private and Private Fitness Training for all skill levels. Additionally, there is a complimentary 30 minute consultation being offered by My Health Studio that can be scheduled simply by contacting us directly. We hope some of these alternative exercises help those struggling to get the most out of their in-home work-out routines and ensure that techniques are being employed safely.
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