There are many things which are popular in the fitness world, despite being completely wrong.
Five finger shoes, for example. Wrong.
The use of the word superfood. Wrong.
Juice Plus+. Wrong.
I could go on here, but today I want to focus on exercises.
Holy moly. SIX exercises everybody does wrong?!
In theory, that could amount to a full workout.
From guys who squat like a granny trying to sit down on a bus, to barbell curls that use every muscle except the biceps, there are countless schoolboy errors being made in the gym.
Here are my 6 top picks. Make sure you aren’t doing any of them.
1 Barbell Squat
Done right, the barbell squat is the best exercise bar none. It’s the pillar which any strong workout routine is built around.
There are two common errors I see in most gyms. They are:
- Granny squats – the classic case of a guy who refuses to squat the weight he can, you know, squat with. Instead, he piles more plates onto the bar and leaves himself in a position where he cannot go beyond a tiny 30 degree angle. He is essentially performing “knee shrugs”.
- Instagram squats – there seems to be this crazy social media pressure on women to look sexy when they do squats. And what usually happens is too much body weight is being placed over the toes, forcing your butt to stick out at porn levels. But while all the gymbro’s may stare, she ain’t making any gains.
A proper squat is a combination of correcting the errors in the two examples above. First of all, remove enough weight from the bar so that you can perform a full rep. Nobody gives a fuck. Aim to break just below parallel, even lower if you can. Secondly, your weight should be distributed over your heels, not your toes. This will allow you to sit back into the rep, and give you significantly more power when you force your way out of the hole.
Do not hunch your back when you deadlift. It’s as simple as that.
3. Biceps Curl
Despite the attempts of millions of guys to have this recognized as a full body exercise, the biceps curl does not involve anything other than your good old biceps. Your elbows should be tucked tightly into your side, and the only things that should move are your forearms.
4. Shoulder Press
When performing these with a barbell, the most common error is adopting an incorrect grip. Your forearms should be able to create a 90 degree angle in the bottom position of the rep.
Also, if you perform this exercise with dumbbells I recommend using the X Press technique over a regular dumbbell shoulder press. With dumbbells, as soon as we bring the weights together in the top 20% of the rep we lose a lot of tension. The X Press has us push the dumbbells out more, so they lie outside your shoulders at the top of the rep, which keeps tension on your deltoids throughout the entire set – but will require a slightly lighter weight.
5. Bench Press
Most guys complain they can feel the bench press in their shoulders more than pecs.
If that’s the case, look at your grip placement. I recommend taking a biacromial grip on the bar (the distance between the two “lumps” at the top of your shoulders multiplied by 1.5″). Instead of flaring your elbows out to the side, this narrower grip will feel more natural when you lower the bar at a 30 degree angle, and in doing so you will hit your pecs much more.
Oh, and don’t even get me started on that guy who puts his feet on the bench. Keep them on the fucking floor. (read this)
6. Straight-arm Pulldown
Given their location and the fact they require pulling movements, isolating the lats can be tricky. The straight-arm pulldown is one of the few exercises which really allows you to get in there, but there are two common errors which stop most guys from yielding the best possible results from it.
First, you should start the rep from a ninety degree angle. Most guys start too high, which stretches out the triceps, causing them to fail first. If your triceps are burning like a bad guy in an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie by the end of your set, here’s where you are going wrong.
Second, switch to a rope and perform the exercise single-handed. Training uni-laterally is a great way to boost your mind/muscle connection, which is great if you typically have problems “feeling” your lats as you work them. To top it all off, using the rope allows you to push each rep beyond the line of your body, which will engage your lats to a much greater degree.
And There You Have It!
Do you agree with my choices? Like the article to let me know, or join the conversation on Facebook here.