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8 Popular Exercises That Can Be Dangerous for You and How to Replace Them

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Some exercises can cause more damage than progress for your health, creating issues like unnecessary tension in the neck, spine, and shoulders or too much stress on your joints. There are also exercises that are so ineffective, you’ll just be wasting your time doing them. The good news is that there’s a suitable replacement option for each of them.

We at Bright Side did some research to find out which exercises you should refrain from and how to replace them.

1. Behind the neck pull-downs vs Traditional pull-downs

Stop doing. Generally speaking, pulldown exercises target the back muscles, which are a large muscle group that normally requires relatively heavy weight. The problem starts when you pull the weight behind the neck. In this instance, you have no option but to crank your neck forward, putting lots of tension on it. Plus your shoulders get into a very awkward position. The reality is, behind the neck pull-downs have no particular advantages compared to traditional pull-downs, where you pull the weight down to your chest instead.

Start doing. Traditional pull-downs are a great exercise for your upper body strength, targeting the back and bicep muscles using the body’s natural position and moves that are more natural.

  • Sit on a bench facing the pull-down machine;
  • Grab the bar with a wide grip;
  • Pull your shoulder blades back and down, bringing the bar to your chest;
  • Return to the starting position and repeat.

Make sure that you adjust the weight correctly. If you find that you have to lean back to complete the pull-down, you’ve probably gotten a little too ambitious with the weight.

2. Tricep dips with hands behind you on the bench vs Tricep extensions

Stop doing. Although dips are effective exercises for your triceps, it’s a good idea to stay away from them. Because they force your shoulders to do extreme internal rotation and put too much pressure on your joints. It gets even worse if you do it on a chair or a high bench, as is usually recommended for beginners.

Start doing. Tricep extensions are a very effective isolated exercise targeting the triceps.

  • Start by standing up with one dumbbell held in both hands and your feet shoulder-width apart;
  • Lift the dumbbell over your head with your arms extended and elbows kept close to your head;
  • Lower your forearms behind your head;
  • Return to the starting position and repeat.

Note: Only the forearms should be moving, the upper arms should stay in the same position, close to the head.

Another alternative is narrow push-ups.

3. Tuck jumps vs Traditional jumps

Stop doing. This is where you do squats or burpees, then jump and tuck your knees up toward your chest. It may look cool, but it puts so much unnecessary stress on your knees and ankles without any real benefits.

Start doing. Jumping raises your heart rate and it’s beneficial for weight loss. If that’s what you are working on and you really like jumping at the end of squats or burpees, avoid tucking your knees. This way you still increase your heart rate, but don’t put too much pressure to your ankles and knees.

4. Crunches vs Plank

Stop doing. We all want to get a flat stomach, but crunches are really not the best way to achieve this goal. They are both ineffective and unsafe. If you are a beginner, it’s natural to pull your neck to far forward, putting way too much stress on it. And if you already have strong abs, you’ll have to do endless crunches to get any results, and your low back won’t forgive you for that.

Start doing. We all love doing plank to different degrees. It’s one of the most beneficial exercises and you can always adjust it to your own level.

  • Start on the floor on your hands and knees. Lower your forearms to the floor and place your elbows directly under your shoulders;
  • Step your feet back so you get a straight line from your heels to your head;
  • Hold.

There are a few variations of this exercise, so you can always adjust it to your personal comfort level.

  • Standard Plank: stay on your hands instead of your elbows, keeping the arms straight
  • Single-Leg Plank: lift one foot to hover off the floor
  • Knee Plank: stay on your knees instead of your toes

5. Sit-ups vs Leg raises

Stop doing. This exercise may be popular, but that doesn’t mean it’s effective. In fact, sit-ups are even worse for your lower back than crunches.

Start doing. Leg raises are a simple, but very effective, exercise for your core and thighs.

Another good alternative is plank.

6. Side bends vs Side-plank crunch

Stop doing. This exercise is a waste of your time at the gym. If you decide to do it to lose unwanted fat on your sides, it’s not going to happen because you cannot lose fat in specific spots, only in the body as a whole. Plus, this exercise forces you to bend your spine sideways which is a very unnatural movement.

Start doing. Side-plank crunch works on core, shoulders, back, and arms.

  • Start by laying on your left side with your forearm directly below your shoulder and your right hand behind your head, but don’t put any pressure on your neck with this hand, it’s just supposed to rest there for balance;

  • Lift the body keeping the legs long and the feet stacked;

  • Engage your core;

  • Lower your body and then lift it up all the way, repeat.

7. Seated leg extensions vs Goblet squats

Stop doing. The leg extension exercises do work on your leg muscles, but these machines put your knees under so much stress that the damage overwhelms the benefits. These exercises target muscles which can normally handle relatively heavy weight, but the way these are setup the weight becomes way too much for those small and very important tendons and ligaments in your knees.

Start doing. Goblet squat works your entire body and is a very natural movement and posture.

  • Keep your feet hip-width apart;
  • Hold the weight near your chest (the weight stays in the same position for the entire exercise);
  • Squat, sitting into your heels;
  • Squat as deep as you can;
  • Return to the starting position and repeat.

8. Back hyperextensions vs Back raises

Stop doing. Back hyperextensions put a lot of strain on your lower back, simply because the lower back is not meant to extend much beyond a neutral position.

Start doing. Back raises target the same area and are just as beneficial, but they’re a much safer exercise for your lower back.

  • Adjust the back raise machine to a 45° angle;
  • Lower your upper body;
  • Begin raising your back up into a neutral position;
  • Return to the starting point and repeat.

Important note

Remember that it is always better to be safe than sorry. If you have any medical concerns, have a chat with your doctor or physiotherapist first to check and see if there are some exercises that you should avoid, and how to replace them. And if you are new to the gym world, it is very beneficial to book a few sessions with a personal trainer to learn how to do the exercises correctly. Quality in workouts is always more critical than quantity.

What do you think about this list? Do you agree with it or disagree? Do you know of any more exercises that are not safe to perform? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below. Stay fit and stay safe.

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26 Photos Proving That Happiness Is Not About iPhones

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Some people are chasing their future so fast that they stop noticing how great their lives today actually are. And truly happy people don’t need to chase anything: they are happy to have a comfortable bed, a loyal friend who is always there for them, a present from their grandmother, and for every small achievement on their life path.

These people are more effective than any coach at teaching us to be happy right here and right now and we at Bright Side were inspired by their ability to be happy no matter what.

1. His person just got home after a few months of work. That’s the look of pure happiness.

2. Soap bubbles are absolutely necessary for a happy childhood.

3. These 4 guys agree.

4. “My son has struggled with autism, Tourette’s, agoraphobia, severe anxiety, and OCD. He found solace in writing and just published his book on Amazon! Here he is giving a copy to one of his teachers that helped him along the way.”

5. “The photo my sister sent me of her dog and the new puppy they just got”

6. “My mom made my girls one Pom-Pom rug each. They took 80 hours, 320 Pom-Poms, and she let them choose their favorite colors. Just missed Christmas, but they are ecstatic nevertheless.”

7. “After years of sleeping on the floor and then on an air mattress, I finally own a bed!!! ”

8. I call this one “Pure Happiness.”

9. “My niece has always loved pumpkins. Today, we took her to a pumpkin farm for the first time…”

10. “10 months ago I decided to start learning to love myself. I moved states, got a new job, and have surrounded myself with amazing friends (some new & old). This photo has captured exactly how I feel… Pure happiness! I am so proud”

11. “My wife captured a moment between my daughter and I on the train while she was ‘booping’ my nose with hers. Pure happiness.”

12. “Makes me weak in the knees to see the happiness in my 8-year-old yellow Lab’s eyes, as well as the happiness in the eyes of my 81-year-old Mom.”

13. He is genuinely happy.

14. When your friend is with you and you’re happy:

15. Weee… that was fun.

16. With age, people are more likely to find harmony with themselves and with the world.

17. “My boyfriend got me a lemur experience for my birthday!”

18. Snow. This is all these guys need to be happy.

19. There is no such thing as pure happiness… Or is there?

20. “My mother had wanted a miniature poodle for over 30 years. This is the day Zoe came home.”

21. “My dad got married this past weekend after being single for 13 years and raising 3 girls alone. This is what happiness looks like.”

22. “Here’s another shot of my 101-year-old grandfather with our new puppy! This is pure joy if I’ve ever seen it!”

23. “Me and my girlfriend were in a car accident in which her arm had to be amputated. A week later we adopted Lola, I don’t know who’s happier… I’m going with Lola.”

24. “After an 8 month apprenticeship, and numerous clean downs and set ups, this is me doing my first tattoo on some fake skin. It is what it is but I couldn’t be happier. I earned this.”

25. “My parents split up when I was a baby. Even though they didn’t get along, they maintained a healthy relationship so they could equally raise me. This is our first picture together in a decade. I’m thankful to be proof that parents who are separated can still work together.”

26. Happiness is a state of mind.

Which of these photos seems the most uplifting to you?

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