By Mike Kubas
In the post Covid era I’ve learned a lot of things NOT to do. In line with this theme, I pulled together a list of some exercises that should probably go out the window along with some of those pre Covid habits. While not as dangerous as Covid, some of these exercises still carry a substantial, unnecessary risk and should be abandoned sooner rather than later.
1. Side Bends with 2 Dumbbells
I’m not a huge fan of side bends to begin with, but when you use two dumbbells to do them, the weight on one side is offsetting the weight on the opposite. This effectively negates any type of work being done. A better option is using only one dumbbell, lowering the weight under control to that side, then standing back up to a neutral, tall spine position and not past that (i.e. do not crunch to the opposite side.) Crunching all the way to the opposite side puts unnecessary stress on the spine laterally, leading to a greater chance that you will slip a disc or injure yourself.
2. Bicep Curls on a BOSU Ball
To be honest, there’s not a whole lot of uses for the BOSU Ball. One of the smartest trainer’s I’ve known once said to me, “You know what standing on a BOSU ball makes you better at? STANDING ON A BOSU BALL! That’s it!” (Now don’t get me wrong, this half circle does have redeemable qualities when used for injury rehabilitation purposes or used properly to improve balance.) However, unless used properly (which it rarely is), simply doing just any old exercise on the BOSU ball will essentially have little to no impact on improving muscle mass, force generation, or strength. It’s merely adding a risk factor to your exercise, so if you’re a thrill seeker but not ready to go all Free Solo out there, then have at it! 😊
3. Planks Longer than 60 Seconds
Yes I saw that guy do that 8 hour plank. My first question was “Why?!?!” I’m actually more impressed with the mental toughness to stay in one spot for 8 hours under that type of pain! Because at some point during those 8 hours, his abs fatigued to such an extent that his lower back was doing all of the work. Here’s a link to someone smarter than me giving a deeper analysis of what’s going on during these marathon planks. Are You Planking Your Way Into Back Pain? | STACK
With that said, once you can plank for 60 seconds, it’s time to move on to a more difficult variation. Your time is important, and you want an exercise that’s going to challenge you. I’m not saying throw 45lb plates on your back but make the movement more dynamic or the position more difficult. Doing your plank on a stability ball or stability ball rollouts are great variations, or you can progress to a single leg plank or single arm high plank. All of these are much more difficult than your standard plank and give you a new exercise to try and master.
4. Partner Leg Throws
You all know the silly “ab” exercise where one person lies on their back with their legs straight up, bracing their arms on the other person’s legs. Then the standing partner, violently shoves down the legs of the lying partner as they try to resist the force, mistakenly thinking they are working their abs. This one largely leads to lower back pain. The bulk of the work of the abs, is skipped and falls to the hip flexors to slow down the legs. When they can’t, it shifts to the low back in a very disadvantageous position. There’s no beneficial purpose to decelerating one’s legs in this position. You are much better off doing strict stability ball crunches or some variation of knees to chest with heavy emphasis on the eccentric/lowering portion and having control.