Hard Pressed Strength Coach Dan Geraci Emphasizes the Importance of Working Out Safely
From professional athletes to green gym goers, thousands of people find themselves injured each year when exercising. To maximize your workout both safely and effectively, Dan Geraci M.S., Head Strength Coach at Hard Pressed, debunks the myths surrounding injury-prone practices.
“Incorrect form when lifting weights is one of the top contributors to sports-related injuries,” says Geraci. “To prevent pulled muscles and other ailments, it is important to take age and fitness level into account as well as any neck, back or spinal issues you may have.”
Below are five exercises to avoid as well as alternative methods for a safer workout:
- Box Jumps: A compound movement that works the musculature of the hip and knee joints, this method also places excessive pressure on the Achilles Tendon which can lead to a rupture or tear. Missing the box with an uncoordinated misstep can result in a twisted ankle or scraped shins while the repeated jumps on a hard surface can cause knee pain.
- Alternative: The leg press works these same muscle groups but can create stronger muscles without the negative impact of box jumps. “The leg press targets the muscles around these joints as well,” says Geraci. “This produces more explosive and higher jumps, often the reason many turn to box jumps in the first place.”
- Dumbbell Chest Fly: Without a spotter or when using heavier weights, dumbbells can be difficult to control properly which can potentially lead to catastrophic muscle tears. Furthermore, most individuals use a shortened range of motion (ROM) for chest flys, which misses the mark for the most effective portion of the exercise.
- Alternative: Machine Chest Fly and cables can be much more effective and safe as these alternatives place you in the proper positioning to utilize a full ROM without leaving your muscles and joints vulnerable to free weight errors.
- Walking Lunges: Improper form is the main problem with walking lunges as the majority of people perform them incorrectly. “Bad form leads to increased stress on the knee and places it in a vulnerable position,” says Geraci. “Putting excessive force on structural components of the knee such as the Patella Tendon and the Meniscus can lead to injury.”
- Alternative: Doing stationary lunges (and having a spotter) will keep the knee in the proper position and allow you to maintain proper form while reaping all the benefits of lunges.
- Upright Rows: This exercise puts the rotator cuff muscles in an extremely pinched space (referred to as the sub-acromial space). In many individuals the Acromion Muscle is hooked or slightly hooked which leads to increased impingement.
- Alternative: To work your traps in a similar method, use the Shrug and Pull technique. This allows you to target the same muscles while moving the joint in a much more natural way, thus decreasing the chance of injury.
- BOSU/ Stability Balls: The extremely instable platform these balls provide can lead to a myriad of injuries. They put you in a vulnerable state while performing movements that often times lead to injury when in completely stable environments. Contrary to popular belief, doing exercises on these balls has no functional purpose outside of training the body to better perform these exercises while on a stability ball.
- Alternative: Perform the exercises in a stable environment rather than on the ball. You will better target the primary muscles (i.e. chest for chest press) while not leaving your joints, muscles and tendons susceptible to injury. Then, exercise your core muscles and abdominals separately. “Working your chest with a chest press movement on a stability ball is a poor attempt at a two-for-one type of deal,” says Geraci. “While killing two birds with one stone sounds good in theory, if it leads to injury you are worse off than when you started.”
About Hard Pressed:
Hard Pressed is Chicago’s premier Strength Training facility with a focus on full-body strength training. Inspired by the collegiate-style weight rooms Head Strength Coaches Dan Geraci M.S. (University of Michigan) and Ron Israel (University of Florida) experienced at their respective NCAA athletic programs, Hard Pressed offers a streamlined workout that is effective and efficient. The 30 minute workout is coaching intensive, consisting of a strength training regimen that combines a mix of free weights and state-of-the-art weight machines for maximum intensity and effectiveness. With a strong concentration on training safely, the program offers a high-intensity workout that maximizes results in a safe and effective manner. Hard Pressed is located at 219 W. Chicago Suite 600, Chicago IL 60654.
Lindsay @ Fit & Awesome says
Don’t the benefits of these exercises outweigh the potential negative side effects? I can see how box jumps could potentially cause problems with the knees but I find the leg press to be much harder on my body in my opinion.
The fact is that all forms of exercise have an inherent risk of injury associated with them. Another truth is that you can do just about anything to increase your fitness and health levels (go outside and pick up rocks and throw them down for an hour a day and you will get results). The trick is finding something that you actually semi-enjoy/will stick to, can be effective yet time efficient, and also minimizes the risk of injury.
This article offers a few of the higher injury risk exercises and offers alternatives for them; so Lindsay, it does not seem that they think the benefits outweigh the potential negative side effects as they have offered alternatives that give similar benefits with decreased negatives.
In regards to the Leg Press; this is one of the safest ways you can strength train your legs if done properly. Properly here means a few things:
1.) The machine is set up properly to place your hips and knees at the proper angles/alignment.
2.) The weight is appropriate for your current strength level.
3.) Your repetitions are done in a safe and controlled manner.
The reason the leg press can potentially be so safe is that you can use it to really control the alignment of your knees and hips, and there is little risk of dropping weight.