Category Archives: Training Philosophy

Rehabilitation vs. Athletic Performance Enhancement Training: Are we Asking Questions that are Already Answered?

Rehabilitation vs. Athletic Performance Enhancement Training: Are we Asking Questions that are Already Answered?

Robert A. Panariello MS, PT, ATC, CSCS
Professional Physical Therapy
Professional Athletic Performance Center
New York, New York

Throughout my career as a Physical Therapist (PT), Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC), and Strength and Conditioning (S&C) Coach I have been witness to many trends that have transpired upon these related professions. The evolution of the internet has been a significant venue for the conveyance of these trends with much of this information comprising assorted material of pertinent substance, some without; nonetheless the internet has offered many professionals their own claim of “notoriety” and in some instances financial gain. I am personally not opposed to capitalism as I am in private business myself. Like many others I also acknowledge various practitioners who evolve as “experts” in their professional field of choice and have mentors whom I very much respect. Presently there is an abundant amount of information and products available to the practicing professional where as the boundaries for the specific application of some of this information is often clouded if not altogether disregarded.

Buddy Morris

Performance Enhancement Training Trends

One current training trend appears to be the application of the principles of Sports Rehabilitation (SR) into the S&C setting. Certainly there is an “overlap” so to speak with regard to these two professions, however, it should be noted that these are two distinctly different professions. The application of various SR principles as related to the practice of S&C although practicable at times is becoming alarmingly close to providing a disservice to the training athlete.

Rehabilitation concerns often articulated include the “dreaded” type III acromion, upper trap dominance, the deep squat, disregarding bi-lateral leg exercises, the reluctance to utilize heavy weight intensities, and the list goes on and on. When pathology, anatomical abnormality or medical concerns are present; wouldn’t communication between the rehabilitation and S&C professionals take place to design a training program with all pertinent modifications? When these concerns are NOT present why is there still the intention to train the athlete as if they do exist? Is this due to the rehabilitation principles publicized for the training environment? In the S&C environment is optimal athletic performance as well as the prevention of athletic injuries best achieved with the application of rehabilitation principles or by optimally enhancing the physical qualities required for the sport of participation?

As an example the concern of the previously mentioned type III acromion appears to be commonly communicated. Is the expectation to x-ray every athlete training to confirm if the type III acromion morphology exists? Type III acromion morphology is substantiated to be present in the minority when compared to the type I and II. This evidence is often overlooked thus is the intent to have the minority manipulate the majority and prohibit overhead exercise performance? During my recent trip to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to visit with my good friend Head Basketball S&C Coach Jonas Sahratian, some of his players demonstrated split jerking 100 – 100+ Kg of weight intensity overhead. These players had no complaint of shoulder, back, hip or knee pain, and demonstrated no limitations in range of motion (ROM), strength, neuro-muscular timing, or any other often stated clinical rehabilitation concerns. These basketball athletes lifted weights overhead for enhanced athletic/basketball performance as well as to survive the physical confrontations that occur under the boards during repetitive practice days and game day competition. Is there as much publically stated concern for the weaker athlete situated against a stronger opponent in the confined area under the boards? Isn’t it possible that these dominated weaker athletes are placed at risk of injury?

Why is it necessary to perform an abundant number of rotator cuff exercises when this muscle group is confirmed to be strong, neuro-muscular timing is appropriate and research attests this small muscle group has an active role during the execution of many upper body exercises? Why is there failure to mention the documented consequences due to excessive rotator cuff fatigue that transpires due to unwarranted exercise performance? When no deficiency in muscle activity nor neuro-muscular timing is noted during a pain-free technically proficient exercise execution, why is it necessary to “activate the muscles” prior to the actual exercise performance? Isn’t the most precise muscle “activation” for a specific activity an appropriately executed progression of the actual activity? This is not to imply that a warm-up isn’t warranted, however, if an athlete desires to become a better baseball pitcher wouldn’t they practice pitching? To become an improved golfer wouldn’t they golf? Therefore to become a better back squatter wouldn’t they actually have to back squat? Doesn’t form follow function? If this were not true why is practice necessary? Why not workout and just play the game?

The deep squat results in various joint(s) stresses that all professionals should be aware as isn’t this knowledge (science) required for prudent training? Investigations have established the deeper knee bend positions demonstrate the greatest lower extremity muscle activity, thus without the presence of a contra-indication why would an athlete not assume the most beneficial position during the exercise performance? If the deep knee bend position is so detrimental to the athlete why are there no noted medical community demands for the abolishment of the catcher’s position in the game of baseball?

Why is there such concern with appropriately programmed heavy weight intensities? Is it because these weight intensities exceed those utilized in the rehabilitation setting? It is documented that game day competition and practice days are the environments where the highest incidence of athletic injuries occur as weight room injuries have been noted to occur at a rate of less than 1%. There are circumstances where specific exercises and heavy weight intensities may be appropriately prohibited from the athlete’s training program design. However there are also instances at the time rehabilitation is completed and all contra-indications are resolved, yet an apprehension continues to exist with regard to these same exercises and weight intensities. Isn’t this suitable programming necessary to prepare the athlete for the stresses of repetitive team practice, game day competition and the physical confrontation of an opponent? Why on occasion does there appear to be less concern with returning the athlete to the field of competition, the initial cause of the athlete’s problem? When appropriate exercises and weight intensities are deemed prohibitive isn’t it fair to inquire if they are truly contra-indicated or are the principles of rehabilitation for a pathology which no longer exists continually being applied?

Most professionals would agree that not every exercise, principle, and application of heavy weight intensity is appropriate for every individual. However, isn’t the athlete’s exercise selection and training programming part of the “art” of both SR and S&C? Why is the “art and science” of coaching often ignored by the reader of an article or the attendee of a conference at the time the rehabilitation based questions of “what about this, what about that” arise? Is this due to the clinical rehabilitation information that is delivered via various public forums? If abnormalities and medical conditions are acknowledged why is it assumed they will not be properly addressed during training?

They are Different Professions

Ask yourself why do the majority if not all Professional Sport Teams, Colleges, and Universities have both an Athletic Training Medical Staff and an S&C Staff? Why are there two distinct departments? In most circumstances would the Athletic Training Staff be designated to Athletic Performance Enhancement Train an individual or team for a Championship? Would the S&C Staff be appointed to rehabilitate a post-operative World Class athlete or any athlete from day one? Why not just employ ONE of these professional staffs to both rehabilitate and train all athletes? Imagine all the money saved by eliminating an entire professional staff/department. This does not occur because these are two distinctly different and respected professions. This statement is not intended to be disparaging as I respect and practice both in my vocation. Many of the concerns and principles deemed appropriate and utilized in one profession may not be a concern or appropriate for utilization in another. There are certainly professionals qualified to practice both, however this is the exception and not the rule. In our 44 Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy clinics as well as our 20,000 square foot Athletic Performance Training Center we accept more than 180 physical therapy, physical therapy assistant, athletic training, and S&C student interns annually. In review of the curriculums of these student interns it is substantiated that they are quite different in both educational content and clinical requirements.

My good friend Hall of Fame NFL S&C Coach Johnny Parker told me a story about a former NFL Assistant and Head Coach whom I am familiar named Al Groh. Coach Groh was an assistant on Head Coach Bill Parcells coaching staff with the NFL New York Giants, New England Patriots, and New York Jets. These teams were persistently in the playoffs winning Super Bowls and Championship games. These three organizations had one thing in common; they were all not very successful prior to the arrival of Coach Parcell’s and his staff. This coaching staff was not elaborate and avoided the trends and hearsay of the “outsiders”. They just applied the fundamentals specific to the game of football and worked very hard. On one occasion Coach Groh turned to Coach Parker and stated, “You know JP I think I have this thing figured out. Get the team organized, get them disciplined, get the team in condition, have a plan, follow that plan and let the losers eliminate themselves”. During my 10 years as the Head S&C Coach at St. John’s University Hall of Fame Basketball Coach Lou Carnesecca had the same ”no outside nonsense” and work hard philosophy. Coach Carnesecca won 640 basketball games during his coaching career.

Rehabilitation and S&C Coaches are well respected professionals that are vital to the athlete’s and team’s success. Although there is overlap between these two professions, these are two distinctly unique vocations requiring very different knowledge and skill sets. Every athlete in training should be treated as an individual and the S&C Professional has a choice to incorporate an S&C philosophy or a rehabilitation philosophy. The performance training road paved will eventually be one of success or one of consequences as with athleticism and skill being similar it is the stronger and more powerful athlete that will usually prevail. The terms “Rehabilitation” and “Strength and Conditioning” are not interchangeable and are as different as the principles and skill sets utilized in each respective profession. If this were not true why aren’t these professional staffs/departments interchangeable?

A Response to the Internet Expert

Recently, I saw a Facebook thread that was criticizing a popular strength coach for his methods. I happen to know this strength coach and appreciate his insight. This particular coach’s methods and opinions have been shaped by two solid decades of strength coaching and personal training experience. A cursory investigation of the individual that was the most vocal in his attacks revealed that he’d been lifting weights for just a couple of years and had zero experience in working with other individuals. I don’t like getting involved in social media debates as I feel that my time is better served elsewhere, so I stayed out of it. I was hoping that my colleague stepped in to defend himself, especially considering the fact that he was tagged in the thread, but he laid low. Here’s what I wanted him to say:

“Maybe you’re right. Maybe I’m just some old, washed-up coach with antiquated methods.

Maybe everyone should ignore me and just do things your way.

But you know what? Maybe, just maybe, you’re way off base in your criticism.

You see, these methods that you attack are based on watching over a million reps of squats, deadlifts, chin ups, and bench press. They were carefully crafted and molded while working with several thousand athletes over many years in the weight room.

Maybe the mere fact that you’re so confident shows just how unprepared and unqualified you are to be making such comments.

I watch a dozen of your types emerge every week on the internet. Oh, the folly of youth.

Could it be that you’re just another cocksure youngster who feels entitled to judge every coach’s methods because he read the latest month of T-Nation articles and collected his first year of beginner gains as a lifter?

Could it be that you mistakenly thought that circle-jerking on Internet strength training forums replaced decades of experience gleaned from waking up at 4 a.m. and spending the bulk of your waking hours in the gym working with real people?

Could it be that you’re just wandering the earth, umbilical cord in hand, looking for some place to plug in?

Your arguments are as flimsy as the Bosu ball you squat on, because your knowledge comes from parroting other coaches instead of hands-on experience. When Rippetoe’s latest article disagrees with John’s previous article, and when Pavel’s latest work contradicts Wendler, you fall apart and are left shivering in your Vibrams.

What’s that you say – adaptive reconstruction versus supercompensation? Don’t worry, I read Supertraining too. In fact, I read it when you were just a child. But while you’re busy sifting through your copy looking for passages to plagiarize, I’m using mine as a 1-board press to build my athletes’ bench press strength. I’m wondering if you even have an original thought to share.

You haven’t put in the work, son.

You never had to train 20+ high school athletes all by yourself with limited or no equipment.

You never had to start off as an intern or lowly assistant, kiss the head coach’s ass, work your way into the inner-circle, and climb your way up the greasy rungs in order to one day be the head honcho and make meaningful changes.

You never took a losing team and helped turn them into winners, nor did you ever help make a team bigger, stronger, faster, and more powerful without injuring any players along the way.

You never had to convince a team of collegiate football players, each of whom could probably whoop your ass, to follow your lead.

You never had to work with the female soccer player with a severe glute imbalance, therefore you never figured out any solutions for improving her lateral shifting when she squats.

You never trained the grappler who roundbacked every time he bent over, and so you never had to come up with unique ways to enforce the hip hinge.

You never worked with the volleyball player with a nasty case of valgus collapse, so you never created any fixes for preventing medial knee displacement while squatting.

You never had to work with youth or elderly athletes.

You never worked with outliers with extreme anthropometries, so you’re not equipped to deal with the athlete who is forced to SLDL every pull or squat morning every squat.

You never worked with the 7 foot tall NBA player with persistent low back pain or the NHL player with a sports hernia.

You never worked with the MLB pitcher and experimented with different methods to try to improve pitching speed, therefore you don’t have the slightest clue as to what best transfers to what.

You never worked with the bikini competitor whose glutes weren’t responding to traditional squats and deadlifts, so you never had to get crafty with your glute training methods.

You’ve never spoken to the veteran athlete about his favorite go-to exercises in order to earn his buy-in, nor have you listened to feedback from thousands of clients pertaining to various exercises.

You never had to work with the support staff to try to get a handle on a particular athlete’s unique injury, pain, or discomfort.

You never had to pull a MacGuyver and rig up some equipment on the fly in order to allow your client to perform a certain exercise variation.

You never took the time to experiment with the hundreds of exercise variations, not in your own training, and not in the training of others.

You never created your own list of progressions and regressions or exercise categorization scheme.

You never tossed and turned in bed trying to take your mind off of your team’s strength & conditioning challenges.

You never even learned the scientific method in order to control variables so you could learn any true effects of an implementation.

You haven’t the slightest clue how laden the broscience you speak is with confirmation bias, cherry-picking, and logical fallacies.

You never won any championships, set any records, furthered your education, received any certifications, or presented at any conferences, so you haven’t earned the respect and admiration of your peers.

You never made friends with the true movers and shakers in the industry, and so you never got to pick their brains to glean their insight.

Ask any good strength coach. It’s not about creating the strongest athlete possible; it’s about creating the best athlete possible. This requires a combination of mobility, stability, strength, and power in multiple directions. Achieving this blend is going to require a bit more than what you propose.

There are some things that just can’t be learned by reading Starting Strength from cover to cover or receiving a weekend FMS certification.

You haven’t earned the ability to properly critique my work. Maybe, just maybe, you could learn a thing or two from me punk.


Why I Lift, and Why You Should Too

Lifting weights is good for you. You don’t need me to tell you that, it’s common sense. Most people intuitively understand that sedentarism is not a good idea, and that exercise (especially resistance training) will do their bodies a lot of good. Below, I’ve compiled 30 great reasons why you should adhere to an exercise regimen. Each of these reasons has at least one published paper supporting the claim. Aerobic and resistance exercise can help:

  1. Maintain functional ability
  2. Prevent osteoporosis
  3. Prevent sarcopenia
  4. Increase insulin sensitivity and decrease insulin resistance
  5. Increase metabolic rate
  6. Improve glucose metabolism
  7. Decrease systolic and diastolic blood pressure and arterial stiffness
  8. Decrease body fat and central adiposity
  9. Improve gastrointestinal transit time
  10. Reduce the risk of diabetes
  11. Reduce the risk of heart disease
  12. Reduce the risk of cancer
  13. Reduce the risk of falls, fractures and disabilities
  14. Decrease cardiovascular demands of exercise
  15. Decrease triglyceride, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol levels
  16. Increase HDL cholesterol levels
  17. Increase muscle and connective tissue strength and hypertrophy
  18. Increase mobility and flexibility
  19. Increase joint stability
  20. Improve balance and coordination
  21. Improve posture
  22. Increase brain/cognitive function
  23. Increase confidence, self-esteem, and happiness
  24. Combat depression and anxiety
  25. Combat metabolic syndrome
  26. Combat frailty syndrome
  27. Improve function in people with cancer, dementia, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, post-stroke disability, lupus, asthma, diabetes, ADHD, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, autism, bipolar disorder, COPD, epilepsy, low back pain, neck pain, chronic headache, and erectile dysfunction
  28. Increase strength, power, speed, and endurance
  29. Prevent ACL, hamstring strain, lumbar, ankle sprain, and shoulder injuries
  30. Improve quality of life
exercising happiness

See? Exercising makes you happy!

It took me many hours of researching to compile this list, and this list provides compelling reasons why everyone should exercise. But let’s not kid ourselves. Though we all like being healthier and fitter, many of us primarily train for physique purposes. In fact, the primary reason why women exercise is for weight control (87.5% of women), and the primary reason why men exercise is for muscular definition (84.7% of men).

We all have different reasons for exercising. My reasons are going to differ from your reasons. But I’m just going to be honest here and list my top 6 reasons for lifting. I’m well aware that most of these reasons are vain and selfish in nature, but considering the health benefits of exercise, there are far worse evils.

1. Attract More Physically Attractive Partners

Being fit doesn’t give you an excuse to be a jerk or to not practice chivalry. However, it will get your foot in the door with a greater number of attractive people. Sure, we’ve all seen plenty of mismatched couples in terms of physical attractiveness. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and many people gravitate toward partners that make them laugh, feel good about themselves, or inspire them in one way or another. On the other hand, some people will prefer a wealthy mate that will spoil them with gifts and a life of luxury. But make no mistake about it, when most people describe their ideal mate, the individual they describe is physically fit and attractive. If you would like to date someone with a rockin’ body and bangin’ booty, you should probably look the part yourself. Princess Leias rarely want to be with Jabba the Hutts. Plus, getting fit takes much less time than getting filthy rich.


In the real world, Leia doesn’t fantasize about Jabba

If and when you get your chance with a high caliber individual, you’ll need to demonstrate good attributes if you want the person to stick around. There are hundreds of these characteristics, and they include sense of humor, confidence, personal hygiene, attire and style, charisma, integrity, humility, intelligence, competence, optimism, attentiveness, generosity, sexuality and romance, class, tact, ability to have fun, willingness to compromise, assertiveness, dependability, kindness, passion and compassion, courtesy, calmness, affection, ability to lead, work ethic, drive and ambition, daringness, loyalty and trustworthiness, supportiveness, openness, thoughtfulness, special talents, unique mannerisms, scent, and success. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you’re fit, you’ll get a free pass to be lousy in every other area of life.

I’m now engaged to my fiancee Diana, so I’m no longer on the prowl, but that doesn’t diminish my fuel to train like a beast. I want to look good for her and give her more reasons to want to sleep with me.

2. Have More Confidence

Being confident is vital for success. It will help you in relationships and in your career. Confidence is linked to higher income, and it’s a desirable characteristic in potential mates. Speaking from personal experience, having muscles and being strong improves my confidence so I can be a more effective personal trainer and public speaker. During the times in my life when I wasn’t quite as fit and was storing more bodyfat, I didn’t feel confident meeting women or exploring new opportunities.

3. Detract Bullies

I despise bullies. I got picked on quite frequently throughout grade school and even high school, which never sat well with me. I’ve never picked a fight in my entire life for no particular reason other than to dominate another person, and it’s never occurred to me that I could push someone around just because I’m bigger or stronger than them. But this isn’t how bullies operate. They’re in constant search for someone they can manipulate and overshadow. Being muscular, strong, and confident is a good repellent for bullies. They’re more likely to pursue someone else than mess with someone who might be able to whoop their butts if they push things too far. Being confident will also help you better deal with bullies, since you’ll be less likely to give a crap what scummy people think about or do to you.

4. Increased Caloric Intake

I have a confession to make. At around midnight, I turn into a serious food creep. I find myself pacing up and down the kitchen, stalking the cupboards and refrigerator. If I didn’t lift weights, I’d probably look like Jabba the Hutt. I have a voracious appetite, and I have an affinity for particular foods. I probably eat around 5 cheeseburgers per week. I love my cereal. I eat tons of macadamia nuts, yogurt, dried cherries, and dark chocolate. Having extra muscle mass and training intensively allow for markedly greater caloric intake while still being able to look good. I have a lot of wiggle room with my food selection since I regularly consume around 4,000 calories per day. Having a high metabolism makes dieting down much easier when seeking to lean out. And knowing that a big meal is going to be used for replenishment, repair, and fuel for upcoming workouts rather than fat accumulation is very comforting.

5. Look and Feel Athletic

I haven’t played sports in a long time. I’m sure I can’t dunk anymore and I’m probably pretty slow and uncoordinated on the field. But I sure don’t feel that way. I can bust out a heavy full squat and deadlift with perfect form. My hips, shoulders, knees, and back feel healthy. My strength is solid. If need-be, I can carry heavy things from one place to the next. If I prioritized my athleticism for two months by incorporating plyos, sprints, agility drills, and skill work, I could dramatically improve since I’ve always kept a large base of strength. This knowledge sits well with me, as I don’t like feeling like I’m over the hill. When I’m out and about, people often ask me what sport I play, which is good for the ego. I don’t quite perform like an athlete, but lifting weights helps me look and feel like one.

6. Combat Middle-Aged Syndrome

Even though I’m surrounded by people who are much more ripped and much stronger than me, I’m very proud of my strength and of the way I look. The picture below was taken last week, and I didn’t dehydrate myself or pump up before the picture, nor has the picture been edited in any way. Sure, I could stand to lean out more, but this physique was built with lousy genetics, virtually no cardio, no strict dieting, no performance enhancing drugs, and just progressive strength training 4-5 days per week (around 6 hours of lifting per week). In less than 2 years, I’m going to be 40 years of age. This old man isn’t going down without a fight. I intend on being a badass 50 year old, a badass 60 year old, and a badass 70 year old. 

BC copy

6’4″, 245 lbs, 18% bodyfat, 38 years old


Now you know why I lift weights, but you will have your own reasons for adhering to an exercise routine. In general, people exercise for health-related purposes, functional purposes, and/or aesthetics purposes. What’s great about exercise is that if you train primarily for one purpose, you’ll automatically get the benefits of the other two areas. For example, if you train because you want a better physique, you’ll experience the positive side effects of achieving better health parameters and increased functional performance. If you train primarily for improved health, you’ll wind up with a better physique and a stronger, more capable body. If you train primarily for function, the end result will also entail looking better and possessing improved physiology. Many people take their health and fitness for granted and they don’t appreciate it until it’s too late. If you are currently sedentary, don’t wait to embark upon a progressive exercise regimen, start today and experience all of the positive side effects that accompany it!

You Should Definitely Avoid this Movement

If there’s one movement that I absolutely loathe, it’s the “movement” that attempts to convince readers to avoid certain exercises altogether. I’ve gone to great lengths in past articles to explain how unique lifters are in terms of anatomy and goals. I’ve filmed videos showing people how to gauge how deep they should go in a squat. I’ve written endless articles on exercise variations. I’ve discussed the biomechanical ramifications and pros and cons of certain exercises. And I’ve advised people on how to train around pain or injury. One thing I have never done is written an article telling lifters to never do a particular exercise (well, I wrote an article to mock these types of articles, which I’ll post below, but it was entirely sarcastic).


Recently, this article went viral on Facebook:

5 moves you should avoid at the gym

It advised lifters to avoid deep squats, deadlifts, overhead press, bench press to the chest, and going heavy on any exercise. This created quite the controversy, but this is nothing new. A quick search on Google for exercises you should avoid yielded the following results:

7 “Classic” Exercises You Should Avoid

5 Exercises You Should Never Do

6 Exercise Machines You Should Do Without

Five Body-Weight Exercises You Should Never Do

5 Exercises to Avoid


11 Exercises You Should Never Do

Train Better: 10 Exercise Machines to Avoid

10 Exercise Machines You Must Avoid

Five Exercises You Should Stop Doing… Forever!

10 Gym Exercises to Avoid

5 Most Overrated Exercises You Can Stop Doing

5 Popular Exercises You Should AVOID!

7 terrible exercises you should avoid

The list goes on and on and on and on and on.

Most of these articles are written by well-intentioned people. Perhaps these individuals experienced an injury with one of these exercises, or perhaps they don’t feel them working the muscles thoroughly. My problem with these articles is that they’re often subjective, and they fail to acknowledge the principle of individual differences. Since our anatomy and goals differ, we are naturally going to gravitate more toward some exercises and away from others. Since we’re all different, the exercises we employ will be unique compared to those of the next lifter.

If we listened to all of these articles, there would be no squatting, deadlifting, hip thrusting, bench pressing, military pressing, Olympic lifting, leg extensions, leg curls, leg press, bent over rows, barbell curls, upright rows, behind neck presses and pulldowns, hanging leg raises, pec deck, smith machine exercises, hip abductor/adductor machine exercises, bench dips, jump rope, plyos, crunches, sit ups, elliptical machine, side bends, back extensions, dips, stiff leg deadlift, heavy lifting, seated ab twist machine, shoulder press machine, machine calf raises, shrugs, twisting sit ups, running, box jumps, kipping pull-ups, and ballistic stretching.

In fact, if you were to follow Ryan Lingenfeiser from, you wouldn’t be allowed to do hardly anything, since he has articles advising his readers to:

  1. Avoid the Hip Thrust


    Ryan Lingenfeiser: King of Avoiding Exercises

  2. Avoid Kettlebells
  3. Avoid Overhead press
  4. Avoid Ab wheel rollouts
  5. Avoid Olympic lifts
  6. Avoid Lunges
  7. Avoid Assistance exercises
  8. Avoid Turkish get ups
  9. Avoid Thick bar training
  10. Avoid Rest-ice-compression-elevation
  11. Avoid Leg curls
  12. Avoid Leg extensions
  13. Avoid Cardio machines
  14. Avoid Cardio rest days
  15. Avoid Support gear
  16. Avoid Focusing on the stabilizers
  17. Avoid Resistance bands
  18. Avoid Advanced training techniques
  19. Avoid Wide stances or grips
  20. Avoid Functional training
  21. Avoid Peak contractions
  22. Avoid Suspension training
  23. Avoid Pullovers
  24. Avoid Powerlifting for general training
  25. Avoid Grip training
  26. Avoid Kipping pull-ups
  27. Avoid Periodization
  28. Avoid Cycling
  29. Avoid Yoga
  30. Avoid Rest, ice, compression, and elevation
  31. Avoid the Jefferson lift
  32. Avoid the Floor press
  33. Avoid Lifting too fast

Now, I’m sure you agree with some of these, but I’m also sure that there are exercises that you like that you found mentioned. And that’s the point! We are all unique.

Several years ago, I wrote this article:

The New Rules of Strength Training

Please click on the link, I promise you’ll get a chuckle out of it. In the article, I sought to “out-do” all of these articles by being very over-the-top and outlandish. I sarcastically advised lifters to avoid upright rows, behind the neck lifts, squats, deadlifts, bench presses, military presses, back extensions, reverse hypers, glute ham raises, single leg lifts, hip thrusts, dips, push-ups, seated rows, chin-ups, leg press, bent over rows, dynamic core exercises, strongman exercises, single joint exercises, Olympic lifts and jump squats, and core stability exercises.

If you made it half-way through the article, you’d likely be thinking that I’m off my rocker. But then I clarified things by saying the following:

If you know enough about anatomy, physiology, and strength training, you could make a case for why every exercise in the book should be avoided. Conversely, you could also make a case for why every exercise in the book should be performed.

Without further ado, here are President Contreras’ actual new rules to strength training:

• An exercise is judged by how it is supposed to be performed, not by how the jacktards screw it up.

• If you think lifting weights is dangerous, try being weak. Being weak is dangerous.

• There are no contraindicated exercises, just contraindicated individuals. Learn how your body works and master its mechanics.

• If you can’t perform an exercise properly, don’t do it. If an exercise consistently causes pain, don’t do it. If an exercise consistently injures you, don’t do it.

• Earn the right to perform an exercise. Correct any dysfunction and become qualified with bodyweight before loading up a movement pattern.

• There exists a risk-reward continuum and some exercises are safer than others. It’s up to you to determine where you draw the line. Don’t bitch about your lack of progress or poor joint health as you lie in the bed you made for yourself.

• Exercises performed poorly are dangerous, while exercises performed well are beneficial. If you use shitty form, you’ll hurt yourself. It’s only a matter of time.

• If you display optimal levels of joint mobility, stability, and motor control, you’ll distribute forces much better and be able to tolerate more volume, intensity, and frequency.

• Structural balance is critical. You must strengthen joints in opposing manners to ensure that posture isn’t altered. If your posture erodes due to strength training, it means that you’re a shitty program designer.

• Body tissues adjust to become stronger to resist loading. The body is a living organism that adapts to imposed demands.

• Your training will be based on your needs, your goals, and your liking. Different goals require different training methods. The loftier your goals, the more risk entailed.

• There are two types of stress: eustress and distress. Keep yourself in eustress and you’ll be okay.

• If you believe an exercise will hurt you, it probably will.

• Injuries in the weight room have more to do with poor form and poor programming than the exercise itself. Exercises are tools. You are the carpenter. A good carpenter never blames his tools.

• Rather than drift along with popular trends, it’s more fruitful to learn how the body works, which will allow you to understand the pros and cons of every exercise and make educated decisions in your programming.

At the end of the day, how you train is your call. Whether you play it safe or roll the dice, at least you’re not sitting on the couch. Pain and injuries have a way of teaching you proper form and programming, and having a large arsenal of exercises is important to prevent boredom and habituation and spark further adaptation. In short, keep learnin’ and keep liftin’!

Articles advising lifters to avoid exercises will keep resurfacing over the years. Rather than just accepting the authors’ advice at face value, I recommend learning the basics of biomechanics and experimenting with exercise variations prior to making your decision to abstain from a particular exercise.