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).

Deadlift

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

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 www.RDLFitness.com, you wouldn’t be allowed to do hardly anything, since he has articles advising his readers to:

  1. Avoid the Hip Thrust
    Ryan

    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.

Heavy-Ass-Kettlebell-Swing2

60 Comments

  • Kyle Charlie says:

    Only one I say dont do is behind the neck pressing :p

    • Maureen Houlihan says:

      I am 51 year old women who used to concentrate on machines and lighter weights in the gym until I woke up to the fact that the women who were lifting heavier and concentrating on compound moves were much stronger and ‘hotter’ than me. I recognized that I needed to prepare myself so I hired a trainer to help perfect technique, did web research (thanks Bret), watched demo videos etc. Although it would be obvious to most seasoned lifters, I had no idea that I wouldn’t going to be able to deep squat without first spending time increasing by hip and calf flexibility. My point is that if you do research, seek expert advice, progress at an appropriate rate etc the majority of exercises are safe and effective. Of course some people need the instruction “for external use only” on their shampoo bottle so perhaps prefacing Ryan’s list with “don’t proceed with heavy weight without knowing proper technique” is warranted.

  • Right on Bret. I’ve been purposely AVOIDING that article (despite numerous people sending me the link) because the asshat who wrote it doesn’t deserve my click (nor the traffic I’d send his way).

    As always, fantastic perspective and I wish more fitness professionals would follow your lead.

  • Fred Peterson says:

    That fool has the audacity to say avoid overhead pressing and floor pressing but goes on to say the bench press is safe but if you actually read his article it talks about all the reasons why the bench press “should” be avoided.

    derp?

  • christian says:

    First they allowed any average joe to get a cookie cutter personal training qualification online. Now the same knuckle heads have discovered blogging.

    Having a strong social media presence doesn’t make someone an authority on health and fitness or anything for that matter.

    Amoungst other things a certain blogger you mentioned above has openly discredited the importance of triplanar movement when considering appropriate exercise prescription.
    Whilst the educated reader will likely find such suggestions comical, the ignorant general punter is none the wiser and very much susceptible to being exploited (whether deliberatley or not) by these people.

    Practically driven opinions have their place, but advice given in the realms of health and fitness must be evidence based. This doesn’t just mean that because something is covered in a case trial and published in any run of the mil journal that it can be used to validate an opinion or philosophy.

    If I was to provide treatment outside my scope of practice as a health practitioner I would open myself up to a realm of very real legal consequences. Hell.if I even provide a non invasive form of treatment without a sound research paper to validate its use I am.potentially open to legal action. Despite all this, anyone can start a blog and preach whatever they want to an audience much larger than what I would ever consult to.

    Extremely well known personal trainers including one you have had a very public altercation with discuss topics from cardithoracic surgery to immunisation. I have studied for 9 years and counting and still.wouldn’t touch such topics without expert knowledge and experience (neither.of which said “fitness gurus” have)

    I respect your approach to your blog and website and whilst don’t always agree with your philosophy (it’d be unhealthy to agree with100% of what anyone says) appreciated that any topic you raise is done so in a professional, evidence driven manner.

    As the list of health and fitness bloggers increase, my subscriptiom to such followers lessens. Not tyat anyone should give a shit about that though as I am just trying to raise a point. A point I feel must be annoying fellow health professionals more and more.

  • Chuck says:

    Good article Bret. BTW, don’t pay any attention to that Tony guy. He still writes articles about dead lifting instead of important stuff like one arm behind your head curls while standing on a bosu ball.

  • Bob Goldstein says:

    Yeah, fortunately or unfortunately, the default is to believe what you hear/read. It takes a bit more energy to challenge a new idea. So bad ideas can spread way too easily. (See Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow. Highly recommended about how we perceive the world and make decisions.)

    After reading this website and other quality ones, I’ve learned enough to begin to appreciate how much I don’t know. I’m sure half of what I believe is wrong. I’m just trying to figure out which half 🙂

    I’m quite sure, however, that juggling chainsaws on a bosu is contraindicated for me.

    • Bret says:

      I will keep that book in mind Bob. When my PhD is completed, I’m going to be able to do more things I love such as tackling books like these. But for now, it’s blogging to pay the bills and researching to get the degree. Thanks!

    • Gill says:

      “I’ve learned enough to begin to appreciate how much I don’t know. I’m sure half of what I believe is wrong. I’m just trying to figure out which half :-)” thanks for that gem Mr Goldstein! I think most people have to get to a certain age to figure that out 🙂

  • Maggie Collister says:

    You should write an article on why women should avoid hip thrusters….. They cause you to get a booty that men find distracting.
    But yes, all of those articles get old. People don’t need more excuses to not exercise. Thank you for putting out solid info and workouts and for giving me the knowledge to build a nice ass.

    • Bret says:

      Maggie, there is actually a professor/lecturer that told his students to avoid hip thrusts because they overstrengthen the glutes and therefore lead to muscular imbalances and injury. WTF? Glutes can’t be too strong. Glad you liked the article.

  • KW Stout says:

    This article is hilarious, but my question now is what the hell CAN you do according to that guy?!

    Unfortunately the fitness industry is one of the easiest to exploit and bloggers have mastered the craft of clickbait to sucker unsuspecting people who are just trying to improve themselves. It’s really annoying and I’m glad to see them getting called out. Keep up the good work!

    • Bret says:

      He advises people to pick a squat (1 leg or 2 leg), pick a row (1 arm or 2 arm), and bench press. At least I think that’s what he thinks everyone should do. Nothing else though.

  • Dunkman says:

    Excellent as always.

  • Manny Prieto says:

    Nice title – I see what you did there. 😉

    It amazes me how many people continue to speak in absolutes, even when easily disproven.

  • Don says:

    Being tall, I can work with #3 in that first article – “No ma’am, I couldn’t possibly get that item off of the high shelf for you. Just raising my arms over my head I’d be risking impingement of my rotator cuff … add the weight of that soup can and I’d be tempting fate …”

  • Devin Baillie says:

    Don’t know that I can entirely agree with this article. There are a lot of stupid articles out there saying to avoid this or that exercise, definitely. But there are also some really stupid “exercises” being promoted out there that are just plain dangerous. They offer fewer benefits than much safer alternatives, and much higher risk of injury, but some people are promoting them as if they offer significant benefits over the safer alternatives. I think anyone who writes on the subject who cares about their readers’ well-being should absolutely warn them to avoid dangerous exercises.

    You can say “If an exercise consistently causes pain, don’t do it”, but if someone is trying to do deadlifts while standing on an exercise ball (to add instability and therefore build more muscle, of course) there might not be any pain before the catastrophic spinal injury that puts them in a wheelchair for the rest of their life.

    • Bret says:

      I agree Devin. But none of the articles mention deadlifting on a Bosu ball. I think there is definite value in cautioning lifters, but there should be balance. I recall a college football player that broke his neck benching off of a stability ball that popped mid-set! Not worth the risk IMO. And I can also see the case for unsafer variations (do military press instead of bnp), but almost all of the articles are highly subjective and biased.

  • John Finn says:

    We should also avoid misinforming people. That’s what they should care about, this is ridiculous… But as you stated, we can only take benefit from reading their articles and studying to build our own conclusions.

  • Sunny says:

    TL;DR avoid working out.

  • Herbert. says:

    I’m not going to be elaborating on this point but you shouldn’t be strengthening the quadriceps or chest. So Ryan Lingenfeiser has to add heavy squats & bench for exercises that should be avoided. All Athletes need to emphasising stretching those muscle groups, not strengthening (but fill your boots if you want too).

  • Adam says:

    Wow…. that RDLfitness site is a joke right?

  • Cory says:

    It has to be a joke, right? Has anyone verified that this person actually exists? The more I read,the funnier it all seems and I get the feeling that the Onion is getting one over on us. It would take an awful lot of time to put all of those articles together but if its not a hoax its quite laughable to say the least.

  • Rob Panariello says:

    As a physical therapist, ATC, and S&C Professional here are a couple of thoughts to perhaps consider:

    1. Is there really a 100% safe exercise as stress (weight intensity) is needed to be applied to the body to disrupt the homeostasis of the body for adaptation to occur. If unaccustomed levels of stress or “safe” exercise intensities are applied, how will adaptation occur? Wouldn’t we just be wasting time? The application of “unaccustomed” levels of stress that are also applied in the rehab setting for adaptation to take place, one may also ask are rehab exercises dangerous as well?
    2. Research demonstrates that the incidences of injuries that occur in the weight room are far below the level of injury that occurs on the athletic field of play. Should we now ban sport competition as well?
    3. Research also demonstrates that the highest EMG activity will occur in the deep squat position. If we are not going to assume this position to achieve the maximum benefit of the exercise, why perform the exercise? There certainly are high patella-femoral (PF) compressive forces that occur in the deep squat position, however when performing partial or quarter squats, the individual usually lifts much higher intensities when compared to the deep squat position based on the limited knee range of motion. These significantly higher loads in conjunction with the anterior knee displacement often associated with partial squat performance places similar compression forces at the PF joint as the deep squat position with comparative lighter loads. As far as knee ligament injury with the deep squat I published a study in 1994 in the American Journal of Sports Medicine looking at the deep squat exercise performed over 21 weeks with the NFL NY Giants during their off season training. The performance of thousands of squat reps while lifting hundreds of tons of weight over this period of time had no detrimental effect on the knee ligaments of the players involved. We’ve known this for 20 years. As far as the meniscus is concerned certainly the possibly of injury exists but I go back to the weight room studies and low incidence of injury and in my experience I have not had a posterior horn meniscus tear with my athlete squatting. By the way, since deep squatting has been a concern for decades, has anyone ever seen a petition outlawing the catcher’s position in the game of baseball?
    4. The overhead press is one of the safest exercises to perform if applied appropriately. There is a natural timing and relationship that occurs with humeral elevation and scapula movement. I’m often confused about the condemning of the overhead press which allows for this relationship to occur yet there is no opposition to bench pressing or incline pressing which pins the scapula against the bench prohibiting normal scapula movement and thus effecting how this gleno-humeral –scapulo-thoracic relationship should occur
    5. Instead of condemning an exercise, any exercise, why don’t we evaluate to see if the exercise is (a) appropriate for the individual to perform and (b) prepare the individual for the eventual application of the eventual application of high exercise intensities prior to the actual applications of these exercise intensities?
    6. Stop lifting heavy weights? There certainly may be a weight intensity limit however, Is there a risk on the field of play between 2 players with athleticism and skill being similar, at the time a stronger athlete meets a weaker athlete? What about the standards of strength, power, and speed for a particular sport and the athlete does not meet those physical standards, are they then placed at higher risk of injury?

    I wrote an article years ago called “Let’s stop blaming the exercise”. Coaching is an art that is based on science. The knowledge of muscle activity as well as the exercise biomechanics and joint forces that occurs during exercise performance will assist the S&C/fitness professional in the appropriateness of the application of an exercise to an individual, especially one with a history of pathology. If the application of an exercise or the program design implemented is inappropriate for the individual involved in the training, why is that the fault of the exercise? Certainly not every exercise may be appropriate for every individual to perform, and in those unfortunate instances where a rare weight room injury may occur let’s not blame the exercise and perhaps look in the mirror.

    Just my opinion

  • andrew says:

    The author actually referenced Brett in the comments….

    • Bret says:

      I think the author was writing primarily for athletes, but the website made it out to be for everyone. If that’s the case, then I feel bad for him. I can understand where he’s coming from with regards to high level athletes (I don’t agree, but I can understand the argument), but definitely not for all lifters training for strength, hypertrophy, and functional gains.

  • Jason Hommel says:

    As an aging athlete who fell into alcoholism in my 30s, and experienced training injuries… I have come to appreciate a wider range of exercises. Stretching is nirvana. Light weights help recover. Heavy weights build strength and nerves. I like it all!

  • Tobias says:

    Hi Bret,

    this is my first comment on your blog! Started reading it recently and I’m very impressed! Keep up the great work, it’s really informative! I also liked your youtube videos and came across some articles you wrote for t-nation – same impression here: excellent stuff!

    I’d just like to get some random thoughts on some points in the article:

    1) Deep Squats: Instead of discussing the whole knee dilemma, I’d rather shift the point to spinal injuries… How many people are able to perform a save and healthy deep back squat without proper personal coaching? How many trainers are able to teach them properly? And how many people are willing to spend enough time for mobility work and stretching to correct imbalances next to their training? I don’t know the fitness standard for gyms over in the states but if I had to guess for europe the gym standard for this criteria would be very low… So maybe it’s not that kind of a bad idea to advise people to stay away from squats if there is no proper coaching available near them and they are just following a strength template they picked up via internet or e-book manual?
    I totally agree with you, all this stuff doesn’t make the squat a bad exercise, hell it’s a great one if (big if) taught properly and if the person fulfills the needed requirements in terms of built/flexibility…

    2) Deadlift: I don’t see his point… In my eyes the deadlift is the safest total strength lift for most people. Problem would be to many are willing to sacrifice form for total weight. I still think the deadlift is way easier to learn for people than the squat and needs less instruction? You just need to keep your ego in check. And are older people not the ones that would benefit the most from a lift that enhances their skeletal structure and bone density?

    3) Overhead-Press: Seems a little bit more tricky than it seems to be. Especially if we are talking about people with shoulder impingements… Joe De Franco published a pretty interesting article about this topic some years ago.

    4) The Bench is a shoulder-killer… I tend to agree. I still think it’s the best lift to measure upper body pushing strength. So it’s great as long as you go with the powerlifting set up. For someone who is just looking for a chest exercise there are way better alternatives? Still I tend to agree when I see most people benching in the gyms they are doing more harm than good for their health…

    5) Won’t even comment this point. As long as your form is in check I don’t see any point that supports this statement…

    It would be great to hear some thoughts about the points I raised Brad!

    Best regards,

    Tobias

    • nell says:

      “How many people are able to perform a save and healthy deep back squat without proper personal coaching? How many trainers are able to teach them properly? And how many people are willing to spend enough time for mobility work and stretching to correct imbalances next to their training? I don’t know the fitness standard for gyms over in the states but if I had to guess for europe the gym standard for this criteria would be very low… So maybe it’s not that kind of a bad idea to advise people to stay away from squats if there is no proper coaching available near them and they are just following a strength template they picked up via internet or e-book manual?”

      Yeah, I don’t know, I’m actually sympathetic to Mr. Avoid Everything on a lot of points, for this reason. Reading through his blog, it almost sounds like he’s coming from the angle of wanting to mostly stick to movements we’ve evolved to do, and can do spontaneously, without a lot of instruction. The exercises he does advocate (very basic strength moves, stair climbing etc.) are dead simple. They’re hard for the average non-athlete to get wrong. Skilled athletes, pro or not, can probably approach any exercise, but they’ve also probably self-selected into athletics due to at least some natural ability.

      Most people aren’t skilled or gifted athletes, or particularly sensible, especially when they’re hell-bent on losing 40 pounds before Christmas. People want more than they can realistically have, and take on challenges many just aren’t equipped to handle – hence the popularity of programs like Crossfit and Insanity. Those programs may not be bad in themselves, but probably not great for most people (at least, the former program is notorious for injuries, and I think there’s been some discussion about how people who are successful at it were often athletes at some prior point.)

      People working in health and fitness are usually talented at it. For someone like me, who came to it late and was blown away by how much it improved my life on every level, it sucks an unbelievable amount to have come out of the cave and then find themselves unable to do much at all due to injuries. (I’ve got 5 chronic tendon-related things, plus 1 acute thing going at any given time. I have good physiotherapy, and I work at it, and injuries still happen, I just have an unlucky body.) I’m probably a little unusual. But there definitely are people out there with crappy bodies. And a lot of less physiologically unlucky (but ungifted) people in my demographic get hurt at some time or other – often, too soon to learn enough to work around it and let themselves heal properly. Which is a huge shame. Fitness is too important for overall health (down to dementia prevention, and I don’t need to mention the obesity epidemic) to have it cut off or dramatically modified in early or mid life.

      The flip side of “don’t blame the exercise” is “blame the ignorant masses for screwing things up”. The problem with that idea is it’s not realistic. There is never going to be a perfect world where people aren’t blinded by the desire to wear bikinis or get massive guns, where they all have the critical awareness and knowledge and money for/access to expert assistance to do some of the kookier (but effective for the right person) things out there safely.

      So I think a conservative element out there might be a good thing. Maximizing benefit within the constraints of risk makes sense from a public health perspective. I guess the real argument is, how much risk is there, really – but this is a question that research can answer, and the answers depend on whose risk you’re asking about.

      I mean, I can see why people aren’t following his blog (if they’re not), he is kind of a buzzkill.

      • nell says:

        (Note: I’m not thinking of the hip thrust when I think of “kookier exercises”.)

        • nell says:

          Last post from me – I do want to say, Bret, that I’ve been following your blog on and off for a while, and I’ve never known you to be anything but responsible about teaching movements and progression, much more so than a lot of fitness people online.

          (I don’t know how you feel about all of his points, but I do agree with the other guy about bikes and ellipticals, which from my mostly uninformed point of view simply *are* awkward, much weirder than walking or stairs; and split squats, which *do* feel more stable than lunges; and yoga, because so many of its devotees (women) are already hypermobile and it’s probably last on the list of things they should spend their time on. I guess I appreciate his caution, and wish there were more of it around.)

          • Adam P says:

            But than why writing an article on things and not telling the truth? Don’t write an article about avoiding squats but write an article about how to work towards good form and how to recognise mistakes. Lying is never the good way. I’d say everyone should know why are they doing an exercise and why they would want to do it if they can’t perform them (yet) and what they should do instead. I found this article because I searched for the notorious RDL guy. As he stands now all he can do is to “help” people to build bodies on fear.

  • I’m just laughing because I came across RDLfitness’ hip thrust article the other day too. I would *love* to see a rebuttal :).

  • John D. says:

    Bret, as I went through his list of exercises to be banned, I thought, “Why not just screw it all and sit on the couch then?” I didn’t read the article, as I didn’t want to benefit his web hit numbers, but from that list I couldn’t imagine what he actually would recommend. I had to laugh at the initials RDL for the guy. I imagine he forbids the Romanian Deadlift too! I love your stuff both on Facebook and T-Nation. I read a lot of things from people who have actually succeeded in their field, especially powerlifting.

  • Keats says:

    There you go again Bret, trying to talk reason and common sense into people. Mel Siff would be happy! This article reminds me of the great info in his Facts and Fallacies of Fitness book!

  • Judit says:

    Well said Bret. Thank you for your intelligent article as always. Also love love love your no bullshit attitude!

  • Jini Cicero says:

    Andreo Spina, PT, whose work I admire a lot, put it best:

    “There is no such thing as a bad exercise or movement, there is only those who are ill-prepared to do them.”

  • Anthony says:

    !. My observation over 40+ years of working out is that the majority of people I have witnessed in gyms do not know how nor why to do most exercises with anything approaching correct alignment and/or range of motion.
    2. I am always suspicious of “experts” who allow their “advice” to be illustrated with stock photos that also exhibit dubious form.
    3. My few gym injuries have always been the fault of ego demanding I stick with my lifting plan when I in fact needed more rest or more pre/re-hab or correctly applied mobility/flexibility work.
    4. Other factors such as poor diet (including mineral status), dehydration, lack of concentration, and lack of fine motor control and good posture are often overlooked causes of injury. It’s easier to make the exercise wrong.

  • Inge Johansson says:

    Hey Bert.
    The article on Olympic Weightlifting. Is the worst article I read.
    50 years of experience and in-depth knowledge of Olympic weightlifting at the world level. Ock great experience if functional lifting exercises on the elite practitioners in a wide range of sports.
    Best regards
    Inge Johansson

  • Kellen Chase says:

    You are a clever boy Bret. 😉 I read the title of this article, did a face palm, and then read on giving you the benefit of the doubt and I am glad I did.

  • Samantha says:

    Wow! Maybe we should avoid exercise altogether….. Hmmm.

  • HIIT IS THE ONE TRUE WAY says:

    THERE IS ONE PROPHET AND HIS NAME IS MIKE MENTZER. EVERYTHING ELSE IS HERESY.

    I think that’s what the RDL guy is saying basically….

  • Sarah says:

    I may have to re-post one of these nuggets every day for the rest of the month. Great article.

  • Liz says:

    Oh my goodness, I read the Ryan Lingenfeiser article on Avoid Yoga and good Lord…what a goof and a moron! Bret, thanks for passing on this guy’s wisdom (cough, cough). Great jokes like what he wrote up produced a great laugh!

    And thank you, thank you for telling the world about the hip thrust (including me). It’s partially why I’ll be entering 2015 with a far nicer rear view than I entered into 2014 with! 😀

  • Renato says:

    Ryan makes his clients do few exercises what I read about it.
    Squats bench press a row exercise..

    But the first two are known for having caused problems to many as well.
    So , there isn’t an exercise that can be a problem for someone.
    How many did have back pains, or hip pain due to doing squats.
    Enough.

    He is against the ab wheel.
    An exercise I consider the best I have ever done for my abs.
    Just make sure you stretch the illiopsoas eand the recus femoris after each session.
    To prevent hip tension/lordosis.

    Pullover I have done for at least 15 years.

    In my opinion, most important is the form and the amount of weight you use in a given exercise.
    Lifting huge amounts of weights for many years does have a risk in itself, of damaging the cartilage in the joints.

    Some get away with it.
    Lou Ferrigno , Ronnie Coleman and many others did not.

    Just use common sense .

  • Renato says:

    The problem with the internet …., everybody is an ‘expert’.

    Then again, it’s not that all scientists are in total agreement either.
    So you have to find your own way in what works best for you.
    Ryan cannot tell you that.
    Giiven the fact that many exercises he tells you to avoid works for many bodybuilders and fitness enthousiast and bodybuilders from the past. Who is het to tell them it is going to cause them problems.

    Scooby (yes THE Scooby from youtube), does his dumbbell flyes and presses lying on the ground.
    It obviously works for him.

    Many ways lead to Rome

  • Renato says:

    But to be fair… the pullover does give me problems in the left shoulder lately(ugh).
    And I’m gonna drop this one out of my workout.
    Some others might never have a problem with the pullover though.

    There are exercises carrying more risks than others.
    And Ryan’s words do have their place I think.
    Even if it’s only just to think of some possible dangers of some exercises.
    Not that you have to quit doing them.
    But a warned person counts for two.

    • Renato says:

      Little update on the pullover.

      Doing the pullover with two dumbbells , in a parallel grip(palms facing eachother), shoulder width apart,or little wider , doesn’t seem to give me problems in the shoulder…

      Just saying for the people that might have had some issues with the barbell pullover or classic 1 dumbbell pullover.
      Trying another variation might solve the problem , and is a better solution than deleting the whole exercise in my opinion.

      Cheers.
      🙂

  • Darren says:

    Well, I read quiet a bit of the RDL web site, and to be fair, a lot of what he says would be applicable to the vast majority of the gym going public. Most of his suggestions do highlight the risk of injury, especially shearing forces, associated with a number of exercises – and rightly so.

    The general public are not usually versed in best practices and very few are conditioned by professional coaches. So much of what he say’s isn’t really so bad.

    Olympic lifts – pretty much spot on really – unless you’re an olympic lifter who practices these movements day in day out. But for Joe Blogs? They do more harm than good.

    OH pressing – fine if you have great posture and can press without any difficulties. But if you have strength imbalances AC restriction or, well, a tendency towards upper/lower cross syndrome – like pretty much most of the gym going public – then it’s a no.

    I do agree with him that most isolation exercises do more harm than good, and can actually create strength imbalances. etc…

    For me personally, I would take the back squat over the deadlift, simply because of the differences between compression and shearing forces. And I do think that weighted unilateral work is overrated.

    LOL! And who mentioned BB’ers, who swear by certain exercises, so they must be fine? Fact of life, most BB’ers are roided up to high heaven, so using them as an example for anything means all bets are off.

    I think as blogs go, RDLfitness does do any better or any worse than most of those out there.

    To be fair, it can be a bit of a mine field for the average Joe to find any decent advice and know when they have or what to do with it. I’be been training for over 30 years, qualified in sports science, sports therapy and strength and conditioning, and even for someone like me it’s still difficult to wade through and descern the good from the bad, especially when things are backed up with so called empirical evidence.

    Okay, so he does dismiss an awful lot of stuff, not least Bret’s hip thrusts, of which I do kind of agree with him on. Although I do agree with Bret about the necessity to train horizontal force vectors to increase sprint speed, I just don’t think that hip thrusts carry over to sprint mechanics better than say KB swings and horizontal plyo’s.

    But hey, he’s just offering advice like everyone else on the net. Some of it is baloney and some of it is plausible. But the way I saw it is that it was aimed more towards the general public than the professional sportsman, who has access to maybe a decent strength coach.

    • Renato says:

      “Okay, so he does dismiss an awful lot of stuff, not least Bret’s hip thrusts, of which I do kind of agree with him on. Although I do agree with Bret about the necessity to train horizontal force vectors to increase sprint speed, I just don’t think that hip thrusts carry over to sprint mechanics better than say KB swings and horizontal plyo’s. ”

      When you look at the hip thrust exercise. The barbell positioned on the lower body..
      pressuring down on the spine.
      It actually doesn’t look like it is safe when you start do that with heavy weights.
      The margin for error is large in this exercise I think.

      I have seen Usain Bolt Doing the standing version , single leg with a machine(maybe he does the barbell hip thrust as well I don’t know).
      In that standing way it doesn’t tax the lower back as in the horizontal version having a heavy barbell on your lower abs.

      This reminds me a bit of the neck harness exercise.
      It is great to build/strengthen the muscles of the neck.
      But the vertebrae in the neck are not so happy with this exercise.
      I have done both exercises for longer periods. The neck extension/flexion, and the barbell hip thrust.
      They have some similarities.

      An exercise can be great for a certain muscle.
      But the joints can be another story.

  • Timothy Kruschwitz says:

    I was laughing hard when I was ready the ” king of avoiding exercise”! lol When I switched from machine weight exercises to body weight exercises like chin ups, pull ups and inverted rows, it has made huge differences for my physique. My over all physical health has improved since I changed my fitness plan. Before that time I was having off and on back problems and I was seeing the physical therapist off and on for solutions to my ailing back. After months of not being able to do any challenging workouts , I was getting frustrated and depressed. I thought I was going downhill. Fortunately, as the exercise routine changed so did my back health. I am a lot stronger now and enjoying life again. All for the exercises Ryan what’s his name is telling me not to do!

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