Debunking Exercise Myths: Part 1
Written on April 11, 2005 at 2:34 pm, by Eric Cressey
We live in a society that doesn’t want gray areas. People want right or wrong, up or down, and left or right. This mindset carries over to the gym, too; lifters want to be able to say that Exercise A is evil, and Exercise B is safe.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple, so with that in mind, I’m devoting this article to killing off some myths, establishing some more well-defined gray areas, and making recommendations on who can do what.
I’m going to come right out and say it: in the absence of musculoskeletal pathology, no movement is fundamentally bad. Sure, there are exercises like kickbacks and leg extensions that don’t give you as much bang for your buck as their multi-joint counterparts (e.g. dips and squats), but that’s not to say that these pansy exercises are “bad” for you. Likewise, it’s rare that I write any sort of machine lift into my programming, but there are rehabilitation patients that benefit greatly from certain machine training.
In my opinion, there are only five scenarios in which exercise is ever truly bad for you from a health standpoint:
1. When that exercise is performed in excessive volume.
2. When that exercise is performed with poor technique.
3. When that exercise is performed in a manner that puts it out of balance with the rest of the programming that is in place.
4. When that exercise irritates an existing injury or condition.
5. When that exercise is performed with excessive loading (relative to the lifter’s capabilities).
Now, it’s not feasible for me to outline every specific instance where every exercise is safe or unsafe, but I can address some common adages we frequently hear in our gyms.