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13 Terrifying Gym Exercises & The Horrific Injuries They Cause! October 31, 2010

Posted by fitmontclair in Fitness, Group Exercise, Health & Exercise, Injury Prevention, Montclair, Women's Health.
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I love Halloween and horror movies in general; being scared is fun – BUT NOT in the gym! I find most commercial gyms to be some of the scariest places around! Where else can people lay down good money and be given free reign to torture their spines, joints, and muscles on equipment that would excite the Marquis De Sade!

The Marquis would love to be a 21st century trainer!

The Medieval torture rack


Anyone else notice a similarity here? ….



To compound the matter the latest attractions have people accelerating themselves and objects with reckless abandon – Remember “Speed Kills!” (F=MA).

While I love REAL weightlifting, kettlebells, and all the new body weight toys – They are NOT for everyone! True strength training takes a SKILLED expert to teach! A REAL trainer or coach needs to have an understanding of anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, and kinesiolgy at the same level of a doctor or physical therapist if NOT GREATER! Think about it this way, who puts the greatest loads on your spine & joints; Coaches & Trainers! NO other health professional keeps increasing the load on your body in the same manner, often to double and triple body weight in movements like the: Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, Snatch, and Clean & Jerk. You think little “Timmy” the college student or that “nice girl” who also teaches the “Zumba” class has the knowledge, skill, and experience to teach true weight training ?

NOT the guy I want coaching & spotting me on double body weight lifts (but he does have his certification card)












Just because someone says they are certified, does NOT mean they are and most certifications MEAN NOTHING!! Of the over 400 training certifications only about 5 require a college degree and have some form of hands-on practical training & testing! If I EVER told the truth of what went on when I was Fitness Director of the areas largest gym – you would all be shocked and probably calling your attorneys! (Those stories are TOO terrifying even for my blog!)

On to our main topic; which will prove everything I just said for no truly skilled expert gives any of these exercises unless they are looking to increase their referrals to local doctors and physical therapists!

So without further adieu (in no particular order) “13 Terrifying exercises that wreck havoc on you and tear your body to bloody pieces “– HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

The Seated Leg Extension –  This machine creates a damaging shear force on the connective tissues of the knee. It causes a contraction of the quadriceps muscles in the thigh WITHOUT a co-contraction of the hamstrings & calves to protect the knee. The damage becomes apparent later during sports or activities of daily living when a person tries to move quickly in a different direction and tears a knee ligament which was damaged due to the leg extension.

The Tricep “Bench” Dip – Places extreme stress on the acromioclavicular joint of the shoulder as well as the elbows. Can lead to shoulder impingement, rotator cuff tears, joint sprains, bursitis and tendinitis. Really hard on anyone who has forward head posture or a history of shoulder pain!

The Upright Barbell Row – TERRIBLE for shoulder health! It places the hands in maximum pronation & the shoulders at maximum internal rotation under load! – This position drives the humerus bone forward pinching the bicep tendon and compressing the shoulder bursa = tendinitis & bursitis and makes bad posture worse!

The Smith Machine Squat – In my opinion one of the MOST USELESS exercises EVER!! It is an ego machine and nothing more! (you can lift more weight because NO balance or stability of the body and the weights is required). What the machine really does is shift your center of mass and places excess shear stress on the knee ligaments due to decreased activation of the hamstrings (which protects the knee in REAL squats and sports!) Ladies the leaning back variation with the feet close and out in front of you  &  the ballet style “Plie'” variations DO EVEN MORE DAMAGE to the neck & knees! – Who cares if you feel it in your butt more with your feet close together and out in front of your body – What good is your butt if you DESTROY YOUR KNEES!!

REAL Men & Women DON”T squat in the Smith Machine !

The Round Back Deadlift and Round Back Barbell Rows – Keep lifting like this ONLY if your goal is to meet a spinal surgeon in person! The rounded back stresses the spine incorrectly from the neck to pelvis and is a frequent cause of:  sciatic pain, bulging discs, disc herniations,  ligament sprains, and eventual disc rupture and surgery! You need to maintain proper cervical & lumbar curves or YOU WILL GET INJURED!

The 45 degree Leg Press- This machine is cited in more injury lawsuits against gyms than any other! Because it allows the use of extremely heavy weights but with BAD form! The poor form used has the head forward & butt off the seat (look at the picture). This places extreme stress at the neck & lower back. It is NON-functional training for you never encounter that position in daily life under load! Another ego machine to avoid!

The Behind the neck Barbell Press and Lat Pulldowns behind the head – 2 old school exercises that are useless and dangerous. No occupation or sport requires you to pull a vertical load behind your head!  Notice the only way MOST people can get the bar behind the head is by forcing the head & neck forward – stressing and damaging the cervical discs and nerves. You also injure the rotator cuff by forcing internal shoulder rotation under load when you lean forward. Years ago many great lifters could do the behind the head press with no injury but that was before computers and the HORRIBLE  forward head posture plaguing society! The pulldown is bio-mechanically INCORRECT; it is 180 degrees out of phase of the NORMAL human motion of the pull-up! (They are NOT the same!). Pulldowns were invented when we became too WEAK & LAZY to do pullups!

Squat to 90 degrees (thigh parallel to floor)- A true test of how little someone understands anatomy. The most unstable angle for the knee is at 90 degrees! This is where the ligaments are stressed the most (when you injure your knee the doctor has you sit and bend it to 90 degrees to test the laxity of the ligaments – look up the  “Anterior Drawer Test” if you don’t believe me!) Going below parallel engages the hamstrings to help stabilize the knee and the surface area of the knee increase as you go deeper. Stopping at 90 is a great way to injure your knees and under develop your hamstrings & glutes!

Lunges (or squats or step ups) with knees caving in (valgus collapse) – Knees caving in on ANY exercise is a guaranteed invitation to pain and possible surgery. It is a myth that knees are NOT supposed to go past the toes that is normal human biomechanics, just watch someone walk up a flight of stairs or a do a proper squat. WHAT CAUSES THE INJURIES IS KNEES COMING TOGETHER, i.e. KNEES DROPPING INSIDE THE BIG TOE!

Crunches on the floor (or with feet on a physioball) – Floor crunches lead to an immobile spine, forward head posture (especially if you pull on your neck like the “genius”  in the picture), neck pain, back pain, and headaches. Your spine is only meant to flex 30 degrees forward, but up to 40 degrees backward (but you can’t get that motion lying on the floor!) The physioball is a tool that can provide the proper range of motion if you LIE ON TOP OF THE BALL! Placing your legs on the ball is backwards thinking! It is like standing on your head in the TOILET-  you are using the wrong end! The ball is supposed to be used to create spinal extension and full range of motion. [Not that everyone should be doing crunches – especially loaded with weight. The ball can be a tool for flexibility for the back & spine]

Dumbbell Lateral Raise with “Pouring water technique” – A purely cosmetic non-functional (in my opinion useless) exercise that is made into a shoulder “wrecker” by adding the stupid “make like your pouring 2 pitchers of water technique” (see the dumbbell positions in the photos – notice how they tilt down and in like “pouring a pitcher”). This moronic technique places the shoulders once again in internal rotation with hands pronated leading to the humerus slamming in to the acromion and stressing all the tendons & bursa resulting in tendinitis, bursitis, and rotator cuff damage!

Using a weightlifting belt for any exercise (unless you are a professional strongman or Powerlifter) – Belts DO NOT & CANNOT protect your spine from injury – read my blog post on the subject for the details.  Belts disrupt: core function, coordination, the transfer of strength & power from the legs to the torso, and make the user falsely dependent on them. Any coach or trainer that has young athletes train with belts (unless they are competing in weightlifting as a sport) should be considered for child abuse charges; for when they go out on the field or court with no belt, THEY ARE NOW EXTREMELY SUSCEPTIBLE to serious injuries! Because the kids learned how to be strong ONLY with a belt! There are NO weight belts on ANY sports uniform except weightlifting – My rule: “Never let anyone who paints houses in the summer coach youth sports during the school year!”

IMPROPER Kettlebell swings – Kettlebells require proper training and is a unique skill that needs to be taught by a properly certified instructor. The idea that people just can pick them up in the gym and use them is NUTS!  The swing is one of the fundamental movements; the bell NEVER goes overhead in the swing exercise, elbows should not bend, and the back must not round! The people in the pictures are destined for: neck, shoulder, and back injuries if they don’t learn the correct way soon!

The SCARIEST Halloween costume ever! More terrifying than Freddy, Jason, and Michael Myers all rolled into one!

And the SCARIEST thing of all; when you see these horrific exercises being taught there is usually someone with a shirt that say’s “TRAINER” providing the instruction! If you see a “Trainer” giving these exercises to anyone to quote Geena Davis from the remake of  “The Fly” – BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID!!

I hope you all had a GREAT Halloween and that I didn’t scare you too much…

See you in the Emergency Room!


P.S. Those that wish to avoid an Emergency Room visit should come to my FREE  “Weights 101 ” workshop – Watch for details soon!



1. Mary - January 18, 2011

I appreciate your insight and knowledge! Thank YOU for speaking UP!!! I personally train, on the side, still feel ignorant in so so many ways! This is not what my college degree is in… Although, will continue to study and learn the human body, and its beatiful dynamics. Find out the facts research study…it helps to have honest sources! I refuse, to use my clients, as “Dummies” or test “Rats” ect… This goes against ALL, that I believe in, and hope to continue to live by, ALWAYS! I do see so many trainers, in and out of gyms “leading & teaching” clients in directions which don’t make sense and compromise/stress one’s joints in so many wrong ways! Many times, not even watching/paying attention AT ALL to their form/positioning, NOT EVEN CLOSE to right…ect. I myself do NOT, train out of local gyms because, it seems there are NO rules/regulations therefore, NO protection for the client…it seems backwards and warped just to make the mighty dollar, which the gym makes most of…all at the expense of people just trying to GET in shape or become healthier…it frightening to think what they are instructed to eat or not eat…gosh the CRAZY supplements they sell them on… ect… ): Okay sorry for going on and on! Gosh, I hope/pray this year is better for all…I believe it will be…hopeaholic! Love the Jets 2! Not really into wishing others 2 B injured but, hey that’s the game, sports…got 2 LOVE it! (:

fitmontclair - January 21, 2011

Hi Mary,

Sorry it took a day or so to reply but I was a little busy. Thanks for reading the blog, I hope to be back to regular updates soon.

Don’t worry about not having studied exercise science in college, yes it did give me a good understanding of anatomy & cellular physiology – IT TAUGHT ME NOTHING ABOUT TRAINING!! I learned that all from mentors, workshops &courses, and reading.

Just find people smarter & more experienced than you and learn from them (that’s what I do) – My personal favorites are: Paul Chek, Gray Cook, Mike Boyle, Charles Poliquin, Nick Tumminello, Alwyn Cosgrove, Dan john and many others.

Yes, commercial gyms ONLY care about profit and often (too often) the workouts & information are terrible.

You sound like you are on the right track, just follow your instincts and ask questions.

Feel free to pass on my blog to anyone you think can benefit from it – you might also like the posts on: Bootcamps, spinning, and the EMS devices as well as the multi-part abdominal myths series.

Here is a link to my article database for my magazine & newsletter articles: http://advanced-fitness-concepts.com/articles/

Have a great day and feel free to ask me any questions!


2. tonto murphy - October 5, 2011

thats a very poor article,nearly all those exercises can be done safely if you know what youre doing,not the best options but not necessarily dangerous either.For example,the leg press and extension builsd strength and muscle in the quads ,thats beneficial to anyone,if it does that its functional.Free squats and lunges are better but the first 2 are neither useless nor dangerous if done properly.If you learned nothing during an exercise science degree then I dont know what you were doing.I learned more in my 4 yrs than any personal trainer ive ever seen and twice as much again since then.From the articles you post here its hard believe you ever saw a college.

fitmontclair - October 6, 2011


To be fair, I posted your RUDE and INSULTING comment with no edits. Your other 2 comments were fine and I replied to them with further information that I hope was useful and clarified my view points.



With this post I seem to have hit a “nerve” by picking out exercises that you like and feel you must defend, but rather then defend them in a civilized, EDUCATED manner you resort to childish insults indicating to me you feel threatened, have limited knowledge, and absolutely no manners or training in etiquette.

Can some of the exercises be MODIFIED to be safer and not cause injury, “YES” – HOWEVER not all can and the average commercial gym goer (this blog’s main audience) does NOT have the education and skill to do so in most cases. They believe these exercises to be safe and effective when many are destructive and provide minimal results.

I did not learn much about correct exercise form & technique in my degree programs but in BOTH undergraduate & graduate university degrees I learned: anatomy, physiology, exercise physiology, biochemistry, kinesiology, biomechanics, sports medicine and many other topics – I will be happy to send you my transcripts showing that I NEVER GOT LOWER THAN AN “A” IN ANY EXERCISE SCIENCE CLASS AND GRADUATED WITH HONORS ! I learned proper manners, etiquette, and humility from my parents – obviously you learned how to be rude, obnoxious, and insecure from yours!

I supplemented my degrees by learning correct exercise form, technique and program design through the top certifications in the industry (NSCA, NASM, CHEK, USAW, FMS and several others) along with attending numerous lectures, workshops, and seminars as well as working as Fitness Director for the areas largest gym for over 6 years.

Oh, and your statement about the leg press & leg extension being functional because they build muscle is absurd and amateurish at best! Even if you correct a person’s form and they have no pain or injury due to the exercises THEY ARE NOT FUNCTIONAL!

Functional means: maintaining and /or improving normal movement, range of motion, balance & coordination WITH NO EXTERNAL SUPPORT i.e upright and three-dimensional (NO machines!). If you prefer a more scientific definition, functional training can be defined as a person’s “ability to maintain the instantaneous joint axis of rotation in any relative space-time combination” (when you use a one dimensional fixed axis machine your body must work around the axis of the machine and you negate the three-dimensional components of balance and joint stability which are necessary in all upright activities and compose most activities of daily living & sports movements)

By your definition -The ability of an exercise to add muscle mass – would make bodybuilders the MOST FUNCTIONAL PEOPLE / ATHLETES on the planet – have you ever seen a bodybuilder move or try to play a sport? NOT TOO FUNCTIONAL!

Just because an exercise adds muscle DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY MEAN an improvement in function; especially if it is learned in A SEATED POSITION THAT DOES NOT REQUIRE ANY: Balance, coordination, agility, flexibility or speed! Do you even know what the 8 relevant bio-motor abilities that must be addressed in program design & exercise selection are?

I suggest you spend less time reading blogs and commenting on subjects that you obviously don’t fully understand and read some relevant literature on Functional Training & conditioning. Here are 3 great books for you to check out:

Movement – Functional Movement Systems: Screening, Assessment, Corrective Strategies – Gray Cook, MSPT,OCS,CSCS

Power Training for Sport – Tudor Bompa, PhD

Motor Learning and Performance – Dr. Richard A. Schmidt

You criticize my writing, yet your replies provide no form of EDUCATED REBUTTAL, just inane, immature comments and opinions. Your writing in the comments is terrible, barely understandable, and provides no useful information for the blog readers. What do I write? In addition to my blog (which are my opinions, NOT a science or medical journal) I write columns for two international fitness magazines and for a medical newsletter (for which I must provide scientific references)

Article Database

The comment section is for: asking of questions, clarification of issues, presenting alternate views, and obtaining further information NOT for bickering, insults, and name calling. I will not let the blog be degraded to a high school level forum of useless asinine chatter!

Of the 21,730 views of my blog you are the only one to present themselves in such an illiterate, inerudite, and uncultured manner! In science & academics we know that N= 1 is NOT a valid subject pool.

In closing, I thank you for reading & commenting although I wish you had the intelligence and maturity to have an adult discussion. PLEASE DO NOT COMMENT FURTHER ON ANY TOPIC, FOR THEY WILL REMAIN UNPOSTED AND BE DELETED!

I will not subjugate my readers to anymore of your adolescent behavior.


3. Nootropics - April 14, 2012

Very interesting info!Perfect just what I was searching for!

4. Fenway - June 12, 2012

You are a complete idiot. Are you trying to scare people out of working out? And not using a belt when doing deep squats can lead to serious lumbar injuries. You are a bigger nutcase than most “fitness” gurus. layoff the steroids punk

fitmontclair - June 13, 2012

Obviously if you read any of my other posts, the references, source materials and then examined my education, certifications,and 13+ years of experience you would not be asking that question for it would be extremely apparent I am far from an idiot; possibly you are having trouble because you need someone to read my posts to you and help you with the “big” words and try to explain some of the advanced concepts to you.

Am I trying to scare people from working out, NO!
I am trying to protect them from injury by avoiding useless and potentially dangerous exercises! Since you are only the second person to disagree in over 1,100 viewings of this blog post it is obvious the concepts of REAL exercise, biomechanics, and kinesiology are beyond your comprehension – that’s o.k. the world has plenty of menial labor, low I.Q. jobs for you!

Your statement about weightlifting belts, the squat, and lumbar injuries tells me you have not even a basic understanding of functional anatomy, lumbar mechanics, and exercise physiology.
It as this at this point
in many of my posts and in the comments section I provide scientific & medical references alongside real world empirical use & observations to help clarify issues, as well as answer questions and engage in intellectual debates but my efforts would be wasted on you. I would love to engage you in a “battle of wits & intelligence” but you are obviously unarmed and it would be cruel for me to embarrass you.

I will give you one tip – watch the Olympic weightlifting this summer and you will see a MAJORITY of the lifters DO NOT wear a belt, and these athletes squat and press overhead daily as part of their training and they have few if any lumbar injuries!

To be fair I posted your reply unedited, BUT please DO NOT reply or comment on anything else in my blog for I will NOT waste my time or the readers time with your rude, low class, juvenile behavior. (I have marked your email & IP address so anything coming from your computer will be flagged and discarded.)

Good luck and when you get injured by doing dangerous exercises or hurt your back by using a belt please think of me (laughing at you!)


fitmontclair - August 2, 2012

Hey Jackass Idiot! (Fenway how do like being insulted in the greeting from someone you don’t even know…)

Just following up my previous reply to your asinine comment. If you watched any of the Olympic weightlifting yesterday you saw the results of the Women’s 63kg class but just in case you missed it or couldn’t understand the lifts here are the results:

Maiya Maneza – 63kg Class GOLD MEDAL, sets Olympic record in total weight lifted, ties Olympic record in Clean & Jerk!!! (135kg)

AND she DOES NOT, repeat DOES NOT WEAR a weightlifting BELT!!!

Funny that the athletes she BEAT from: Russia, Canada, and Turkey ALL WORE BELTS!!!

That is a PROPERLY functioning, STRONG CORE!!! Her coaches & trainers KNOW what they are doing – (UNLIKE YOU!!!)

In watching more of the London 2012 weightlifting I also found:

Women’s 53kg Gold Medal & Olympic record went to Zulfiya ChinshanloNO BELT!!!!

Men’s 56kg Gold Medal & Olympic record went to Om Yun Chol
– NO BELT!!!

Men’s 62kg Gold Medal & World Record to Kim Un Guk – NO BELT!!!!

I am sure there will be more to follow, anything to say now or can’t you speak with your foot in your mouth..
. (or is because your head is up your A$S!!!)

fitmontclair - June 30, 2013

Hey Fenway IDIOT!!

Here is a 2013 article from T-nation where world class performance trainer & powerlifter Mike Robertson agrees with everything in my post about using a lifting belt. He is also joined by other top trainers: Tim Henriques, Dan Trink, and Todd Bumgardner all who echo my thoughts on using a lifting belt – The only difference being I MY WROTE BLOG ARTICLE IN 2010!! Guess I am ahead of the curve (as usual…) Read and weep jackass!!


fitmontclair - November 23, 2013


If you can put down your coloring books here is another good article on spinal mechanics. Now I know it has “big” words and complex terms like: Newtons, shear, compression, thoraco-lumbar junction, femoral glide syndrome, and protective tension. If you can’t find someone to read the article to you, just do what you normally do with your storybooks – LOOK at the pictures (actually videos) and note NONE OF THEM USE A BELT!! None of the coaches, doctors or therapists quoted in the article RECOMMEND OR EVEN SUGGEST USING A BELT!!! Protection of the spine during heavy squats & deadlifts is achieved by learning PROPER BIOMECHANICS !!!

Have another sleepless night moron!!!


P.S. Fenway, I keep adding more articles & evidence of why NOT to use a belt for the hundreds blog readers who still read this article EVERY MONTH, NOT YOU! I want people to understand that unless you train to COMPETE in weightlifting, you SHOULD NEVER USE a belt and for them to have information on what to do instead to properly protect their spines. I want you to train heavy WITH A BELT SO YOUR INJURIES COME FASTER!!

5. Joel - June 28, 2012

Hi. I Was wondering….. what kind of leg workout would you recommend to build mass without serious risk of injury?
At the moment I am doing a few exercises that are on this list. If there are safer alternatives (which are effective) I would probably be better off switching exercises.
My leg workout currently consists of
– Squats
– Lunges
– Lying Leg Curls
– Leg Extensions
– Leg Press
– Calf Raises
If you could suggest some exercises to replace the dangerous ones it would be very much appreciated 🙂 .

fitmontclair - June 29, 2012

Hi Joel,

Thanks so much for reading my blog and taking time to comment. I will try give you some help but please understand that with out a complete assessment and health & injury history I cannot provide an exact program – that would be like a doctor trying to do surgery over the phone and with no examination. Any one who provides a training program without an assessment & health history IS GUESSING with your safety; guessing is RECKLESS, DANGEROUS, and UNPROFESSIONAL!!!

With that being said here is some info that could help you with your legs. Please note for ALL the readers of the blog this information is for EDUCATION ONLY AND IS NO FORM OF MEDICAL ADVICE, TREATMENT, ASSESSMENT, PHYSICAL THERAPY, PERSONAL TRAINING OR COACHING !!

I am going to assume you are healthy, uninjured, and have at least 1 year of consistent weight training experience. Your goal is increasing leg mass and not specifically strength or power, although you will get some of each – just remember the biggest guys (and girls) are NOT always the strongest!

I find that a variety of mulit-joint compound exercises work best, a few isolation movements are ok BUT they should come after the larger free weight exercises. Working the largest muscles together through a full range of motion gives the best size increases. Although heavy weights are useful, I find moderate weight with higher reps, STRICT form, and a longer time under tension (T.U.T) works great when mass (not strength) is the goal. I like to alternate my clients leg programs with heavy, low rep cycles and higher volume moderate cycles with a greater T.U.T. Legs need lots of recovery time, so most of my trainees work legs 2X per week – one workout of quad based movements (squats) and one hip dominant (deadlift) workout (the weaker of the 2 lifts coming first in the week after a weekend of rest & food).

You list many great exercises, so as long as your form is good, they and their variations should work great! The only ones I would eliminate are: the leg extension (for the reasons in the blog post) – You can replace them with step-ups and variations of the lunge and I would dump the leg press. You are never in that position in real life or sports and in addition to the problems I listed in the blog I learned that the leg press allows you to load poundages 10x greater than the lumbar spine can handle! – add in the deadlift and its variations like the Romanian deadlift – of course with proper control of the lumbar spine i.e. NO rounded lower backs!! (see the photo in the blog)

You can keep the lying leg curl, as long as the hip pad & chest pads are angled downward (to reduce compression of the lumbar spine) and you perform the leg curl in strict form WITHOUT arching your lower back! For some great hamstring work add in the dumbbell leg curl; lie on a decline bench (or make one with a flat bench like in the video) and have a partner place a dumbbell between your feet and get ready for some serious BURN! Just remember the hamstrings are a bi-articulate muscle and cross both the hip joint & knee joint and are responsible for BOTH hip extension & knee flexion. So don’t solely rely on leg curls, you need hip extension movements like the deadlift for PROPER function. In any gait pattern (walikng, running etc) you always have both hip extension and knee flexion occurring. Only the physioball leg curl or similar non-machine based exercises have both movements but the loading is too low to generate significant mass gains.

Calf raises are fine (but there are better options), standing and seated both work well and you can also do barbell and dumbbell calf raises which are hard because you must balance and stabilize the weight – just avoid the “feet turned in, feet turned out” nonsense – you are rotating the foot position by moving your femur at the hip, the calves DO NOT rotate the foot in & out, your hip does – so foot position CANNOT stress the calf muscles differently or recruit one head of the muscle more than the other. The only thing that favors soleus recruitment is bending the knee (that is why you do seated calf work with the knee bent to 90 deg). This another useless bodybuilding myth that refuses to die… Also sprinting (especially in sand or uphill) is great for the calves. Don’t forget to train the anterior tibialis on the front of the shin – look for a device called the D.A.R.D or use a dumbbell.

If you have access to a sled or Prowler, dragging and pushing a sled is awesome for leg development, especially for those with knee issues – sled dragging has no eccentric load! Don’t forget good old sprinting as I already mentioned above – look at the legs of sprinters, they are HUGE!! Sprinting BUILDS muscle, distance running i.e. jogging, cross-country, marathons etc BREAKDOWN muscle!

A few last tips: You CANNOT shape a muscle with ANY exercise or set-rep combo!! Your genetics determine the shape of the muscle, THERE ARE NO SHAPING EXERCISES (AND LADIES, THERE ARE NO, REPEAT NO TONING EXERCISES!!!)
Body fat levels are the SECRET to shape and tone, if fat is low you see the shape of the muscle and if you have done REAL strength training you will also see the tone you developed – ALL PROPER weight training produces muscle tone, when body fat is low you can finally see it – THERE ARE NO “SPECIAL” TONING EXERCISES !!!; MUSCLE TONE = ABSENCE OF BODY FAT LAYING ON TOP OF THE MUSCLE AND NUTRITION HAS THE GREATEST IMPACT ON BODY FAT!!!

In closing, don’t forget that muscle builds during rest (primarily sleep) – so you need to rest more than you train (unless you have chemical assistance) and “You can’t build something from nothing!” – You MUST eat to grow muscle!!

I hope this helps, please feel free to ask me any other questions.

Have a great day!


P.S. Here are links to 3 great books on natural training to help with gaining mass:

Super Squats: How to gain 30 pounds of muscle in 6 weeks! – Randal J. Strossen, PhD.

– Stuart Mc Robert

Dinosaur Training
– by Brooks Kubik

6. Lee Skinner - September 23, 2012

Hi Gordon. I just happened to come across your Blog whilst looking for variations and improvements to the exercises I perform currently. I have only read the 13 terrifying gym exercises page so far but am really looking forwards to reading more of your articles.

I found it funny as well as very informative.

Lee S

fitmontclair - September 23, 2012

Hi Lee,

Glad you found my blog and are enjoying it! You can use the blog’s search engine to search for key words or topics. My posts cover a wide variety of topics related to health, exercise, and nutrition.

Also, don’t miss out on additional information, resources, and references. There are many hyper-links in the text of the articles AND THE COMMENTS that follow them, as well as many (but not all) of the pictures link more info!

Besides the FITMONTCLAIR blog, I have a FREE article database with the articles I have written for “Men’s Exercise” and “Exercise for Men Only” magazines and the Town Medical Newsletter. I wrote the “Exercise Specialist” and “Performance Specilaist” columns for the magazines for two years (until their news stand publications ceased) and I currently write an exercise & health column for the Town Medical Newsletter.

The difference being the magazines are edited for length, not content. The medical newsletter is edited for length and has to provide peer reviewed scientific & medical references. My blog is completely unedited and contains my views backed by source materials, additional info, and references when available. I ALWAYS try to provide my sources and links to additional info on the blog, for much of the information is NOT public knowledge and sounds too outrageous to be true – BUT IT IS! That is why there is NO advertising on or sponsorship of my blog (other than myself & my company, ADVANCED FITNESS CONCEPTS) for I do not ever want to be pressured in to writing what I feel is incorrect, untruthful, or promoting a useless product!.

Here is the link to my FREE article database, anything I write will eventually be there! I hope to be writing some new blog posts soon as well as a column & features for the NEW D.F.A.C (Drug Free Athlete Coalition) online magazine when it launches in 2013!

FREE Article Database

Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and feel free to ask any questions you may have. Also, please forward my blog to anyone you believe can benefit from it. You can place links to the blog if you know of sites that would appreciate the content, however all I ask is that you credit me as the author.

Have a great day!


7. Kelly - November 28, 2012

Great article!!

fitmontclair - November 28, 2012

Thanks Kelly!

Glad you enjoyed it, if you have any questions please feel free to ask and to forward the post to anyone you think could benefit from it.

There is more info, links, and additional references & resources in the comments section immediately after the blog post.

Watch for new articles coming soon and use the search engine on the side of the page to look for other topics that interest you.

Have a great day!


P.S. There is also lots of training info at my FREE article database which has all all the articles from my 2 magazine columns and my column from the Town Medical Associates newsletter.

FREE Article Database

and if you are on Facebook you can get the latest information & updates as I find them My Facebook page

8. aps - December 13, 2012

hey……thank u for the knowledge but please explain me the squat and the cruches paragraph again…..

fitmontclair - December 14, 2012

Sure, I would be glad too!

With the squat, it is ONLY the Smith machine (or other machine based) squat that is detrimental and a poor choice. Regular, three-dimensional squats with a barbell, dumbbells, kettlbells, medicine balls,or body weight are EXCELLENT exercises – as long as done in good form (squat form is beyond this reply and really needs to be taught 1-on-1 after an assessment)

The Smith machine is an UNNATURAL movement for it tries to make the three-dimensional movement of the squat into a two-dimensional exercise by reducing the amount of balance you need thus eliminating multiple planes of motion from the movement and working solely in a vertical plane.

The Smith machine allows you to lean back into the bar which shifts the center of mass and decreases the hip extension function and recruitment of the hamstrings. The co-contraction of the hamstrings with the quadriceps is important for protecting & stabilizing the knees. This produces a high shear force in the knees and pulls the joint apart as well as damages the ACL.

This information comes the book “The Poliquin Principles” by World Famous Canadian strength coach & trainer Charles Poliquin. (Pg .72)

There is a lot more detail to why we need to squat (even just body weight) to be healthy. Here is an article I wrote about squatting for Men’s Exercise magazine: “No Excuse Squatting!”

The two variations of the Smith machine squat I mentioned in the blog post; leaning back & feet close together placed way out in front of the body, and the ballet style Plie’ squat are two variations I see often done by women and given to women by trainers (although men do sometimes use them). Again, they are both UNNATURAL movements and lead to excessive strain on joints & connective tissues that often results in damage. The leaning back, feet in front variation puts excessive compression on the cervical spine, for often most women place the bar on the their neck, not their trapezius muscles. This position combined with the shift in mass and even more reduced hamstring activation (due to the foot placement & excessive backwards lean) damages the knees & the neck! The Plie’ is a three dimensional body weight ballet dance movement, to place it in the confines of the Smith machine with an external load NEVER used in dance damages the knees, hips, and lower back! Most ballet dancers have horribly damaged feet, ankles, knees, and often hips to begin with; adding an additional load to the body while RESTRICTING normal movement is just stupid & dangerous!

I will have the crunch info up soon- I just need to put together some references

Thanks for reading & commenting, I hope the info is useful – MORE TO COME!


9. aps - December 14, 2012

thnk vry much sir..

fitmontclair - December 20, 2012

Here is the info on the crunch I promised, sorry for the delay but it is a very busy time of year….

Again, not ALL crunches are bad; it is the ones done on the floor or mat that are the problem. (Of course all the crunch machines, ab rollers, and other late night gimmicks fall into this category – See the links to “The Abdominal Myths series” at the end for all the details)

Crunches done on the floor REDUCE the mobility of the spine. While lying supine your spine is designed to flex appox. 30 degrees forward (without assistance from the hip flexors and lower back) and extend approx . 40 degrees backward for an avg motion of 70 degrees (you actually have more spinal mobility going backwards then you do bending forward).

lying on the floor only allows 30 degrees of flexion forward and then back down to the floor, you lose the 40 degrees of extension backwards – unless you lie over a properly sized physioball; the ball allows for FULL range of spinal motion. Here is a video explaining how to use a physioball to do crunches:

Proper Physioball Crunch Technique

The loss of spinal motion often alters posture, encouraging a forward head and depressed sternum due to excessive tightness in the rectus abdominus. The motion of the abdominal muscles become restricted from the short range of motion of floor crucnhes. Floor crunches aren an improper exercise and makes breathing difficult for they cause the rib cage to constantly be pulled down. The depressed sternum not only makes breathing difficult but encourages shoulder & neck pain and headaches due to overuse of the levator scapulae, scalenes and upper trapezius to breathe. Pulling on the head just makes all of this worse and adds strain to the cervical spine. Loss of spinal mobility (especially in the thoracic spine) due to floor crunches also exacerbates conditions like: kyphosis, “Dowager’s Hump”, forward rounded shoulders, shoulder impingement, TMJ, and when you lose mobility in one area of the spine another must move excessively to make up for it. In this case it is usually the lower back; the area of the spinal column designed with the least amount of movement. The lumbar spine is designed for stability, not mobility and forcing movement from there (due to loss of mobility in the thoracic spine) often leads to low back pain & injuries.

Also the crunch is not for every person; like any exercise it needs to be prescribed correctly to prevent injury. There are reasons to use a physioball crunch in training, TRYING TO SPOT REDUCE ABDOMINAL FAT IS NOT ONE OF THEM, EVER!!!!

I wrote an 8 part series on “The Abdominal Exercise Myths” which goes into great detail with references and additional information resources on what the real role of the abdominal muscles are and how to train them without crunch type exercises, for that type of movement is cited in medical literature as causing & aggravating low back injuries. (If there is a sport, activity or occupational need for a crunch type motion, then they will be need to be added as long as the motion is PAIN FREE and done properly with a full range of motion like in the video!)

The 1st 4 parts cover in detail abdominal physiology, function, and training. The 2nd 4 parts cover the role of nutrition & food allergies in abdominal training, function, and appearance:

The Abdominal Exercise Myths – Part 1 “I do 200 crunches a day and I m still fat and now my neck hurts!”

The Abdominal Exercise Myths – Part 2 “What do you mean I stand funny and have big @ss”

The “Abdominal Myths – Part 3A ” What do you mean ‘The crunch machine’ at the gym is useless and causing my back pain?”

The Abdominal Exercise Myths – 3B “Crunch-FREE Exercises for Rock Hard Abs & a Solid Steel Spine!”

Links to the second 4 posts on nutrition and abdominal function can be found at the end of the other posts listed.

I hope this helps, thanks for reading my blog and asking questions.

Have a great day!


VK - February 27, 2015

Great artice! Even greater responses! Thanks for providing the information.

Small note: you relocated the Part 2 article since December 2012 to https://fitmontclair.wordpress.com/2009/07/18/the-abdominal-myths-part-2-or-what-do-you-mean-i-stand-funny-and-have-a-big-s/. Current link takes one to the “Doh!” page. 🙂

fitmontclair - February 27, 2015

Hi Vassily!

Glad you enjoy my blog! Thank you so much for letting me know there was a problem with The Abdominal Myths – Part 2; it must be a mistake on my part. I will fix it ASAP! Please if you or (anyone) finds ANY dead links, missing pictures, errors. missing YouTube videos PLEASE LET ME KNOW ASAP, SO I CAN FIX THEM!

Have a great day and thanks again!


UPDATE: All fixed, as far as I could find the only bad link was the one in the comments for this post; it is now fixed and I have checked the others in my other blog posts – thanks again, sorry or any inconvenience!

10. DGStrength - September 9, 2013

Kettlebell swings don’t go over the head? In CrossFit competitions they do not count unless it goes overhead. I know, CrossFit is not the prime example of safety but I don’t see why it is a bad thing. Can you please elaborate?

fitmontclair - September 10, 2013

Hi Daniel,

Thanks so much for reading my blog and taking the time to comment (you are the first to ask about the “swing”). Sure I can elaborate!

You are right about Crossfit not being a “shinning example” of exercise form & safety but I don’t want to just spend time bashing them (I do that often enough in public and on Facebook).

Although I do believe ” a picture is worth a thousand words…”
; So here are 2 videos showing why people should avoid Crossfit and treat it as the fitness-plague it is:

Before we get in to shoulder & spinal mechanics, my first question would be “are you sure you are talking about the kettlebell swing?” – I have not seen Crossfit competition; except for a few seconds of their World Games on ESPN but these competitors are ELITE athletes who probably possess excellent shoulder mobility, posture, and spinal health (this is VERY rare in common gym goers, weekend exercisers, and Crossfitters) So, if the swing does go overhead in their competitions, they probably possess the posture, mobility, and flexibility that 99% of the population are lacking today (due to: computers, video games, cell phones, seated desk jobs, television, driving, and of course improperly designed exercise programs with poor technique!). Look at the horrendous posture & form of the woman in the blog’s picture – rounded upper back, head drooped forward, no control of her lumbar spine and pelvis! She is an injury waiting to happen; all she needs is more reps or a heavier weight and she will develop a close relationship with an orthopedic surgeon.

Back to the swing question, I have not seen any top instructors teach the swing to go overhead however: The KB snatch, 1 arm press, and KB clean & jerk ALL do go overhead at the end of the movement.

This is the KB snatch; it is a combination of the swing & press movements where the bell does go overhead BUT there is a different grip, shoulder position, and movement than the swing which allows for safe overhead movement IF the person has optimal posture, shoulder mobility, and spinal extension.

Mike Mahler: 1 arm kettlbell snatch – NOT a swing

Here are some of the TOP kettle bell instructors in the USA teaching the swing (in no particular order):

Steve Maxwell:

Steve Cotter:

Dan John (teaching hip-hinge as part of the swing; notice the models arms never go above parallel tot he floor):

Gray Cook:

In all of these videos the kettlebell only goes between almost eye level or parallel to the floor on the upswing; the bell NEVER goes overhead.

Taking the bell overhead can damage the: shoulders, neck, or bursa because like in the upright row the hands are in front of the body, in maximum pronation and internal rotation which places extreme stress on the biceps tendon & shoulder bursa along with pinching (i.e. damaging) the rotator cuff tendons due to a reduced sub-acromial space.

This guy would cripple himself with intense, overhead exercise or ANY exercise that vertically loads the spine like squats. – Notice his: rounded upper back, forward head posture, internally rotated shoulders – all too common in gyms today!


Also dynamically swinging the bell overhead and forcing the motion injures the shoulder capsule as well as the neck and thoracic spine if there is limited shoulder flexion and thoracic extension.
This is also the reason why in the blog post I do not recommend behind the head barbell presses, behind the head lat pull downs, nor the already mentioned upright barbell row for they all placed the shoulder in injury prone positions and you have to remember that it is really a shoulder-neck complex, So injuring one usually predisposes the other for future problems.

While I am sure the elite level athlete may be able to do this for a few competitions; like I have already mentioned the average person with internally rounded shoulders, pronated hands, and a forward head posture will literally just tear their spine apart for the last 30 to 40° of full shoulder flexion is dependent on normal extension of the thoracic spine which is impossible with anyone that has a rounded upper back, forward shoulders, and or forward head posture to do without compensating at (and injuring) the shoulder joint, neck, and or lumbar spine. Many people with limited thoracic mobility try to make up the extra movement at the lumbar spine and over increase the arch in their lower back to try to get the weight overhead predisposing them to a lower back injury (This is also the reason he standing barbell press is no longer one of the Olympic lifts prior to 1972 there were 3 Olympic lifts: The snatch, the clean & jerk, and the standing overhead press. Many athletes injured their lower back in the standing press leaning back way too far making it almost a standing bench press; So the Olympic Committee in 1972 banned that and now there are only 2 Olympic lifts).

increased lordosis when weight is overhead

Here is an example of good shoulder flexion, full R.O.M and no compensations – Has good posture and is able to fully extend thoracic spine (VERY rare in today’s society):

Here is an example of POOR shoulder flexion due to bad posture – can’t fully raise arms without compensation. Compensation always precedes injury! This and WORSE is what you find in almost every gym today; trying to do ANY overhead exercise with this limitation will eventually damage the neck, shoulder, and or thoracic spine. There is also a risk of lumbar strain and injury if they learn to substitute excessive lumber extension for limited thoracic mobility:

Another one of the shoulder R.O.M tests I perform is “Apley’s Scratch” test and you want BOTH sides to have full R.O.M – notice how the model can only pass one side. If he were to do overhead exercises he would eventually be injured! This must be corrected first. He would also need to avoid the bench press…

This is why in other blog posts I have mentioned repeatedly that any exercise given without an assessment of the persons: health history, injury history, posture, flexibility, and range of motion is just going to injure them for your guessing at what they can do and not actually measuring. I personally do a four view postural exam ,a functional movement screen, individual joint range of motion testing, and length tension testing of all my clients before I ever let them exercise. also included in the assessment are at least five separate shoulder flexibility and mobility screens, Cervical range of motion testing, tests for grip strength and core strength, and assessments of coordination & balance. If someone needs it I also add injury specific and or sport specific testing, for the more the person wants to be able to do the more data I need to design a proper program that will not injure them. That is also why I am against the Crossfit W.O.D (workout of the day) For there is no individual assessment or programming, just group exercise which I have written about on this blog as group injury! https://fitmontclair.wordpress.com/2010/02/14/bootcamp-bootcant-or-why-group-exercise-classes-are-really-group-injury/

These are 3 of my favorite quotes in the fitness industry:

“The treatment can only be as good as the examination” – James Cyriax, M.D. (In fitness & rehab the assessment is your exam and the exercise program is the treatment)

“Never try to put fitness on top of orthopedic dysfunction” – Gray Cook, MSPT, OCS, CSCS, RKC

“If you are not assessing, you are guessing!”- Paul Chek, HHP, NMT

I hope this answered your question and please feel free to ask any other questions you may have.

Have a great day & stay strong!


fitmontclair - January 3, 2015

Hi Everyone, HAPPY NEW YEAR!! I hope 2015 is off to a great start for you and that it will be a year of increased strength, fitness, and health for all of you!! Watch for NEW posts, updated comments, and more!

Getting back to the kettlebell swing technique that Daniel asked about – here is some new info I just became aware of (I am far from perfect and I don’t know everything…). The traditional Russian kettlebell swing does not go overhead as demonstrated in the previous videos with some of the country’s best kettle bell experts – however like many things American; we make up variations of our own from traditional ideas / practices and CrossFit is no exception. They are known for making up many unique exercise variations; THIS DOESN’T MEAN THEY ARE CORRECT OR SAFE; it just means you are likely not to them outside of a CrossFit studio or competition. That being said I just learned that they do have a variation of the kettlebell swing called the American swing, which does go overhead. So Daniel was not mistaken asking about the CrossFit kettlebell swing. Like many CrossFit exercise techniques and variations I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS FOR ANYONE AND ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO DO NOT HAVE EXTREME SHOULDER JOINT / THORACIC SPINE MOBILITY AND OVERALL TORSO FLEXIBILITY for it can easily lead to shoulder impingement; rotator cuff damage, and cervical disc injury ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE A POOR POSTURE AS OUTLINED IN THE PREVIOUS VIDEOS OR FAIL ANY OF THE SHOULDER MOBILITY SCREENS & ASSESSMENTS. So once again you see that if “you are not assessing, YOU ARE GUESSING!” – Train Hard, BUT TRAIN SMART!!


11. 13 Terrifying Gym Exercises & The Horrific Injuries They Cause ... | Fitness Training MachinesFitness Training Machines - September 29, 2013

[…] Read more here: 13 Terrifying Gym Exercises & The Horrific Injuries They Cause … […]

fitmontclair - September 29, 2013

Hi to those from fitnesstrainingmachines.co.uk/

While I appreciate the link to my blog and article database, it is customary (and polite) to ask or at least notify me you are placing a link to my sites. Being that my family is from and still in the UK and since there are no derogatory or false comments about my sites or me you can leave the links in place and I hope people are able to benefit from the information.

However, I CANNOT and DO NOT recommend, support or endorse ANY people, goods, products, and or services sold at, linked to, or associated with http://www.fitnesstrainingmachines.co.uk/ I, my blog, or website have NO connection of any type to anyone at or associated the said site: http://www.fitnesstrainingmachines.co.uk/ – For no other reason than that I know NOTHING about them or their site & services.

I hope anyone who followed the link to my blog post and the other link to my article database enjoyed the information, were able to learn from it and apply it to your and your families lives. As always feel free to contact me or post questions in the comments section.

Thanks for reading!


Gordon Waddell, PES,CSCS,CES


12. F**k You - November 15, 2013

And this is why you are a fatso in 2013.

fitmontclair - November 16, 2013

Once again a troll has slipped past the filters although as always I post the comment unedited (except for language) to foster free speech.

In the over 100,000 views of my blog and hundreds of comments, there have only been 2 negative comments and this is the third. The one thing all 3 comments have in common is that they respond with NO INTELLIGENT STATEMENTS, PROVIDE NO CREDIBLE INFORMATION FOR A COUNTER ARGUMENT, OR USE THEIR REAL NAME AND EMAIL..So I guess we should assume that all internet trolls are: UNINTELLIGENT, UNEDUCATED, RUDE, COWARDS THAT DON’T USE THEIR REAL IDENTITY. (I’m sure we all suspected that already…)

We can look at your juvenile comment in two ways; if you are directing the comment at me then you are just too stupid to click on the gravitar and view my picture; or if you are directing it as a rhetorical statement to commercial gym goers then you would be correct in many, many cases for commercial gyms are FILLED with overweight members doing USELESS
machine based exercises that not only cause injuries but do NOT burn significant calories, elevate metabolism, or increase anabolic & lipolyitc hormones.

But we will NEVER find out which you mean for your IP address has been blocked and no further comments will be allowed from you. I will NOT force my readers to endure more or your childish behavior and demeaning comments. This blog is designed to provide: “outside the box” education, generate critical thinking, and links to further information on a variety of: health, fitness, and nutrition topics. The comments section is to ask logical questions, request further information or references, present additional viewpoints, and gain clarification on issues; NOT for internet trolls such as yourself to make inane comments and incite verbal attacks!

Go make an ass of yourself elsewhere!


13. mahesh kote - December 14, 2013

Great post! This is just the kind of information that i had been looking for. Thanks a ton once again, Regards,

fitmontclair - December 14, 2013

Hi Mahesh,

Thanks for reading my blog! Glad you enjoyed the information; please feel to forward or paste a link for anyone you feel it can help. If you have any questions just ask! Also don’t skip the comments section for this post; there is a ton of additional info, links, and videos that you may find useful.

I soon hope to a have link up to an online video article that shows safer exercise alternatives that I collaborated on with Ted Lane for Mens Health UK edition.

Have a great day!


14. Lauren Bennette - January 3, 2014

Hi Gordon. As i read your blog i think its very helpful to know what are the do’s and don’ts when it comes in exercising. And I wondering, is proper ways of exercise can help alcohol or drug rehab patients? If it is, can you please tell me what are the kinds of exercises that fits with this people? Hope to get an informative answer, thanks in advance.

fitmontclair - January 3, 2014

Hi Lauren,

Thanks for reading my blog and taking the time to comment. Your question is a little beyond my scope of practice but I will try to help as best I can. I believe exercise can help the rehab patients you mentioned for it does react with the opioid receptors in the brain to produce a “euphoria” – this is what happens in the “runner’s high” often mentioned. I believe any type of exercise can be used as a substitute provided it is safe, and the individual does not have any injuries, movement, or health limitations. I would get medical clearance from a doctor to be safe.

I would start out light if the people are deconditioned, out of shape or overweight. It may take a while for people to be able to exercise with enough intensity to generate opioid production- although it could be an individual effect, I am really not sure but anecdotally it is always people who are pushing hard that seem to generate a “euphoric” effect – I would stay away from Crossfit AT ALL COSTS; it is reckless, dangerous, and produces too may injuries (due to being too high intensity with no assessments, screening, medical clearance and lack of proper instruction).

You would need to be careful to temper the exercise just like a drug, for too much, too fast produces injuries and you can’t exercise when injured so the chances for depression and a relapse to old habits would be high. I only have direct experience with 1 case where a woman was replacing alcohol addiction with exercise; the problem was she did NOT want a structured, progressive, SAFE program. She wanted to do EVERYTHING: running, Yoga, classes, weight training, Pilates – she came to me with lots of injuries and wanted me to design an exercise program to help with the pain etc. She backed out last second because I showed her how OVER EXERCISING and the excessive running were causing her injuries and that Yoga would not help (she was hyper-mobile to begin with) and that group exercise is really GROUP INJURY (due to poor instruction & exercise selection). I outlined a corrective program designed to let her body heal, reduce her imbalances, align her posture; all of which would eventually eliminate her pains and allow her to GRADUALLY return to running etc. She was using CONSTANT, EXCESSIVE daily exercise to fight alcohol cravings but was developing many orthopedic injuries. I still see her post in local web groups and chat rooms asking for recommendations for the “latest, greatest” exercise trends; THIS IS ALWAYS FOLLOWED SEVERAL WEEKS LATER BY A REQUEST FOR A: Physical Therapist, Orthopedist, or Chiropractor recommendation for a NEW INJURY! (Note: I later came to the realization of how & why she was using exercise, she did not admit that it was to replace alcohol addiction at first – it was only after her slipping about going to her AA meeting affecting setting up a training schedule)

This is why you need to introduce PROPER exercise, at a controlled dose.

I wish I had more information to give you but I have never dealt with a substance rehab case except the one I mentioned. An aside about some interesting nutrition facts you may or may not know; Many alcoholics are LOW in omega-3 essential fats and that when scientists gave supplemental Omega-3 to alcoholics their cravings for alcohol decreased (in some cases was eliminated).

Have a great day!


15. Alexander Degai - May 23, 2014

Excellent read, thank you!

There are million different articles on what you should and shouldn’t do, but this one goes in depth explaining the logic behind each exercise.

I’m currently on stronglifts 5×5 exercise program, which, as you may know, consists of 5 compound barbell movements:

Bench Press
Bent Over Row
Overhead press

What is your professional opinion on it? Do any of those moves, given a proper form, put an excess amount of stress on any body joints?

16. Nathaniel Thompson - December 3, 2014

Hey Gordon,
I was reading your response to Daniel (the one about shoulder mobility and the dangers of compensating for it with thoracic spine extension) and I couldn’t help but notice that I have the same forward leaning posture that you were talking about. I’m 19 and have been training for about 3 years and I think I know my body relatively well but lately I have been having a lot of problems in my shoulders and lower back and I think it may be due to my lack of overall athletic mobility. My shoulders slouch forward quite a bit and my head has always leaned out in front of my body a bit (probably due to years of bad posture). Anyways, I was just wondering if you had any helpful mobility exercises or other helpful tips that can help me continue to workout without always having to work around pesky injuries. (PS I have been looking into shoulder injuries lately and just by looking at the symptoms I fell as though I may have thoracic outlet syndrome, if you have any advice about that it would be greatly appreciated as well).

Feel free to be honest about the things I’m doing wrong, I promise not to get butt-hurt.

Thank you,

fitmontclair - December 4, 2014

Hi Nathaniel,

Thanks so much for reading my blog especially all the way through the comments (where much of the really good information is…) I can definitely give you information and ideas to help you; but I will have to do it over several replies because I am trying to complete some CEU classes that I need this month for recertification as well as prepare for the holidays. That being said the good news is at 19-years old you should still be flexible and mobile enough that you will not require extensive retraining, Chiropractic, or physical therapy.

To really make a permanent healthy change in your flexibility,mobility, posture, shoulder girdle alignment, and head carriage we need to look at all the areas that affect it, not just your training. Simply because several hours in the gym per week cannot undo 40 to 60 hours a week of bad posture. The first thing we must look at is time and gravity; gravity is always pulling you forward and down and the longer you spend time in this incorrect position the worse your flexibility and mobility will become. What this means whether it be at home, work, school, or driving you need to be aware of your posture. The biggest culprits for bad posture these days are the use of improper height computer monitors, laptops, tablets, and smart phones. All require you to have a bent forward position. This will round the shoulders forward and in as well as reduce your ability to extend your thoracic spine. Due to the fact the average head weighs between 11 and 16 pounds when it sits perfectly balanced on top of your body in ideal alignment you need to make sure you avoid forward head posture for every inch forward the head moves it doubles in weight thus increasing the strain on your neck muscles as well as the connective tissues and nerves which can compound and aggravate the thoracic outlet syndrome. (Ex. a 2 inch forward head will weigh between 22 and 32 pounds and so on for every inch forward your head travels)

The best book I can recommend on proper ergonomics set up of your desk and workplace is “sitting on the job” by Scott Donkin, DC. I would get that or another book on ergonomics to learn how to set up your posture properly; for until you do you will be fighting a losing battle with exercise and corrective therapies just due to the simple fact you’ll be spending more hours a week in a poor posture rather than a good posture; A very important saying that holds true for everyone is “we all become our posture” Also many health and fitness experts define posture as “The beginning and the end of movement”, so if your posture is poor at the beginning of an exercise it is only going to get worse in the success of sets and repetitions which will lead to injury. The next areas we will have to look at are assessments to see exactly what areas you need to mobilize and improve flexibility in, for you only want to mobilize and stretch what is restricted or tight; if you stretch or loosen areas of normal mobility you will induce hypermobility and the risk of an injury due to tissue laxity and unstable joints. We can then come up with simple daily corrective exercises and mobility drills as well as look at the design of your training program. I will put up more information later.

Here is the link for the book: http://www.amazon.com/Sitting-Job-Survive-Stages-Down/dp/159120013X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1417713507&sr=1-1&keywords=sitting+on+the+job

also here is recent excellent article from the Washington Post on how smart phones are causing postural distortion and multiple neck problems: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/11/20/text-neck-is-becoming-an-epidemic-and-could-wreck-your-spine/

Have a great day and check back soon or more info!


17. Gordon - December 12, 2014

Hi again Nathaniel,

I hope my earlier information was of use to you; It is vital to understand that despite using corrective exercises, time and gravity will eventually dictate your posture. The next step we need to look at to answer your questions and make some corrections would be to start to look at your training program. Unfortunately the exercises that we guys like are the ones that are most detrimental to our posture which becomes extremely hard on the shoulder neck complex and often the lower back for everything is connected. So what you have to look at is the design of your training program and the number of pulling exercises you have compared to pushing exercises. To correct your shoulder position and help with the forward head posture you ideally should have a 3 to 2 ratio if not a 3 to 1 ratio and in severe cases (although you’re too young for this) a 3 to 0 ratio of pulling to pushing exercises. The biggest mistake and I’m guilty of it myself is guys (and women) is overtraining the mirror muscles i.e. everything on the front side of the body or what you see when you check yourself out in the mirror at the gym. So your program design should be based on assessment (which we will go over later – for a program not based on a specific individual assessment of you is just a guess at what you need to do; I want to comes to resistance training guessing is: reckless, dangerous, and unprofessional!) A simple thing would be to do two pulling or extension exercises for every pushing exercise. To help with posture and proper alignment of the shoulder girdle I usually like to place any upper body pushing movements in between two pulling exercises ex. Pull-ups, push-ups, dumbbell rows.

As far as flexion exercises for the torso they can be extremely hard on the lower back especially if combined with rotation; The abuse of things like the crunch and abdominal training machines are a major cause of rounded shoulders, hunched back positions, and forward head posture. I began this blog with a multi-part series all on the myths of abdominal training; if you read those blog posts you’ll get an exact understanding of what I’m talking about as well as the medical and scientific references behind it. Needless to say unless you have a sport or occupation that involves using a crunch type movement I would avoid them in favor of extension based and hanging abdominal exercises where there is minimal flexion of the torso; you could also include the reverse crunch for the spine remains in a flat neutral position with no movement of the rib cage towards the pelvis under load. Here are links to probably the two most applicable blog post for you from the “abdominal myths” series I wrote:

The “Abdominal Myths – Part 3A ” What do you mean ‘The crunch machine’ at the gym is useless and causing my back pain?”


The Abdominal Exercise Myths – 3B “Crunch-FREE Exercises for Rock Hard Abs & a Solid Steel Spine!”


There is also some good information on how to do a proper physio ball crunch for those who QUALIFY and have a need to do that motion in one of the earlier comments above yours, you may want to check that out as well.

So please read these two blog posts and the next group of information I’ll give you will be resources for you to do proper self assessments for you only want to correct what is imbalanced. From there we can also get into some of the daily corrective exercises you can add in to improve posture and reduce forward head carriage. For now if having a rounded back is a concern I would definitely reduce upper body pushing motions, ESPECIALLY THE BENCH PRESS. OVERHEAD PRESS, and DIPS and incorporate more pulling exercises including the deadlift (provided you have no current back injuries) and lots of rowing movements especially horizontal rows to undo bench presses and crunches – ALTHOUGH NO PULLING BEHIND THE HEAD – EVER!!! I would eliminate all abdominal crunches except those on a physio ball as demonstrated in the video in the comments above yours, even then I would program a 3 to 1 ratio of core extension exercises to one set of physio ball crunches.



18. Itzik - February 5, 2015

Hi man. First I must thank you, for this great article ! It really taught me a lot.
Can you please direct me for few safest exercises to do (Maybe something you wrote already)? I write “safest” because I prefer doing things, in which, there is the highest chance I will do them correctly without being expert.

Gordon - February 7, 2015

Glad you liked my blog post! “Safe” exercises is a very broad term and would really be based on your training / fitness goals, health history, injury history, age, training age (# of years you have been training), and of course a physical assessment of your: posture, flexibility, mobility, strength, CV fitness, core strength etc. However you can get some good ideas from past magazine articles and medical newsletter articles I have written. Here is a link to my FREE article database which has all my articles; you can also use the search engine on the blog for specific exercises / topics; and the latest info I usually put up on the ADVANCED FITNESS CONCEPTS facebook page.


http:www facebook.com/advancedfitnessconcepts

If you have more questions, just post them here.

Have a great day!


19. fitmontclair - February 7, 2015

Hi Everyone!

I received this question in an email awhile back and I thought some of you may benefit from my response – the question came to me after a blog reader had read this post & the comments. I have omitted their name and email address for they never responded to my request if it was o.k. to post their question and my response because I feel many readers may benefit from the information. Since it has been months and I have had no further contact I am assuming there will be no objections to my posting the question; it was about using the Smith machine for compound exercises.

Here is the original question:

Dear Gordon,

Thank you for your great informed information.

I was thinking about getting a Smith machine but after reading much of your info I am thinking that maybe it’s not money well spent.

Do you think there are any training applications for the Smith machine?

What do you think of performing lunges, presses and deadlift with it?

Here was my e-mail reply:

Hi …….,

Thanks for writing I’m glad you enjoyed my post (I am assuming you went to my Fitmontclair blog and read the post on the 13 terrifying exercises)

I know a new Smith machine costs several thousand dollars; I personally believe you could spend the money much better equipment. The only things I ever recommend the Smith machine for are: horizontal pull-ups/ rows and adjustable push-ups for people who can’t do full push-ups on the floor. It also makes a good adjustable height stretching bar. Other than that I have never come across any other good uses for Smith machine except as an adjustable coat rack – all of the trainers, coaches, doctors, and therapists that I get my information from do not use a Smith machine for any of their training or rehab except in the cases of extreme neurological damage, motor deficit or a brain injury where a person does not have the ability to stand on their own anymore.

All exercises done on three dimensional equipment (free weight Olympic bars, dumbbells, kettlebells, bodyweight, rings & the TRX) require you to stabilize the weight yourself, thus activating stabilization muscles around your joints which is the proper way we do daily activities and compete in sports. Using a two-dimensional dimensional Smith machine or any fixed axis machine negates you balancing and coordinating the weight with your own body and this diminishes the recruitment of your own stabilizer muscles which are extremely important in sporting activities as well as controlling your movements in daily life without injury. The Smith machine will allow someone to use a greater weight but unfortunately that is due to lack of the need to stabilize and balance it, so you’re actually overloading the joint with more weight than it could normally handle and the joint is not being properly stabilized three dimensionally by your own body but rather it is relying on the machine to balance and stabilize the weight for you.

If you go to any of the videos on my blog or even ones on YouTube and watch proper squatting, deadlifting, lunging, and pressing you will see that these are all three dimensional movements that take place in multiple planes of motion at once especially the squat and the deadlift. If you try to force these movements in to a fixed two dimensional plane like the Smith machine you’ll not only not do the exercises incorrectly but you will be improperly aligning the body and your joints to handle the load. If you go back to my blog post on the “13 terrifying exercises” and scroll down through the comments you will find questions on kettlebell training and in there is a video from Coach Dan John which demonstrates the proper mechanics of the hip hinge which is a key component of not only the kettle bell swing but proper deadlift mechanics as well. Watch and see that what Coach Dan demonstrates is physiologically impossible to replicate on a two-dimensional fixed axis machine like the Smith machine. Smith machines became popular because they have safety hooks so you don’t require a spotter which can be a good thing; but they also allow people to work their ego for you can put more large 45 pound plates on the smith machine for a squat or press then you can on a free Olympic bar because again the machine stabilizes and balances the bar and weight for you. So while you look like you’re lifting more weight in actuality you’re not; simply feel the weight of the bar in the smith machine versus the weight of a true Olympic bar. It is because of this that many coaches and trainers call the Smith machine and ego machine and I have to agree with them – years ago when I began training before I took any college courses, certification programs, or attended proper training lectures and seminars I used to like the smith machine for many of the reasons people do, then I realized I was only fooling myself, building my ego, and worst of all I was placing undue strain in my lower back, knees, neck and shoulders.

Because a gym has a Smith machine it doesn’t mean you need to use it. When I was Fitness Director of my areas largest commercial gym I used to use the smith machine as a test of not only the members , but more importantly of my training staff to see who really understood: exercise physiology, biomechanics and kinesiology; for those that had a good if not superior understanding never touched a Smith machine except for push-ups or to stretch. I actually judge the quality and knowledge of gyms that I visit today based on the number of or lack of Smith machines they have – in that if they have squat racks and deadlifting platforms and one or no Smith machines it is probably a good gym with an educated staff and a clientele that is serious about training while not getting injured. If I go to a gym and they have no squat racks and deadlifting is banned, and the only place to squat is in a Smith machine and they have more than one Smith, then to me it is a low-quality gym with a very poorly educated training staff members who don’t know any better and just want to work their egos.

Sadly this is the exact case with Planet Fitness, they have no squat racks, no benchpress stations with a free moving Olympic bar, if they have Olympic bars you’re not allowed to put them on the floor for rows, and deaflifting has been banned by their corporate office – and the worst part of all this is they are the fastest growing gym franchise in the United States!! I hope I answered your question if you need any further information or recommendation for exercises or equipment to use in place of us with machine just ask.

I was thinking it would be very helpful to all the readers to post your email and my reply in the comment section of the blog article.I will not include your email address or even your name if you don’t want to but I think it was a great question and I would really like the blog readers to have access to my answers for you. I would also like to add several videos of what I was trying to explain to you on the proper movement patterns with a free Olympic bar and the problems associated with the smith machine, as well as include the one or two movements I believe are acceptable in a Smith machine. Even though I wrote this post four years ago it is one of the top three posts of all time on my blog and still receives several thousand hits per year.

Thanks again for reading my blog and contacting me!

I hope to have new posts up in the future as well as be contributing to a new natural bodybuilding and fitness magazine.

If you would like more of this type of information at a faster release you can always like the ADVANCED FITNESS CONCEPTS Page on Facebook for I put up the latest training information I find there it is much faster than writing a detailed blog post and it’s seems to get to more people at a quicker rate, like my blog I place no ads or sales material on that page other than what Facebook puts in the margins which I have no control over.

You can also visit my website: www. ADVANCED-FITNESS-CONCEPTS.com and there is a link there to my free article database of all the magazine and medical newsletter letter articles I have written.

Have a great day!


20. Adam Young - February 26, 2015

Wow, I have been going to the gym since I was 16, I am 33 now. I pretty much always avoided leg machines, I have never done squats, never done one dead lift, I own a kettle bell but don’t swing it, I don’t do abs much and when I do it’s leg raises or on top of a stability ball, never do behind the head pull downs or presses, and mostly use free weights, cables, and do pull ups, chin ups, and dips. I never studied what you did but just always felt these routines seemed like a bad idea. 17 years of lifting, I’m fit, and dumbbell press more than my body weight, I can do weighted dips and pull ups, my back never hurts, and my knees feel great! Don’t use gloves or belts either, love your post, glad to see my instincts may were right!

fitmontclair - February 26, 2015

Hi Adam,

Thanks for reading my blog!

Glad you enjoyed it; your instincts have served you well! I would however suggest adding some lower body functional movements (NO MACHINES) even with light to moderate loads for several reasons: they will elevate metabolism and help maintain strength & muscle; if done as interval or circuit training the will improve cardiovascular fitness & cv health in general; they are important for circulation and digestion; they will maintain your balance & coordination; they will improve flexibility from your low back to your ankles. They will also boost your overall strength for most compound i.e. functional lifts are full body exercises requiring almost all you muscles to work in coordination; many of the lower body compound lifts are also the BEST core exercises around for they connect the upper / lower body by stabilizing your spine and linking the hip musculature to your back & shoulders. The 4 best ones to include; and you can start just with body weight are: Squats, Deadlifts, Lunges, and Step ups – while there are many good books, DVDs, etc that teach these if you are concerned about learning proper form and preventing injury 1 or 2 sessions with a qualified coach or trainer would help tremendously for they can observe you and correct you on the spotno book or DVD can give you that type of instant personalized feedback! Remember, I am NOT anti-lower body/ hip dominant exercises – I think they are the among the absolute best and most necessary for all the reasons I mentioned above; I AM ANTI-LOWER BODY MACHINE BASED EXERCISES for theyr equire NO balance, stability, and coordination WHILE OFTEN EXCESSIVELY LOADING YOUR SPINE & JOINTS!!! I am also anti-lower body exercises done in TERRIBLE FORM for many of the same reasons ESPECIALLY THE INCREASED RISK OF INJURY! (The only exception to the no machine rule would be those who had a severe illness/injury/condition where the could NOT stand).

Also the lower body exercises are what many of my senior clients have the greatest difficulty with BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T START THEM WHEN THEY WERE YOUNG! You are young enough (and hopefully pain & injury free – sounds like you are) that you can easily learn and incorporate these exercises to provide life long health benefits and slow aging! They are also great for sports performance and PREVENTING AGE RELATED: muscle loss, balance problems, loss of flexibility, and injuries especially those related to falling you may not be concerned now but 30 years from now this will make a lot of sense…

Here is a link to an article I wrote about the physiological need to squat:


You may also like other articles I have written in my FREE database:


I have a ton of blog posts I would love to catch up on but in the meantime you can find my latest ideas, fitness posts, and events by liking the ADVANCED FITNESS CONCEPTS facebook page (sadly facebook is faster and reaches more people than my blog….)


If you have any questions just ask!

Stay healthy & STRONG!!


21. Simon - February 28, 2015

Hi Gordon

I have just come across your very well written article. I was aware that the lat pull down behind the neck. the barbell shoulder press behind the neck & the upright barbell row. I always hated the seated leg extension & did not use it for very long. I suspected it was a bad exercise but did not look into it.

Oh course doing the deadlift with a curved back is very dangerous. I have seen people curve their backs on the deadlift during the lift because they were lifting too much weight.

I had no idea the rest of the exercises were bad or bad if done in certain ways. I am shocked about the 45 degree leg press. I suspected that it could be placing dangerous loads on the knees, due to the sheer volume of weight that can be lifted on this exercise. I was not aware of the other issues with this exercise that you listed.

I have had a fairly long break from weight training & I am seriously looking at joining a gym again.

Thank you for your article. I will spend a few days looking through your site for more information.



fitmontclair - April 17, 2016

Hi Simon,

Thank you so much for reading my blog and taking the time to reply. I have to apologize for not replying sooner; somehow I missed some notifications about people commenting; I normally try to respond in 24 hours or less (unless I am really busy). I am glad you liked the post and found it helpful; it appears your instincts were right about which exercises to avoid. The key thing to avoid with any exercise is pain; Which is often due to bad form or using a machine, and then to make sure the majority of your exercises stress a fundamental movement pattern that we need for survival (gait, squatting, bending, lunging, pushing, pulling, and rotation). These patterns are best done in standing or with movement to stress our 8 critical bio motor abilities as defined by world renowned physiology & strength researcher Tudor Bompa, PhD – Balance, coordination, strength, speed, power, agility, flexibility, and endurance. Everyone needs all 8 to survive and move properly, HOWEVER the degree / amount that you need each one will be dictated by your lifestyle / sport / occupation. It is almost impossible to properly train / maintain these abilities with seated machine based exercises for they simply do not require or improve: balance, coordination. speed, power, or agility for these are not required when SITTING!

This is the main problem with the leg press – even if someone uses perfect form it is still an excessive load on the spine, for the leg press requires no balance, coordination, and the movement is unnatural when compared to the squat, deadlift, lunge, step up – which we have evolved to do since pre historic times. Just look at the difference between the amount of weight a person squats vs what they leg press – the leg press is always more because it requires NO balance, coordination, agility, and flexibility – the leg press only trains 1 ability, strength (unless done for high reps and then maybe endurance) and it develops the strength (and muscle hypertrophy) in a non-functional position that we don’t not use in daily life or sports. So people can use the leg press (hopefully in good form) to build strength & muscle BUT if done too often it will be at the exclusion of the other bio motor abilities we need for normal movement and physiology for simply we gain strength in the position we train and it DOES NOT always transfer over to other movements and sports – motor learning research has shown the training needs to be at least 85% similar to the desired pattern of movement to transfer to it.

I hope this explained in more detail my criteria for exercise selection. Remember the goal is not always to train harder or longer, BUT SMARTER!!! – Get as MUCH out of each exercise as possible by training MULTIPLE patterns of movement and STRESSING as many bio motor abilities as possible. The best way is compound exercises done with free weights or body weight, upright, three-dimensional, with no external support!

Thanks again for commenting, I wish you well in your training – if you like the information in my blog, below is a link to my FREE article database which has all the magazine and medical newsletter articles I have written.

Stay strong!


FREE article database:


If you are on Facebook, you can visit and like the ADVANCED FITNESS CONCEPTS page where I post the latest info I find regarding: training, fitness, nutrition, and health.


You may need to be logged in to Facebook for the link to work, new Facebook security seems to prevent direct access unless you are logged in.

22. Sara - June 8, 2015

Dear Gordon, I just read your article, and you seem to know what you are talking about and I knew a lot of what you said…can you advise me – when doing a lying hamstring curl, surely it is natural for your butt to come up a bit – if you try and glue your pelvis to the bench that’s not natural is it?!
also, when doing kneeling ab crunches on a cable machine, lots of body building sites have videos/photos using rounded backs, but I think if you’re pulling weight, you really ought to have a neutral spine as you come down?!

fitmontclair - April 16, 2016

Hi Sara,

First, please let me apologize! Some how I missed your question but I will do my best to answer it now, so sorry for the delay! Your question about the prone hamstring curl is correct; in that too often the pelvis lifts or rotates anteriory. This can (and has) led to many a low back injury. I am assuming you are talking about using a selctorized leg curl unit. The best way to avoid this problem is to use one that has an angled bench (see video). This serves to place the body in the correct position with the pelvis / low back slightly downward and puts the hamstrings in pre-stretch (which allows for,a greater contraction). You also need to make sure the axis of rotation for unit is in line with the center of the knees and that the roller pad is on the calves, NOT the ankle. I would NOT use an older unit that has a flat bench or does not allow for proper placement of the roller pad. If you must use a flat bench an alternative is to roll up a large towel and place it in the front of the pelvis BUT it is NOT AS GOOD AS a properly designed machine.

Your second observation on the kneeling cable crunch is correct. Although, I would not recommend weighted spinal flexion without a full assessment to check for “flexion tolerance” and a previous injury history. Most flexion exercises under load with a rounded lumbar curve can lead to disc problems. I would advise a neutral spine but even more so to avoid the exercise (unless dealing with a well conditioned athlete whose sport requires weighted flexion positions) – if someone feels they must train in that position I would make sure they use a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio of extension / anti-flexion exercises to help protect against a flexion induced injury. The few times I have programmed this exercise into a routine I would place a properly sized (based on height) physioball between the support of the cable unit and the trainees lower back to encourage spinal extension during the eccentric phase and a full range of motion, using the surface of the ball as a guide.

I hope this answered your questions; have a great day!



For more information on why to avoid spinal flexion and examples of anti- flexion exercises, here are 2 blog posts that I wrote on abdominal training:



If you are on Facebook, you can visit and like the ADVANCED FITNESS CONCEPTS page where I post the latest info I find regarding: training, fitness, nutrition, and health.


You may need to be logged in to Facebook for the link to work, new Facebook security seems to prevent direct access unless you are logged in.

23. Anon - June 26, 2015

Excellent and informative. I can say with certainty that I’ve learned from this article

fitmontclair - April 17, 2016

Thank you very much! I am glad you enjoyed it and found it helpful. Sorry for the delayed reply, it appears I missed a bunch of comments. I am working hard to rectify that now.

Have a great day!


P.S. If you are interested in reading more, here is a link to my FREE article database of the all articles I have written:


If you are on Facebook, you can visit and like the ADVANCED FITNESS CONCEPTS page where I post the latest info I find regarding: training, fitness, nutrition, and health.


You may need to be logged in to Facebook for the link to work, new Facebook security seems to prevent direct access unless you are logged in.

24. YF - November 9, 2015

Dear author,

Thanks for sharing your opinions. However, my understanding (and extensive personal experience) is that the leg press is perfectly safe as long as proper form is maintained (just like any other exercise). As long as you maintain a 90 degree angle in your legs and keep your lumbar spine firmly pressed against the seat to prevent rounding there is minimal risk to the knees or disks. Note that even the barbell squat can be dangerous if proper form is not used. There is nothing uniquely bad about the leg press in this regard. Same goes for lateral raises. In fact, overhead presses may be harder on the shoulder joints than lateral raises.

25. Paul - January 9, 2016

Why are people so unwilling to accept that most of what they have been doing in the gym is pointless, a waste of time and actually dangerous?

I have done a lot if not all of them over the last 20 years and having stepped back, taken a while to be honest with myself I think the author of the article is correct. Useless, pointless and dangerous.

I trained with some of the world’s most famous athletes and yep I have seen some of them doing some of these exercises. The funny thing is that when you ask them or their coaches to rationalise them they really struggle.

It’s time people accepted that that what is functional and what society has taught them might look good are two different things.

If you want to be an athlete forget all those exercises included in the article. I’d also encourage people who want to know more about training to look elsewhere than or in addition to an undergraduate or post graduate sports science degree.

fitmontclair - January 9, 2016

Thanks Paul! You are 109% correct and I totally agree that to be functional, healthy,and athletic you need to avoid many popular cosmetic exercises. Also that best coaches / trainers have a combination of academic training, exercise specific certifications (from top respected organizations; not online multiple “guess” courses, and lots of hands on practical experience (best if it is under a qualified mentor) – thanks again for commenting and have a great day!! – Gordon

26. Isaac - January 25, 2016

Can you please recommend the best alternative to the leg press. I am a runner/cyclist and I want to complement my cardio training with good quality quad resistance training to maintain high strength. I do calve raises (obviously for my calves) as well as romanian deadlifts and lying leg curls for my hamstrings.

fitmontclair - January 26, 2016

Hi Isaac!

Thanks so much for reading my blog! I would be happy to give you what I consider good alternatives to the leg press. If you read the previous comments and you understand how the leg press is nonfunctional and leads to excessive compression in the lumbar spine. What you want to do is choose exercises that will enhance your running and prevent injuries – The leg press due to its stationary position is not a functional exercise. While it seems you are on a good program to maintain leg strength what I find common in many runners is an iimbalance between the quadriceps and hamstring’s; (with the quadriceps being dominant) and weakness in the anterior tibialis and Soleus muscles.

Distance running (not sprinting or obstacle courses) are predominately quadriceps and gastroc dependent motor programs. So your focus should be on improving strength ratio between the quadriceps and hamstring’s while increasing the strength of the Soleus & anterior tibialis. You want to choose exercises that are upright and also require balance and coordination for running requires both of those bio-motor abilities. I would definitely focus on full range squatting motions such as the front squat and the goblet squat (you do not have to perform the back squat to improve running but it is excellent if you can do it correctly). I would definitely include the Bulgarian split squat ( I find them to be more comfortable with a heavier load and easier on the knees then lunges) and step ups with either a barbell or dumbbell’s. Both exercises will improve your single leg strength and balance without placing excessive compression or shearing of the lumbar spine provided you keep your torso erect – dumbbells would be preferable if you are worried about lumbar compression or injury. You can also add in single leg squats or the Russian. “Pistol” squat with either body weight or a kettle bell. Another great technique, although it won’t impart as much strength to the legs as the above exercises with extra loading, would be to include some hills in your running course.

To strengthen the Soleus muscle you need to do seated calf raises since the muscle primarily works when the knee is flexed to 90°. I believe I already put a video in information on how to strengthen the anterior tibialis with a device called the D.A.R.D – although you can do Tibialis raises with a dumbbell between your feet, the D.A.R.D is really a unique and superior piece of equipment that also allows for comfort during the exercise. You can keep the Romanian deadlifts and leg curls but I would also add in the full deadlift and GHD raises. The best exercises are going to be multi joint, multi-muscle, multi-planar exercises that will have transference over to your running performance. I would avoid any sort of isolation / bodybuilding exercises like the leg extension, and seated leg curl (an exception would be the seated calf raise and tibialis raise just because it is hard to train them with compound movements if they are underdeveloped) – just remember if you isolate you then have to integrate, so once you bring up any weak muscles the big compound movements of the squat, split squat , and step up are absolutely necessary. You can find videos of all these exercises on YouTube or any good training manual. If you have any other questions don’t hesitate to ask!

Stay strong and have a great day!


27. isaac - January 26, 2016

Hi Gordon,

Thanks for your reply. Could i email you or could you direct me to a link where i can flick my weekly gym work out to you. I am comfortable with my running and cycling programme but i would like some feedback on my resistance training???


fitmontclair - January 27, 2016

Hi Isaac,

You can email me at: Gordon@advanced-fitness-concepts.com

Or you can post the routine here and it may help answer question he others may have.


28. rob harmon - March 5, 2016

Great e-mail thread for learning! I have trained (not worked out) off and on for 50 years now. (Started when I was 12.) Though not formally degreed in all the related sciences, I have studied on my own, the science of resistance exercise training.
Every injury case mentioned above I have heard about, read about, and even been warned about by exercise therapists. (after three shoulder and one elbow surgery.)
Everyone has an opinion. Mine is if you are not trying to compete in a sport that requires additional body mass and super strength, there is no need for the use of heavy weight training. It invites injury not just from the basic movement of an exercise but many people do not use proper form, perform cheat movements to lift heavier, and have no idea of what are the best exercises for a body part and what order to do them in. Related to diet, you cannot out train a poor diet. And poor diet affects bones, joints and muscles. And last, REST! Many people do too many exercises, spend too much time on a weight training session, and do not get enough rest between hard workouts. Which is not unusual as many athletes over train. When you rest and your body has the right nutrients, it is “healing” from your training.
Moderation is very important. I just wished I had learned that before I got to the 62 year old mark.

I love your passion, Gordon. Keep the faith.

Regards, Rob in Austin

fitmontclair - March 27, 2016

Hi Rob,

Thanks for reading and commenting! With all your knowledge and experience you should be writing & coaching. Everything you say is on the mark with regards to keeping proper form to prevent injuries, rest & recovery, and of course nutrition – you are 100% dead on target that you can’t out exercise a bad diet!

The number one compliance problem I have with people is not exercise but it is sleep and most of all NUTRITION! People refuse to believe that “you are what you eat, and YOU ARE WHAT YOUR FOOD EATS!”

Thanks again for taking the time to comment and your support!

Stay strong and have a great day!


29. Andrew Noble - March 18, 2016

This guy has no idea what he’s talking about and I really hope no one takes his advice. This is yet another example of how much misinformation there is out there regarding the fitness community.

fitmontclair - March 27, 2016

Hi Andrew,

Thanks for reading my blog and commenting…HOWEVER of the 40,147 people who have read this post you are one of four that disagree with my information. At least unlike the other three you expressed yourself in a coherent manner and presented your opinion somewhat politely, thank you.

Yet you failed to provide any information, specifics, counter arguments, and any form of empirical or published scientific research backing your claim.

Being that I have been in the fitness industry professionally for over 16 years and have amassed thousands of hours of academic and professional study I hold that everything I have written is valid and true. If you read any of the additional comments from readers who asked questions I always provided a detailed answer and usually with links to further information and or published material backing up any statement I made.

Since I quote and provide links to material backing my statements from many of the industries top professionals such as: Gray Cook, Dan John, Mike Mahler, Mike Robertson, Nick Tumminello, Dr. Stuart McGill, Charles Poliquin, Mike Boyle, Paul Chek, and many others you must also disagree with them and feel they are lacking in knowledge and that people should not listen to them either….

While I never ask people to follow me blindly, I do believe I provide solid information from a strong professional background which includes:

BS Summa Cum Laude Exercise Physiology, Cum Laude Physical Education
MA Exercise Science
NSCA Certified strength and conditioning specialist
NASM Performance enhancement specialist
NASM Corrective exercise specialist
USAW certified sports performance coach
ACE medical exercise specialist & orthopedic specialist
FMS Certified functional movement screen specialist
AFAA Advanced personal trainer certification
CHEK Institute Exercise coach and nutrition & lifestyle consultant

Practical work experience including cardiac rehabilitation at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Mountanside Hospital. Physical therapy aide and training specialist positions at Athletic Rehab and Bernardsville physical therapy.

I served as Fitness Director & Head Trainer for the areas largest commercial gym for 6 1/2 years. In addition I am now going into my 11th year having my own training and consulting practice of which I do zero advertising for I receive referrals from more than satisfied customers. I work for no commercial fitness industries and I sell no products or have any other form of income other than my training practice. I make my living solely 100% off my training knowledge and skills, which would be impossible if according to you “I did not know what I was doing” and did not get results

I wrote the exercise specialist column and articles for Men’s Exercise magazine, and the performance specialist column for Exercise for Men only magazines for over two years as well as an exercise and health column for the Town Medical Assoc. newsletter which was reviewed and fact checked by the chief medical officer of the practice.

So I am quite sound in my belief that whatever I write is truthful and accurate. If you would care to list your fitness industry accomplishments and resume I would be happy to debate any questions you have in a civil, educated manner, I will NOT reply to, or publish ANY abusive, unsubstantiated, crude, or disrespectful replies (from anyone). My blog is designed to educate, inform, and discuss any of the topics I have written about; it is not a forum for bickering, insults, and childish behavior.

Again thank you for reading my blog but without further insight into what you disagree with I can make no other statements or recommendations. I’m sorry that you are in the very small minority that disagree this information but you have a right to your opinion however misguided and incorrect it may be.

Have a nice day!


30. Sadat Bazai - July 17, 2016

Wonderful article supported by most comprehensive reasoning. Wud really appreciate if you gave your advice on soccer-specific training for lower body ( esp if sheer strength, not hypertrophy, is the goal). Thanx

31. fitmontclair - July 18, 2016

Hi Sadat!

Thanks so much for reading my blog; glad you enjoyed it! I will put together some info & sources for soccer training, for now you should concentrate on 5 reps with 3 – 5 minutes rest between sets for strength without hypertrophy. You may also want to periodize training so that after strength training you work on explosiveness with tools like: Olympic style weightlifting, plyometrics, and sprinting. I am a big fan of sprints for soccer (football / futball for all the non-North American readers) – it builds total body strength, speed, and has direct application to the sport (you don’t jog / trot to the ball (unless you are slowing down the play or running out the clock)

Have a great day!


32. tae ka - August 18, 2016

You should probabably change your choice of words about the belt usage, why? Because I use belts but I am not a professional strongman/powerlifter and I am also not competing in such competitions but I still lift heavy like a 600 lbs deadlift which I can do for 5×5. I respect your opinions but it really doesn’t apply to everyone.

fitmontclair - September 2, 2016

Hi Tae,

Sorry for the delay in my response, I was away for several weeks. Thanks so much for reading and commenting on my blog.

First, let me congratulate you on an AWESOME deadlift! Even though you don’t officially compete using a belt for that lift is fine if it helps you. I am not anti-belt wearing for people who use weightlifting as their primary form of exercise or sport competition. As always the “devil is in the details” and you are right n that it does not apply to everyone…If you only use the belt for max lifts and properly brace the abdomen, then the belt can be a useful tool – my dislike of belt usage is for sports that do not allow belts during competition because learning to exert force while only using a belt can leave athletes open to injury; especially if they are taught to “push out” against the belt instead of being taught proper bracing using their abdominals and deep core musculature. Also for people who use the belt for every set of every exercise including things like bicep curls instead of only their max lifts belt usage is laughable and does nothing but show how little they know about real weightlifting (you do NOT sound like one of those types..)

Younger & novice lifters should be taught proper lifting techniques without a belt and should not be attempting max lifts for several years (and depending on their sport / goals they may not need to do max singles etc). If you watched any of the weight lifting during the recent Olympics or the past several Olympic games many of the athletes, especially those from Asia and Europe did not wear a belt for many of the winning lifts, and several set world records without using a belt.

Of course I never ask anyone to believe me or follow me blindly, so here is a 2013 article from T-nation where world class performance trainer & powerlifter Mike Robertson agrees with everything in my post about using a lifting belt. He is also joined by other top trainers: Tim Henriques, Dan Trink, and Todd Bumgardner all who echo my thoughts on using a lifting belt.


Here is another good article on spinal mechanics, alignment and weightlifting that does not include belt usage but using proper bracing techniques:


Thanks again for commenting, it is good dialogue that expresses different methods & opinions that really make my blog helpful and informative to the readers!

Keep up the great work!


33. cman - December 19, 2016

Hey great article. I have been doing the smith machine squat and leg press because im trying to increase glute size. Now my right leg bone hurts every time I do smith machine squats so im not doing them anymore. My gym doesn’t have a squat rack. Are there any safer excersices I can do to increase glute size. I also do barbell glute bridges. I enjoyed your article. Plz respond 🙂

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