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Avoid these 5 exercises and moves that may be sabotaging your workouts with poor results. They can lead to short-term injuries as well as lasting health problems and delay you from realizing your fitness goals.

Crunches – There is an entire generation of back-pain suffers who thought they could get a flat belly by doing countless crunches. I’ll be the first to raise my hand to doing this unnecessary exercise. They are similar to doing sit-ups with the exception that you are not raising your upper torso all the way to your knees. The unfortunate fact is that crunches put a lot of torque and strain on the lower back and over time can lead to constant back pain.

Do these instead: To get a flat belly and not put undue strain on your lower back planks are the best exercise. There are several variations to this movement which are effective but traditional planks will do the job. Simply lie prone on a flat surface then raise up on your elbows. Raise your body off the floor so that you are resting on your elbows and toes. Put a slight upward bend in your lower back and keep your abs as taught. Hold as long as possible.

Lat pull downs – These exercises are great for developing your upper back muscles and a good way to put tension on your abs. However, all too often I see exercisers doing them wrong. They are pulling the bar down behind the neck. By doing it this way they are putting a lot of stress your spine and putting your shoulders in a compromised position.

Do this instead: The best and most effective way to do lat-pull downs is to pull the bar down towards the front of your chest. Bend your upper torso slightly back and pull the bar down. Always use weights that are light enough to do your repetitions with good form or range of motion (ROM).

Leg press machine – This machine can be found in most gyms and the reason for that is can be effective in giving your leg muscles a good pump . . . when done correctly. The problem is that many exercisers use the machine incorrectly. When pushing from a sitting position there is a tendency to push your neck forward. This is a poor position to be in when pushing weight. Your back should be flat or with a slight curvature where your upper shoulders are pressing against the seat padding and keeping your neck in proper alignment with your spine.

Do this instead: The best way to exercise your leg muscles is doing the traditional squats. Always use weights that allow you to complete the exercise with proper range of motion. If needed, ask someone to spot you throughout the movement.

Side-bends with weights This is a useless exercise where you hold a weight in one hand while you do a bend in the opposite direction. Basically, you are building a thick waist and possibly putting your back in a compromised position.

Do this instead: The best way to exercise your oblique muscles is to do side planks. They can be done either on your elbows or doing them with a straight-arm. Hold each side for as long as possible.

Leg extension machine The main purpose of doing leg extensions is to develop your quadriceps (muscles at the front of your thighs). The problem is it puts too much pressure on your knees and lower back. I have been guilty of using this machine many times in the past only to suffer the consequences later with bad knees.

Do this instead: – As mentioned above, the best way to pump up your entire legs muscles is to do squats with proper range of motion. You are exercising your quads, hamstrings, and calves with one movement. Lately, I have been doing weighted lunges which is the best alternative to squats.

There are more exercises and movements to avoid that can lead to long-term physical problems, however, those mentioned here are what I see regularly.

Remember – when doing any exercise . . . use proper range of motion for best results to stay injury free.

I have been focusing on my flexibility these days because my joints and muscles are causing me issues. Try the method that’s really effective and that I have been doing. It’s called the Hyperbolic Stretching. Check it out here.

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