2 Bodyweight Exercises You Should Never Do (and 1 you should tweak)


Picking the right exercise for the right client is an extremely important part of being a trainer. And although I believe there is no such thing as a bad exercise, just a bad choice of exercise for a client here are two bodyweight exercises that I just can’t see any good reason to do them.

2 Bodyweight Exercises You Should Never Do and 1 you should tweak

#1 – Bench Dip

The first is the bench dip. In a previous blog post I covered how to improve your form with traditional dips as a lot of times people are doing them wrong. But as far as bench dips go, they are just wrong for your clients to be doing.

First of all you have them internally rotated at the shoulders, which limits the space in the glenohumeral joint and increases the chance of shoulder impingement. Strike one. It also increases the shear forces in the anterior capsule of the shoulder, which can lead to damage of the tendons and ligaments. That’s strike two. And last but not least, using a bench to do dips causes most clients to protract their scapulae, again putting immense stress on the shoulders. Strike three, bench dips are out!

Did you notice that not once did I mention stressing the triceps? So from a risk to reward stand point, never doing this again with a client is a no brainer. With so many other options to train the triceps much more effectively, I’m left asking the question “Why?”

Here is a video where Rick Kaselj, talks about it a little more:

Click Here to watch the Video on YouTube.

#2 – Crunches & Sit-ups

The second exercise is one that there has been much debate over the past couple of years, with most people taking a hard stance one-way or the other. Crunches and sit-ups have been under attack for a while now, but before I give you my opinion I think it’s only fair that we clear the confusion first.

Stuart McGill never said that crunches would herniate discs; he’s been saying that there are much better ways to train the core. And for those of you that try to bring up the pig spine study, remember that in that study they were taking the spine to end range repeatedly. And taking any joint to end range repeatedly will damage it. Another thing to think about is that the spine was naked; there were no supporting muscles to help with the movement.

So looking at the science, and knowing that there are way more effective ways to train the core why would you ever do sit ups? Besides that fact, what’s the one exercise that virtually every human being on the planet knows how to do? Yup, crunches! Don’t you believe that part of our job is to educate our client on what’s best for them? And we all know that crunches are not going to give anyone a six-pack, so stop giving them to your client and teach them a much better way to work the abdominals. And that’s why you should never have you clients do crunches again.

In this video, Rick Kaselj chats about what to do other than crunches:

Click Here to watch the video on YouTube.

Tweak This Exercise…

The last exercise I want to touch on is box jumps. Now before you get defensive, I think that box jumps are a great exercise to help develop power and explosiveness in our clients, unless you are doing them like this:

135 lb Over Head BOX JUMP (DO NOT do this)

CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video.

We start losing our ability to generate power quite young, so it is vital to have all your clients doing some type of power training. Heck, I have clients in their 60’s doing box jumps, but what I don’t want my clients to do is jump back down off the box. Have you ever heard the sound an Achilles makes when it snaps? Trust me, you don’t so stop getting your clients jumping down after a box jump.

Jumping off of a box or platform is a great way to teach people how to decelerate and land, but if that’s the goal of the exercise have the concentrate on just that.

Your client has a short attention span, and as they get tired they are going to only focus on jumping on the box, not jumping off and landing softly. So if you’re going to use box jumps in your programs, make sure to have your client step back down. I’m pretty sure your client wants to keep their Achilles attached.

So to sum up this post, stop doing bench dips and sit ups and if you’re using box jumps make sure your client steps back down. If not, don’t be surprised if Chuck Norris appears in your gym and slaps you across the face for making every personal trainer out there look bad.

If you are health & fitness professional and looking for a resource that gives you the tools and exercises to help yourself and your client move better and get great results, then check out Bodyweight Corrective Exercises, here:

Scott Rawcliffe

Bodyweight Workouts 101