To do or not to do, this is the question of the day.
I get a lot of questions about exercises you should or shouldn’t do – call them contraindicated if u may. Some of the most popular contraindicated exercises are:
- Good Mornings
- Crunches / Sit-ups
- Behind the Neck Press
I can biomechanically explain why each of these exercises can sometimes be problematic but I’d rather spend my time explaining how to assess and manage movement via feedback to ensure safe and effective programming.
First things first, People are contraindicated, not exercises.That being said, this doesn’t mean I believe these exercises should often be prescribed. It means that clients and trainers must determine whether to use a given exercise based on a risk to benefits analysis. To that end, perform the following:
- Needs / gaps analysis: will this movement help achieve a specified fitness, function or performance goal? Or will it uniquely fill a gap that exists? YES or NO
- Safety: Can the client “manage (see below)” this movement well YES or NO
- Effectiveness: is this movement more effective than other, potentially safer variants YES or NO
Based on the above, the appropriateness of a movement is based on need and the client’s “ability” to successfully repeat without pain, major instability or restriction. In many cases, when measured against goals and ability, most exercises should be excluded or regressed.
In this sense the foundation for any analysis is assessment. But knowing what to assess, again, requires more movement analysis. First, determine what movements are required, particularly the portions of the movement that most people struggle with performing well. Therefore, before deciding against a goal specific exercise, remember the following:
- Assess don’t guess…
- The leader of one biomechanically sound rep is the leader of many
Based on the above there are a lot of people who shouldn’t perform “behind the neck lat pulldowns” but there are many people who have the ability to successfully perform this movement. Below we will briefly examine & relate exercise selection to the:
- biomechanical elements for success in each movement
- a safe and effective method to measure the ability / element
- what to do when the ability doesn’t exist
This isn’t a Prepair2Perform article so will focus less on assessment and more on how to recognize movement is compromised, along with the most appropriate regressions to avoid the major compensational issues. No matter what movement, analyze what’s required for success, the benefits and then manage the 6 killers with assessment and proper progression. The nashFIT & NASM models below outline the principle of progression and therefore illustrate the essence of managing functional killers: