It’s unlike me to write anything controversial I know ( 🙂 ) but occasionally I feel the need.
Some will say that a little information is dangerous in the wrong hands and sure I am no expert but I do like to be as thorough as I can. And it’s a never-ending process, you can always improve. So there’s the arse-coverage….
I picked up a glossy, expensive Mens magazine last weekend to see a 2-page spread dedicated to an un-named local fitness “expert” showing the world everything he doesn’t know about his trade. It was, well, sad. There were 4 exercises, every one of them poorly executed. I was so shocked that a guy that I know pretty well, who has his limits and he (sometimes) acknowledges that, would have his name and body (as he was the one in the photo’s) demonstrate, so utterly indescribably badly, 4 basic exercises. Shocking. And this guy is popular, he is very successful, due to his winning some bodybuilding events. There we go again, bodybuilding 😦
It goes to prove that a lot of people don’t do their homework. I mean even a cursory understanding of lifting basics would suggest putting anything under your heels when squatting makes no sense whatsoever. I know the reply from the imbeciles that practice this is, “you can lift heavier!”. No shit Sherlock! Your posterior chain is not working correctly so tricking it into lifting heavy, by decreasing range of motion for one, is amateur-hour so who are you trying to trick? Long term you are shortening muscles and decreasing glute involvement and what would be the result of that? Hamstring tears for one. This whole thing of putting weight plates, or bits of wood or whatever, under heels, is quite simply wrong. Funnily enough it is not dissimilar to running shoes with high heel supports. Checkout my post on Vibram’s, para 5, Listen, take a look at your running shoes, how high is the support in the heel? 2cm? 3cm?? Whether your foot strikes heel, mid or for …..This is a very similar scenario to putting something under your heels when squatting (the high heel support in running shoes), as what results in both cases is hamstring shortening and limiting glute involvement resulting in injury. Bad, bad!!
What about lunging in a Smith machine? Is your body the machine we are supposed to be working or is the Smith machine the thing WE are working? I mean any exercise you do that involves the user (us) having to adapt to it (the machine), in this case the Smith will result in an adaptation that suits the machine. Make sense? Er, NO!!! Adaptation is what WE need, so why are we forcing ourselves to use machines that dictate to us range of motion and ultimately, adaptation that suits it? This will again, result in one situation, INJURY because our muscles/joints/kinetic chain will adapt incorrect movement patterns and resulting muscle imbalances will result in INJURY!
There were 2 other exercises he showed the reader. Being someone that doesn’t particularly like negative images I have managed to forget them, Thankfully. But they did involve using machines.
The take home message here. PLEASE.DON’T.USE.MACHINES. Ok sometimes they have their place. Used sparingly they won’t do too much damage. But here’s a warning. If your trainer or if you yourself use machines regularly in the gym, beware. You will limit your achievements and you will increase your chances of injury.