The response to the first half of my list of 5 ½ Women’s Fitness Exercises to Avoid was awesome!
Some people wrote me to tell me I forgot the last 2 ½ (don’t worry, I didn’t forget them- they’re in this blog post!)
Some wrote me to tell me they never knew Smith machine squats were not “the best and safest” way to barbell squat.
Some told me I opened their eyes to the dangers of bench dips.
I’m happy to have helped you guys realize there are better ways to workout than what the mainstream media is trying to feed us with regards to “women’s exercises”! We know that phrase is BS, so here are the last 2 ½ exercises you can start ignoring.
Offender #4: BOSU Ball Squats
Reason: Unstable surface training for the lower body has limited effectiveness outside of rehab contexts, anytime you make an exercise more challenging for stability, you take away from the work for the main muscles; and by definition you’re getting moved into and out of improper form over and over again (if knees caved in is bad squat form, why would it be good to do that on a blue ball?)
Alternative: Any other squat variation would be an improvement. If you want to get a stability challenge your lower body that is more effective for training, go for single leg training. Split squats, lunge variations, Bulgarian split squats, and single leg deadlift variations immediately come to mind.
Offender #5: Most things done with a stability ball
Reason: There are some great exercises you can do with stability balls, especially for your core. But not every exercise should be bastardized to morph into a core exercise. As mentioned above with BOSU squats, the increase in stability challenge decreases how much work the target muscles can do. I don’t care if your core is challenged more when you press 15 lb dumbbells on a ball than when you press 30 lbs on a bench, the point of a press is to press.
Alternative: Let your core exercises be your core exercises and let other exercises be their own thing too. Keep bench presses on the bench (or as floor presses on the floor), hip thrusts using benches (or as glute bridges on the floor), so on and so forth. If an exercise is too easy, go heavier. Stability balls are great for more “pure” core exercises like roll outs, advanced plank variations, jackknives and pikes. I also like them for training the hamstrings in supine hip extension and leg curls (SHELCs), because those are a tough movement pattern to train otherwise and the stability demand is relatively minor. But moral of the story, sometimes when you combine 2 good ideas, the end result can be kinda crappy.
Offender #5 ½ : Stability exercises where the stability ball is used as an actual weight…as in something you lift!
Reason: It’s a ball filled with air. What is that – 5 lbs tops? This is a prime example of the subtle sexism in many women’s fitness programs – you can move more than 5 lbs.
Alternative: Pretty much anything else, unless you really find those exercises to be really fun. In which case, go for it!
I hope this two part series was helpful for pointing out where you may currently be held back in your workouts and some ways that you can move forward towards better results.