3 Popular Exercises I Am No Longer Using

3 Popular Exercises I Am No Longer Using

It’s almost 10 years since I wrote one of my most popular articles on this website, My Top 5 LEAST Favorite Exercises.

I still dislike all of those exercises, and today I wanted to share 3 more exercises that I am not going to use anymore. These are pretty popular exercises, so I expect many to disagree with me. I actually have no problem with you using these exercise, I just wanted to share some reasons why I have started to critically assess the value of them, and have considered not performing them anymore

 

Side Planks

Woah, I’m starting by throwing out a haymaker! Side planks?!? But everyone needs side planks!

Side planks are actually a great exercise for the core, and fairly common staple in people’s core programs. But over the years I have found that many people have complained about the impact the side plank position has on their shoulders.

So I would modify their programs. And then it would happen with someone else. And someone else.

I think the position has the shoulder abducted slightly below 90 degrees of abduction and then puts full body weight through the joint in a super orientated force vector:

So I’ve added side planks as an exercise I’m not going to be using much in the future. There are variations that may work that place less strain on the shoulder, like the feet-off-the-bench variation, but other functional activities like weighted carries can likely provide a similar treatment or training effect, while not irritating the shoulder.

Now, realize I am biased. I work with a lot of people with shoulder pain and hypermobility. So perhaps my population tend to not handle them as well. But if my population doesn’t, maybe your population won’t either.

 

TRX Y’s

Next up is the TRX Y. I love the TRX, and the TRX Rip Trainer, two great devices. But I’ve always felt uncomfortable when performing a shoulder Y exercise using the TRX.

The shoulder Y is designed to incorporate upward rotation of the scapula, protraction, and posterior tilt of the scapula. It’s a great exercise for the lower trapezius.

However, when performed on the TRX, the Y exercises is drastically different, involving more scapular retraction and upward shrugging. Plus, the Y exercise is much more subtle, using your body weight, even at an angle, simply overloads the exercise and causes compensation. I think this promotes poor habits.

Just because two exercises may look the same, like the TRX Y and the Prone Y, doesn’t mean they have the same effect on the body.

 

Hip Flexor Stretch

My 3rd exercise is the wall hip flexor stretch. I’ve been pretty vocal on the fact that many people do this stretch poorly, hyperextending their back and placing more stress on their anterior hip capsule than on their hip flexors.

I popularized the use of the True Hip Flexor Stretch to help people shift focus on the right structures.

But even I sometimes felt that some people were Ok to do the standard wall stretch if they were “loose enough.”

You know what, I think those loose people actually just compensated more, like in the below video. So if we are really working on the flexibility of the hip flexors or on anterior pelvic tilt, I think we should all probably be sticking to a variation of the true hip flexor stretch and maybe just leaning forward more, than going back to the wall.

 

I really want to hear what you think, hit the comments below and let me know if you agree, disagree, or have more to add to this list! I don’t hate these exercises for everyone, but for now, these are a few I’m going to use less frequently.

 

 

22 replies
  1. Jason Handschuamcher, DPT, OCS
    Jason Handschuamcher, DPT, OCS says:

    The True hip flexor stretch is the way to go – I use it all the time with the folks who can kneel.. I work with a lot of post op spine pt. and folks with lumbar stenosis. One thing I add is the IR component; the hip flexors are secondary external rotators – so I have people rotate the foot outwards (hip IR) as the stretch

    I’m with you on side planks too – maybe just asking for a shoulder issue in the future

    Reply
  2. Matt
    Matt says:

    Mike,

    I’ve never used the wall hip flexor stretch, so that one’s easy for me to say I’ll never use again. I’ve had the same issue with patients complaining of shoulder discomfort with side planks. What I usually do is change the position so the shoulder is abducted to just under 90 deg with a little bit of shoulder ER and cue for a “+” position getting scapular abduction and mild upward rotation. That typically helps them in multiple ways: 1. Getting some serratus activity and 2. More joint compression instead of shear. On the TRX, I kind of lik the Y’s when they are appropriate, meaning the patient can feel activation in their mid/low traps instead of posterior delts. But they have to progress there from prone Y’s first. Thanks for the thoughts!

    Reply
  3. Denise
    Denise says:

    I have many patients who can’t kneel so will do hip flexor stretch standing with opposite foot on a step, and can add a same side reach to better elongate it. Just have to watch so don’t extend lumbar but works well and can modify this to most patients. Never a fan of side bridges. Don’t give patients the TRX Y, most can’t do it or at least correctly and I like to give things they can do at home.

    Reply
      • Cody Bello SPT
        Cody Bello SPT says:

        Mike, I had my CI tell that performing Y’s with (incline bench, TRX etc.) are pointless for lower trap because people never get to endrange. I perform them now on the floor on my stomach; do you think this variation is more effective? do you think prone off table is better?

        Reply
  4. Mario
    Mario says:

    Mike,
    I’m glad to see this post. I agree with y9ou 100%. Side planks always gave my shoulders a hard time. One of the other compensations that I see often in the high school kids that I work with is lumbar extension. I think that sometimes we do exercises for the sake of doing them and lose sight of the true goal. Thanks for all the work you do.

    Reply
  5. Keith Allen
    Keith Allen says:

    Thank you, the first two make perfect sense to leave behind and so does the the hip flexor stretch. But I can’t imagine ditching that one right now, cause i just dialed good joint centration with it. I’ve been getting clients to centrate and keep glute engaged, ribs down or whatever, but coaching not to drive the hip forward. And oddly enough I just started getting into a mobilization from there too, rocking back into the hip and then finding rec fem, moving in that way. What are your thoughts on those things, if you have a minute?

    Reply
  6. Joe Miller
    Joe Miller says:

    You are definitely right about the errors with the exercises. I still use these when appropriate on a case by case basis and part of a progression of activity. I would say the title for the article should be 3 Popular Exercise I Use Only When Appropriate. Just because they are popular doesn’t mean they are right for everyone. Thanks for posting.

    Reply
  7. Cody Bello SPT
    Cody Bello SPT says:

    Mike, I had my CI tell that performing Y’s with (incline bench, TRX etc.) are pointless for lower trap because people never get to endrange. I perform them now on the floor on my stomach; do you think this variation is more effective? do you think prone off table is better?

    Reply
    • Mike Reinold
      Mike Reinold says:

      Good CI! Don’t love the floor, the motion is upward rotation and posterior tilt of the scap. On stomach, you’re kinda forcing it past end range and compensating. Table is best.

      Reply
  8. Dave Langenthal
    Dave Langenthal says:

    Great article Mike! The side plank explanation is spot on, breaking down the vector angle makes a lot more sense as to why people can feel discomfort with them. Suitcase variations all day!

    Reply

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