I find it so difficult to answer: today I was presented with a noteworthy strength book. A book that is full of research, backed to the hilt with peer reviewed papers and if I’m honest the same exercises I was reading about in Flex magazine in the early 1990’s.
Triceps Press down
Standing Calf Raise
Shrug or Lower back machine
30 years earlier than my own Flex magazine days Arnie et al weren’t doing too much different…
If these exercises have stood such a test of time then who am I to suggest that they are not good exercises?
My interest is not how good the exercises are… but HOW WELL THE PERSON CAN DO THE EXERCISE… as this simply determines the benefits a person can get from any such exercise.
Having worked with power lifters who fail simple muscle tests in lats, abs and shoulder muscles - only to find them overusing jaw, pelvic floor and grip strength - suggests that the exercise neurologically in this case is not working out the intended muscles but the person is using whatever means they can to achieve the initial intention of the exercise.
Has that person a previous injury history that has lead to a neurological adaptation in the system whereby they have learnt to bypass the movement in the exercise with a now less than optimal movement? They might drop one knee in during a squat to aid the lowering and return to upright position. They might rotate the thoracic spine to the left to ensure they get the bar back up. They might sit up with a neck instead of the abdominals…
So are these exercises “right for me” cannot be answered without deeper investigation to how your nervous system is willing to play the game of satisfying the particular ‘good’ lift or movement.
Couple this thought process with my visit to a gym here in Cala Millor this week and I swear every single people in the gym were intent on injuring themselves!!! Including the guy handing out the programmes...
If the exercises were good enough for Arnie, they are good enough for everyone but if your physical, biomechanics and neural systems aren’t up for the task then the exercise becomes ‘good’ for absolutely nothing…"
- Gary Ward - Anatomy in Motion
(There are so many things in the photo I chose for this piece that I feel are of no value to the person doing them...but she most likely feels like she's "doing" the yoga posture...this is not the most important thing in my teaching.)