The “right” and “wrong” ways to do an exercise.

I was training a person the other day, when they asked me a common question…

“Whats the right way to do a situp?”

The short answer to this is “there isn’t one“…the long answer is:

There is probably a million different ways to do a situp or crunch, and none of them are right, and none of them are wrong…they are just different.  Some versions will be:

  • easier/harder,
  • less/more effective,
  • less/more suitable for people with injuries,
  • lower/higher risk of injuries,
  • less/more suitable for static or dynamic purposes.

The version you use will depend entirely on your current abilities and the ultimate outcome you want. The way I think of it, the “right” exercise is the one you can:

  • perform safely
  • perform effectively
  • achieves your desired results.

The “wrong” exercises are those that don’t tick the above 3 boxes. For example, I’ve seen a person who was standing bolt upright, holding a 1 kg weight and swinging her arm back and forth from the shoulder.  When asked what she was doing, she said she was trying to work on her triceps (bingo wings).

Because this exercise ticks only 1 of the above criteria (it is safe, it’s not effective and won’t achieve her desired results), this is the wrong exercise. BUT… if she said she was warming up her shoulders and trying to maintain/improve shoulder mobility, then all 3 boxes would be ticked (it is safe, it is effective and will achieve her desired results), and this would now be the right exercise.

Different ways to exercise are like different tools in your toolbox.  A hammer is the wrong tool to screw in a screw…but that does not mean the hammer is a rubbish tool and you should throw it away.  It is a fantastic tool, in the right context. The take home message is, don’t do an exercise because it looks cool and someone down the pub or on TV told you to do it…do it because it:

  • is safe for you
  • is effective for you
  • achieves your desired result.

Now go away and enjoy yourself 🙂