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Do Bad Exercises Exist?

I used to think that chest flys were bad for your shoulder.

I used to think that certain ways of squatting were bad for your knees.

And a lot of people believe deadlifts are bad for your back.

But like most statements like this, it’s a gross oversimplification of an exercise to just say, “it’s bad” or “it’s dangerous”. Why can one person pick up 600lbs with no pain, while another throws out their back when they reach down to tie their shoe?

The difference is tolerance. Person A has built up tolerance in their, spine, hips, and back to be able to handle such a feat, while Person B built up enough intolerance that simply bending forward was enough to injure themselves.

An unfortunate amount of the time, health professionals recommend avoiding certain movements for a supposed increased risk of injury. But it’s been proven time and time again that those that train to be stronger and more durable in a variety of joint positions are those that are the most injury-proof.

So no, deadlifts are not bad for your back, and squats are not bad for your knees. They may be contraindicated at certain times depending on your condition, but you should always be focused on what you can do and slowly progressing over time.

There is no such thing as a bad exercise. How you program and perform a movement, and why you’re doing it are much more important factors to consider. Remember this the next time someone tells you in the most general and uninformed sense, that “I don’t do those because they’re bad for your (insert joint here).”

If you’re not sure of how to progress and regress movements to a point where you’re able to do them pain-free, that’s where a qualified coach comes in. A good one will always tell you what you can do, not what you can’t.

If that sounds good to you, book your free consultation call today.

Until then, have a happy new year!

-Coach Stephen


Getting started can be a tough thing to do, and the main reason is that people don’t know where to start, (especially when it comes to something as complex as deadlifting and protecting yourself from injury).

That’s where I come in.

Regardless of whether you live in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) and can do in-person coaching with me or you live anywhere else in the world and can do online coaching, I can put a plan in place to help you get to where you need to be.

For more information, check out my coaching options or what my clients have to say.


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