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There are so many exercises you can do in your workouts but these 5 in particular are ones you are going to want to swap out right away. In this video, I’m going to show you the five most popular exercises that deserve to be replaced with alternatives that are not just more effective but safer in the process.
The first of these exercises is the lat pulldown. While this is a great exercise for building the lats it just isn’t the most functional or powerful movement you can do if you want to train like an athlete. The same can be said for the king of the bodyweight exercises, the pullup. The pullup has your body suspended off the bar hanging freely. There is no grounding of the feet and therefore no power transfer up the kinetic chain. With the one arm cable pulldown however, all is improved. You are not only standing up but you’re letting the abs and lats work together as they prefer to while getting a much better stretch on the lat muscles on every rep.
Next up is the seated dumbbell shoulder press. Once again, you lose a big amount of athleticism the second you sit on the bench to perform this exercise. Beyond that, you are driving your back into the pad and disrupting the normal scapular rotation that should occur when you lift your arm above your head. The easy swap here is to perform this exercise standing. Even better, clean the dumbbells off the floor at the start of every set for an even more functional exercise without compromising the growth of your shoulders.
Next is the back squat. In no way is the back squat a bad exercise. The problem with it however is that it can hide a lot of mobility and flexibility restrictions that could make performing it long term an unwise idea. Instead, if you swap to the front squat you will see very quickly what areas and restrictions you have that need to be fixed. Maybe your thoracic extension is limited. Maybe your ankles lack mobility. Whatever the issue you will want to reveal it with the front squat and then fix it before returning to back squatting.
Next is the upright row. This is a flat out terrible exercise for your shoulders. While some may like the benefits it provides the delts in terms of growth there is no debating the punishment it places on your shoulder joint over time. There is a quick and easy fix however and that is to swap it out with the dumbbell high pull exercise shown in this video. The act of externally rotating the shoulder rather than internally rotating it is enough to turn this exercise from bad to good quickly.
The dumbbell fly is another potential long term shoulder killer by artificially stressing the anterior shoulder capsule under an insecure load. On top of that, it’s again a non functional pressing exercise since it removes a good deal of the cooperation from the rest of your body by having you lay down on a bench. Stand up and perform the 3D crossover instead. You will still get the horizontal adduction of the arm that the fly is known for while protecting the shoulder joint and getting muscles to work together that prefer to in the first place.
The concentration curl is an added bonus. Once again, training your biceps is always going to involve some version of a curl. That is what your elbow joint does. That said, this is the worst one you can do. There is absolutely no functional carryover at all. Stand up and curl those dumbbells together at the same time. This will require the entire core to work harder than if you were to curl one dumbbell at a time.
These 5 exercise swaps are just the beginning of what it means to train like an athlete. If you want a complete program to get you training, and gaining, like an athlete right away then head to and get the ATHLEAN-X Training System. I
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