Yes, there are five strength training exercises that many consider to be overrated…but they aren’t.
Some of the reasons I’ve read why these five strength training exercises are over-rated are just plain crazy.
The first is the deadlift. On another site a personal trainer labeled this as over-rated because, as he believed, it’s a very difficult movement that should be reserved for those who had hit the genetic lottery by having perfect body proportions for the deadlift.
I don’t have perfect anthropometrics for the deadlift. Yet I’ve never injured myself doing this.
The deadlift should be removed from the “over-rated” list because:
• It prepares a person for real-life lifting. So many times I’ve had to pick heavy things off the ground—and did this with ease, thanks to my deadlift training.
• Incites major fat-burning when done intensely.
• Will mitigate low back pain that’s caused by de-conditioning.
The trainer also said that people do not need to lift things that are only eight inches off the floor in order to get a good posterior chain workout.
In a deadlift, the Olympic bar is eight inches off the floor. I have news for you: In a real life situation that requires lifting something heavy off the ground, chances are pretty good that it will be CLOSER than eight inches from the ground.
Thus, limiting your pulls to rack pulls will not as efficiently prepare you for a real life situation.
The Tire Flip
This same trainer said that the tire flip is good only for people who are training for a competition that involves tire flips.
Baloney. The tire flip has a carryover to real-life lifting, just as the deadlift does.
Furthermore, it hits the glutes and hamstrings in a way that leg curls, deadlifts and squats don’t.
The trainer said that most people don’t use proper form, putting their low back in a less-than-ideal position.
This isn’t true. I have poor levers for squatting, yet my tire flipping form is perfect. You just have to get down, keeping an arch in the lower back and “lift with the legs.”
The Leg Press
• The core doesn’t get to work, like it does in the squat.
• Excess lumbar flexion is involved.
First off, you need not work the core to seriously hammer your legs. Second, excess lumbar flexion (the spine curling up as your knees come towards your armpits) is not necessary for leg pressing.
The rule is to keep your butt from lifting off the pad. If this is impossible in order to go deep with the sled, then use a horizontal apparatus. You can get a very deep range of motion without all that spinal curling.
The Leg Extension
However, this is one of the best exercises for strengthening the intricate structures of the knee joint.
The risk of injuring the knee joint is lower than it is with the squat, but this doesn’t mean that the leg extension replaces squatting.
Many people do leg extensions incorrectly:
• The bar is too far down on their legs, below their ankles, which puts stress on the knees.
• Their feet are flimsy as they lift the bar, when instead their feet should maintain a rigid 90 degree angle to the legs throughout the entire movement.
• The negative (release) lacks control.
Now wait…I don’t mean a bodyweight-only plank.
I mean a plank with a 45 pound weight plate on your middle/upper back (which you’ll need to build up to). Thirty seconds of this will do more for your abs than 200 bench crunches.
You really don’t need to plank for more than 30 seconds, but the goal is to apply progressive resistance: increasing the weight load on your back.
Even though you’re not crunching, folding or swiveling, your entire core will get slammed due to the isometric contraction of all its muscles to prevent your body from buckling under that weight plate.
The deadlift, tire flip, leg press, leg extension and weighted plank have been branded by some trainers as over-rated, but as a former personal trainer and lifelong fitness enthusiast, I say that we should remove these strength training moves from that list.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained clients of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.