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The Fit 5: Dangerous Exercises and Proper Form

Our fitness expert answers your questions about avoiding potentially harmful exercises and practicing proper form.

For all of our fans who shoot us questions on our Facebook page, this one is for you. Each week, we will tap into our pool of editors and experts to help with any questions or challenges you are having with your fitness regimen. This week, Sean Hyson C.S.C.S., Group Training Director for Muscle & Fitness and Men's Fitness magazines, answers questions about the basics to better nutrition. Be sure to read up on all of Sean’s articles here on MensFitness.com or in Men’s Fitness and Muscle & Fitness magazines each month. You can also catch Sean on Twitter.

1) Leg Extension— asked by Kristi Skorusa
When using the leg extension machine, is it bad form to go "all the way up" during the exercise? I've heard from some people it is, but it has never hurt me that I know of. I used to have arthritis in my knees, which faded mostly away largely from the use of this machine regularly. What's the right answer?

“Sounds like you answered it yourself. The knee is in its least stable position when bent degrees, and that’s the bottom of a leg extension. Some physical therapists and trainers believe that this can contribute to knee pain over time as there are shearing forces acting on the knee in this position, but if you’ve found the leg extension helpful, stick with it.”

2) Sqaut Stance — asked by Vishal Mehta 
Can you describe the proper motion of the squat?

"Sit back with your hips as if you were going to lower yourself into a chair. Spread your knees apart as you descend and push outward with your feet (although they won’t actually move). Your hips must bend first, not your knees, so your weight is moving backward and not straight down. This allows your strongest muscles, your glutes and hamstrings, to take on most of the load."

3) Deadlift Execution — asked by Thomas Robbins 
What are the most common mistakes made during the deadlift? What should I keep in mind when performing them?

"Letting the lower back round is a classic mistake. You have to keep it arched or flat at all times, and this requires mobility and core strength. Right before you begin pulling, drop your butt so your weight shifts to your heels and you extend your hips while your weight is leaning backward. Another mistake is letting the bar drift in front of your body. This decreases your mechanical advantage and can hurt your back as well. Keep the bar pulled tight against your legs the whole time."

4) Risky Moves — asked by EJ Wright
What’s the most dangerous exercise and why?
"Any exercise done improperly can be dangerous, but there’s no one exercise that everyone is bound to get hurt by doing. However, I’d say that bench pressing with elbows flared and a flat back will eventually cause shoulder pain for almost everybody. Learn to tuck your elbows and keep your back arched."
5) Bench Press Properly — asked by Ron Patrias 
I see people arch their back during a bench press, I also see some people go wide grip and others go narrow. What’s the deal with this? Are they wrong? What’s the correct way to bench?

"It depends on how you’re built and what your preference is. A wide grip reduces the range of motion and lets you add more weight, but it could hurt your wrists and, if you have long arms, it may make the lift harder. A narrow grip increases the range but involves your triceps more. Experiment with different setups and find a good coach who can help you determine what style is best for you."

 

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