5 Exercise Blacklist

She’s going to have a very sore back today. She might not even be able to get out of bed. Silly crossfitter.

There she was…in the good ol’ Stratford YMCA on Sunday morning. I was supersetting my Close-Grip Bench Presses and Chin-ups when she walked in.

About 43 years old, she was fit, and serious. She wasn’t there to chit-chat or waste time with slow cardio. She must have downloaded the workout of the day. But, she was about to make a BIG mistake.

She set up a box against the wall and proceeded to do high-rep box jumps. Instead of correctly stepping off the box after each rep, she jumped back and landed on both feet, putting her at risk of rupturing her Achilles tendon.

As I told my Master Certified Turbulence Trainers at our weekend seminar, this is a NO-NO exercise. It’s not safe. It’s not worth the risk.
Yes, jumps are good. But the “jump back” puts you at high risk of injury when you land with the Achilles stretched and under load. There’s no need for this, particularly for a weekend warrior.

Fortunately, she survived that exercise. But it was the next one that would mark the beginning of the end. In the corner she had carved out in the busy gym, she grabbed two dumbbells and began dumbbell swings.

Now don’t get me wrong, I use kettlebell swings all the time (and dumbbells too, if the gym I’m using doesn’t have heavy KB’s).


I use good form. In fact, this weekend my form got even better, thanks to the masterful technique taught by Chris Lopez, an RKC and SFG Kettlebell instructor – and now a Master Certified Turbulence Trainer.

Back to our hard-working, well-meaning fit-over-40 female. She had terrible form. Her back rounded into a “C” position with each furious repetition. She did multiple sets of high reps. And yes, she was working hard, BUT…

Her back was being destroyed from the inside out.

Beside her was another exercise gone wrong. A young man, he more of a TRX-workout devotee, was doing sit-ups supersetted with TRX squat jumps. His jumps were fine and athletic, his landing soft. No complaints there. But no need for the situps, not when he had a great core training tool like the TRX. There are so many safe moves he could have done.

In yet another corner of the gym a well-meaning training put his overweight client through a decent workout of squats, stability ball jackknives, split squats, and modified pushups. I was surprised to see things progressing so well. But then the trainer made a mistake.

He added Russian Twists with a medicine ball, combining flexion and rotation around the spine. This poor gal might be waking up with a bad back today, too. That’s our fourth NO-NO exercise to put on your Blacklist.

Finally, the 43-year old fitness fanatic moved on to the “straw that would break the camel’s back”, or in this case, “the exercise that would break the crossfitter’s back”.

She grabbed the neutral-grip chin-up bars and began a series of explosive knee raises, violently swinging her body, focusing on quantity, not quality of reps (a NO-NO mindset when it comes to exercise).

Suddenly she stopped short, not like Frank Costanza in Seinfeld, but because she had hurt her back due to the violent hip flexion and back-rounding motion. She dropped to the floor and walked gingerly, rubbing her low back.

Her workout was over. Perhaps her entire week of training – ruined by poor technique and poor exercise selection. It’s a classic scene I see played out almost every day in the gyms I visit across North America.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.


A lot of hard exercises done with poor form is still a bad workout.


A lot of bad exercises done with “good” form still make for a bad workout.

Don’t make the same mistakes.

Train hard but safe but hard, as I tell readers on our Turbulence Training Facebook page. <= Join us here

This weekend I gave my Master Certified Turbulence Trainers the #1 Rule of Lifting Safely, and I need to leave it with you, too.

Never, ever, EVER do an exercise with a rounded back.

This goes for deadlifts, db rows, swings, and even when picking up dumbbells off the ground for your next set of chest presses (that’s where a lot of folks mess up – they use great form in their exercises, but POOR form when moving dumbbells around – be careful please!).
While over 80% of us will experience back pain in our lives, workout-related back injuries are preventable. A good trainer and fat loss workout program will never, ever put a client’s back at risk just for the sake of making a workout harder.

There’s NO reason to do that.

You can still burn fat, get a lean, sexy body, and even build six-pack abs by training safe and conservative – and hard and fun.

Tomorrow, I’ll give you the exact programs to make this happen. I’ll even give you a couple of workouts to use if you need to build up your abs and core strength from beginner or intermediate levels.

You can achieve your goals of fat loss and a sexy body without hurting your back. Avoid these BlackListed exercises, and stay tuned for the solutions tomorrow.

Train hard but safe but hard,
Craig Ballantyne, CTT
Certified Turbulence Trainer

PS – I love women that train hard…

…but I’m saddened by some of the workouts people do.

Make every exercise, set, and rep purposeful. Don’t do anything you don’t need to do, and don’t do anything that isn’t safe.

You can still have fun and do short, hard workouts that give you results without EVER putting your back at risk.

Tomorrow I’ll show you how.

Stay strong, get stronger!

All the planning in the world is no good if you don’t follow through (safely). Be a robotic action-taker. You only earn rewards for what you finish.

Have a great week.

PPS – Today’s Kickbutt Mindset Tip:

Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you…fitter than you…kinder than you…and that make you play up a level in life.