Exercises that might be holding back your progress

Exercises that might be holding back your progress

When it comes to fitness, training and workouts we want to be doing the most we can to reach our goals and get results. Combining strength and cardio is a big trend but beware certain exercises might just be doing you more of a hindrance than a helping hand. 

First up are burpees – these are often touted as a full body exercise that builds strength and works your cardiovascular system and they certainly are. But be aware they are also an exercise which are one of the most common culprits for poor form. Burpees engage multiple muscle groups and whilst that can be a big tick for improving fitness the problem lies in the way they are performed. Poor form on a burpee can make it ineffective and even cause injury. So my advice is to really work on your technique when it comes to this exercise. If that means avoiding the jump element until your core, legs and glutes are stronger and taking the low impact option until you’re confident that your technique is 100% then this will benefit your fitness far greater than powering through 15 with questionable form. This can be particularly pertinent when heading into a second or third set as the muscles fatigue and your form can suffer.

Next up is HIIT training – high intensity interval training. This certainly has a place in a weekly workout schedule but you might not want to be doing this for every session. There has been a huge boom in HIIT classes and whilst they can be a really effective way to increase your heart, challenge your cardiovascular system and save time, it is important to note that they might not help your strength work. I include one of these sessions per week on my platform which I love for their energizing nature and cardio tick but I personally find one or two hiit sessions a week plenty. The high intensity nature, if used in all your workouts, can inhibit strength gains and the development of lean muscle. It is recommended to focus on 3 pure strength sessions each week e.g. one full body, one upper body and one lower body to maximise strength through focussed, form-orientated workouts with the correct weight to challenge your muscles and then you can add in one or two HIIT sessions to tap into that cardio-strength combo. This way you will give your muscles the stimulus they need to successfully develop strength and build lean muscle. It is important to also note that HIIT workouts might not be suitable for beginners so it’s key to build up to them or opt for lower impact options at the start.

Tricep dips – these can fall into the same category as burpees. They can be brilliant but form is crucial. Many individuals fall into the trap of allowing their shoulders to roll forwards during the dip which reduces the effectiveness of this exercise and can increase injury risk. It is a tricky exercise as it uses bodyweight to build tricep strength so, if you’re struggling with these or concerned about form, my suggestion would be to work on isolated tricep exercises e.g. tricep extensions, skull crushers or tricep kick backs with a dumbbell to build tricep strength first or slow the dips right down – it also helps to have a mirror nearby so you can watch your form to ensure correct technique.

Side bends/weighted side bends target the oblique muscles. A great exercise for the obliques but care needs to be taken. Obliques are primarily used functionally to resist or cause rotation of the trunk. Side bends focus on a lateral bend which is a key functional move – it is so important to train our muscles functionally so be sure to include exercises like a wood chop or Pallof press to train the obliques in the way they are used most in everyday life. Again these need to be done correctly without leaning forwards or overarching the back and should be done with just one weight or can be done with just bodyweight to start. It is really important to be strong through the core before you bend and without a sudden, jerky movement.

So what is the key takeaway here? To focus on our form always and ensure the exercises we are doing are targetting the correct muscle groups.

What is the best way to build strength and overall fitness? Building strength and fitness efficiently requires a balanced workout regimen. Here are the four core pillars I recommend including in yours:

  • Strength training: Dedicate separate sessions for strength training that focus on compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, bench/chest presses, and overhead presses. Lift weights that challenge you and incorporate progressive overload to continually challenge your muscles. If you’re new to strength training, I’d recommend starting gently and building gradually and learning proper form to prevent injuries. Once you are familiar with these movements, you can start with lighter weights and gradually increase the resistance as your strength improves.
  • Cardiovascular/zone 2 exercise: I’d also recommend including dedicated cardio sessions in your routine. Opt for activities you enjoy, such as walking, hiking, running, cycling, or swimming, to boost your cardiovascular health and endurance.
  • Functional training: Integrate functional movements like planks, push ups, and squats, lunges which improve overall fitness, core strength, and balance, into your schedule.
  • Flexibility and mobility work: Finally, don’t neglect stretching and mobility exercises! These will help you prevent injuries and maintain flexibility.

As always, any questions, please get in touch.

Training in the heat 
Training in the heat 
3 tips to build and maintain muscle as you age
3 tips to build and maintain muscle as you age
The science of building stronger bones
The science of building stronger bones

Copyright © Caroline’s Circuits | VAT Registered Company GB428614978

Site made by Gossh expert 2xN