1. Low bar Squats/Cheated Good Mornings
Powerlifting was the sport that breathed air into low bar squats. The goal was to lift more weight by shortening the range of motion and increasing the involvement of the posterior chain – the collection of muscles that modern gurus and Instagram whores show deep appreciation for.
The trade-off comes at a high expense – low bar squats put more stress on the hips, wrists, elbows and shoulders while reducing the emphasis on the quadriceps.
If Mark Rippetoe, who is unsurprisingly a former powerlifter, and his crew of muscle scholars didn’t promote this version of the squat, nobody except actual powerlifters would be aware of its existence.
If you think that the kids who are now worshiping this variation would have figured it out by themselves, you would be incorrect. Nobody, certainly not a beginner, would put a bar that low on their backs because it’s uncomfortable, slippery and the exercise resembles humping rather than squatting.
Millennials bought the hype because they were searching for something special, an online mystery, that could lead to insane natural growth.
Many say that this squat variation works the hamstrings more than the classic high bar squat. That’s debatable, but even if it is true, squatting for hamstrings is the equivalent of benching for biceps. In both cases, the arm and respectively the leg flexors work – but not nearly as much as they do during pulling exercises. A deadlift is a better hamstring exercise than any squat could be.
The reason why this movement is tragically unnecessary for naturals (unless they are powerlifters) is the discomfort that it comes with and its needless focus on the posterior chain.
If people were honest with themselves, they will admit that the low bar squat is their preferred choice because it allows the lifter to move more weight and satisfies an elitist mindset based on Internet sentience.
What to do instead?
The high bar squat is a simpler squat variation that provides a longer range of motion and more quadriceps stimulation. One’s obsession with glutes will also be satisfied. You will never see a person who’s been high bar squatting for a fairly long time with no glute development.
2. Vince Gironda Antics
Vince Gironda had some great ideas and rightfully criticized bodybuilders for their obsession with carbs, but he also came up with many exercises that are pointless and even dangerous for the average bro.
Movements like sissy squats, the guillotine press and Gironda’s dip variations expose the problematic pattern perfectly – Gironda would take a classic exercise and rearrange it to put more stress on the so-called aesthetic muscles or a portion of them (e.g., quads, upper chest…etc.). But those modifications would always create extra stress on the supporting joints.
Similar tactics are useless for most people. You are better off focusing on classic basic movements like regular squats, dips and incline presses for your upper chest than looking for some mythical movements designed to transform you into a Gironda pupil.
Years ago, I was really interested in Gironda’s tricks and wanted to read his book, Unleashing the Wild Physique.
Guess, what? As you can see in the video below, It’s filled with images of professional bodybuilders on steroids.
Stop looking for magical exercises that will turn your puny natty physique into something that Gironda would have put in his book. You are wasting your time.
3. Adding Bands and Chains to Basic Lifts
Many naive noobs who have graduated from the University of YouTube think that they are hardcore for following advanced training methods such as Westside.
In reality, most complications are ineffectual. The most popular powerlifters on earth, who weren’t natural by the way, never bothered to add bands and chains to their squats, benches and deadlifts. Today, there are delusional kids who plan to break world records by incorporating similar nonsense into their lifting.
4. Olympic lifts
There are three reasons to do Olympic lifts and their variations:
1. You like them.
2. You are a weightlifter.
3. You practice a sport that benefits from those exercises.
The Olympic lifts are very technical and require constant practice. They don’t build as much muscle as slow lifts like squats, deadlifts, barbell rows, shrugs…etc. Therefore, if your goal is muscle construction, and you are not attracted to those movements – you are better off ignoring them regardless of what the experts claim.
Rippetoe used to say that if you cannot do at least the power variations, you are not a real lifter.
Honestly, who cares?
Power cleans were a part of my routine for 2 years. Dropping them didn’t make me feel like a fake lifter.
5. Any exercise that doesn’t match your goals.
Exercises performed in a hopeless attempt to satisfy someone’s ego rather than the end result you are after are to be avoided. Yet many noobs ignore their own wishes to seek external validation. I was the same way. I wanted the experts to consider me alpha – a goal deprived of logic and value.
If a movement is not producing the desired results, don’t be afraid to ditch it.
For example, if the flat bench press is leaving your upper chest naked, focus on inclines without remorse, provided that pec development is your mission.
If pull-ups are not building up your biceps, do curls shamelessly.
As they say – nobody judges the winners.
6. Exercises that promise the impossible.
You will be surprised how many experienced lifters, some even on steroids, believe in myths that die under the pressure of logic.
For example, many naïve souls do tons of Scott curls in the hope that the movement will fill the gap between their biceps and elbow joints. You can’t build muscle where there isn’t any. That void is due to a combination of short muscle bellies and long tendons.
Lifting can only amplify – it cannot restructure. Many forget that principle and attribute miracle properties to the fight against gravity. Stop dreaming, brothers.
7. Complicated bodyweight movements
Bodyweight training is fun because it offers progression based on skill and joint strength rather than muscle construction. In other words, the limitations that a natty faces are of smaller importance.
But many gymnastic gurus love to manipulate their pupils by convincing them that gymnasts, acrobats, street fitness icons and other bodyweight maniacs owe their muscular development to complicated movements such as front levers, planches and iron crosses. This isn’t really true – most of the mass, if not all of it, comes from the basic exercises that prepare you for the advanced stuff. If your goal is hypertrophy, focus on simple drills.
Another frequently ignored part of the puzzle is that many gymnasts have shorter limbs – some of the movements are practically impossible to perform if you have long arms.
Many years ago, when I pointed out that female CrossFit competitors like Miranda Oldroyd look more like men rather than women, some fans explained the exceptional growth with the magic of CrossFit. I quickly concluded that those people are extremely stupid.
What is CrossFit, really? It’s a bit of everything and a whole lot of nothing at the same time.
It certainly isn’t capable of triggering steroids-like growth – no training method is.