Let's talk about dangerous exercises and whether they do even exist. What makes an exercise dangerous?
Some exercises you have seen on our videos may look dangerous and there have been concerns whether these exercises are safe to do or not.
Sissy squat is notorious for growing the quads but it's also known for giving some people knee pain. In reality this exercise is both safe and unsafe to do.
It's not the exercise, it's you.
Sissy squat is a 100% natural movement pattern that has been used for decades by bodybuilders, dancers and athletes - it's a knee extension with your bodyweight.
The problem with sissy squat is that it's not for beginners because in order to do it safely, all heads of your quads (4 heads) need to be strong and structurally balanced.
It all depends on your current level of fitness and whether you have muscular imbalances in the body. If you attempt to do an exercise too soon without proper preparation, you can expect to get problems.
You wouldn't back squat 200 kg ( 440 lbs) straight off the bat or attempt to do a full planche, advanced gymnastic skills or back flips without properly preparing your body for the task.
Many gymnasts and athletes can do insane stunts with their bodies which could severely hurt the average gym-goer. They can do it all because there has been a long process where they have built up their bodies to a point where they can perform at a high level without the risk of injury.
Sissy squat is hard, but it's still relatively easy and safe compared to many other skills people try to obtain (like front lever). Sissy squat is not dangerous as long as you don't do it too much, too soon and too often.
Sissy squat can be dangerous but the same can be said for every other exercise out there.
Majority of people can bench press without problems but some experience shoulder pain when they do it. Some feel pain in different areas when they do deadlifts, shoulder press or even basic dips. Are all of these exercises dangerous and thus to be avoided at all costs?
If you feel pain with an exercise, it's almost always due to these two things:
- There are imbalances, tightness or other pre-existing structural problems you need to address.
- Your execution of the exercise is not good (too much weight, bad form or too-soon/much/often syndrome.)
Especially if you have been training for a long time, it can be difficult to accept the fact that your quads may not be as strong as you think they are (ego). It's easier to label knee extensions dangerous than to start fixing the muscular weakness that is causing the pain.
Labeling exercises dangerous is not good advice because it doesn't take into account the individual's level of fitness, background, body structure and structural balance of the body.
In a long run, avoidance creates more problems than it prevents. Many think training your spine is a horrible thing to do and that you should always keep the back straight and neutral.
Avoidance of training the back and keeping the spine always in one place will in a long run make the spine stiff and rigid. It's the stiff tree that breaks, not the willow tree as the kung fu masters have said for centuries.
You want to train all parts of the body to make yourself less prone to injuries and allow you to keep progressing without lack of mobility limiting your success.
You shouldn't attempt to use weights or exercise progressions you aren't ready for. Many exercises need a certain level of strength and mobility before you can attempt to do them safely.
In the case of pain - stop doing the exercise and don't try it until you have addressed the problem that causes the pain. The exercise itself is not the problem, but not having enough strength, mobility or structural balance is the real problem.
Also, the grind mentality where you push and push like a madman is not good for your long term results. You need sufficient rest and no exercise should be done all the time. No exercise is so good that it needs to be part of every workout or exercise routine.
This is why variety is important and why versatile training will make you strong and less prone to injuries. It's very rare to get injured in the spot - most injuries are chronic and often happen overtime due to the repetitive nature of your workouts.
You will stay safe by working on mobility, fixing weaknesses and using common sense whether you are ready to attempt an exercise or not.
No exercise is dangerous by default (they are all natural patterns and have a specific purpose) and what makes an exercise dangerous is how the exercise is done and whether the person is properly prepared to do it.
Train hard, stay safe.