Exercise: am I doing it wrong?
May 12, 2010 3:48 PM   Subscribe

Help me fix my rudimentary exercise program. Also, help me not hurt my neck.

So I've been doing some simple work outs lately to get a little more in shape. I've actually seen some results already. Nice.

The thing is, when I do any exercise I feel like I'm doing too much of the exercise with my neck muscles. Am I doing these exercises wrong? Am I doing them wrong enough to injure myself? Or, is this just something I'm being overly alarmed about?

Mostly I've just been doing push-ups, leg drops, bench presses, and renegade rows to tone my core. Don't really know if this is the best group of things to be doing so I'm open to suggestions. I know I should probably work some cardio in to get actual healthier instead of just pretend healthier, but, say, running or something just seems to have way more of a time commitment than what I'm currently doing. Any advice?

Since I'm already a skinny guy my goal is just to feel more healthy and physically capable. I suppose a little toning and muscle building might be nice too.
posted by cirrostratus to Health & Fitness (7 answers total)
Can you be specific about what, exactly, hurts your neck? Is the pain sharp, or achy, or just a feeling of pressure? Is it constant during, or does it come on after, like soreness? Do all the exercises you're doing hurt it?
posted by decathecting at 4:21 PM on May 12, 2010

I think you need to tell us what about your neck is bothering you.

I hate when I do it (because I make funny faces) but I frequently tense my neck all up (especially) when doing shoulder shrugs and seated cable rows. But it never hurts or feels sore afterwards.

Actually, I screwed my neck up for an entire week by sleeping on it wrong, but I was still able to do all my exercises without pain. Had to be more careful about turning my head, but that can actually be a benefit for some core exercises.
posted by sbutler at 4:54 PM on May 12, 2010

I won't comment on the neck problem specifically, but your routine isn't particularly balanced, and that could be contributing (or in the least isn't a good idea in the long term). For example you're hitting your Chest/Triceps twice (Bench press and push-ups work a lot of the same muscles), but neglecting the opposing muscles (in this case, back muscles and biceps). This particular mistake is notorious for causing injury in the shoulders in the long term. You can work out your back and biceps with exercises such as chin-ups or bent-over rows.

So, aside from the neck issue, I'd advise you look into a more balanced program, so that you don't cause long term injury/posture problems by only working certain sets of muscles and not the ones that oppose them.

The exercises you're doing are pretty good ones, just add in more variety. Check out some pre-defined programs, such as maybe the Stronglifts 5x5, or a program designed by someone experienced, and either follow the program, or use it to get an idea of other exercises you can add in for variety.
posted by Diplodocus at 6:57 PM on May 12, 2010

P.S. I don't think any of the exercises you list involve the neck in any significant way. Maybe have someone with some experience watch you for a little bit, and see if you're straining your neck in a funny way while doing other movements.
posted by Diplodocus at 7:00 PM on May 12, 2010

I seem to have that same neck problem - it just tenses up when i exert effort. No matter what exercise I do - fast walking, jogging, lifting any type of weights. For me, I think it's related to clenching my jaw and/or moving my head forward. That whole concept of mentally preparing to exert a strong effort and move forward manifests itself in my neck and jaw.

My vote is to get a few sessions with a trainer and have them evaluate your form. If you do figure it out, post back and let us know what works (I'm too cheap for a trainer, and it doesn't bother me that much).
posted by CathyG at 8:15 AM on May 13, 2010

I guess the neck problem is this: basically I tense the hell out of it during every exercise, even ones that seemingly don't involve muscles anywhere near it. Not painful, but it makes me feel like I'm doing something wrong that will eventually become painful.

Diplodocus: Your advice is what I needed to hear. I knew my exercises were missing some important body parts, but I hadn't thought of the opposing muscles thing. Chin ups would be awesome, but I don't have access to a bar. I'll have to google what the hell bent-over rows are.
posted by cirrostratus at 8:16 AM on May 13, 2010

Step 1. Buy this book:'http://www.amazon.com/Strength-Training-Anatomy-Sports/dp/0736092269/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1273820247&sr=8-3

Step 2. Get access to a gym (with free weights and cable machines).

Step 3. Focus on proper technique.
posted by Risiko at 11:58 PM on May 13, 2010

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