7 Most OVERRATED Exercises

Some of these will probably get me excommunicated from the CrossFit community but here it goes…


1. Overhead KBS

I don’t actually have an issue with this movement at face value. The problem arises when people suffering from some sort of shoulder dysfunction/over-extension issue are coached to get the kettlebell overhead and push their head through because that is what the CrossFit “standard” is. You can generally see this is happening when the bell is pitched forward instead of vertical or when the athlete flys their rib cage. This indicates that the athlete is pulling the bell overhead with their shoulders and upper back instead of driving the bell up with a sharp contraction of their hips and glutes.


The general purpose of a kettlebell swing is to work the posterior. Russian swings (when performed correctly) do this just fine for the average person. Once an athlete can perform a swing (not overhead) and is cleared of any shoulder dysfunction, going overhead can be beneficial because it allows the athlete to move through a greater range of motion.


Fantastic Article By CJ Martin on the Topic


2. Abmat Sit Ups

How many of you can smash Abmat Sit Ups but cannot do 1 strict toes-to-bar? How many of you get giant burns on your butt every time you do abmat sit ups? Most people when performing this movement don’t actually use their abs to bring themselves to the upright position. Most of us swing the crap out of our arms and pop our hips up and down to pop ourselves to the finish position. This movement is inferior for building core strength because the athlete is able to deactivate their core and whip themselves through the range of motion through these means. I much prefer Hollow Rocks/K2E/T2B/V-Ups to the Abmat.



3. Sumo-Deadlift High Pull









Like the KBS, it is not the movement at face value that I don’t like. What I don’t like is unnecessary risk of injury. At the top of the movement, the athlete’s arm is actually in a similar position used to test shoulder impingement. But instead of a professional adding pressure the athlete is to perform high reps with a weight hanging from it! As the athlete gets tired and their form deteriorates the likelihood of injury due to bad form increases to a much greater extent then when doing other posterior movements such as Heavy Russian KBS.

Great Post From the People at Whole 9 on the Topic!


4. Bounding Box Jumps

This one has already begun to reveal it’s ugly head in the CrossFit community. Achilles tendon tears and injuries have showed the negative effects of a movement without a deload phase. With normal box jumps the athlete has a moment of rest at the top and at the bottom. With bounding box jumps the athlete never has a deloaded moment and the Achilles takes an absolute beating! This was seen during the 2011 Deadllift/Push Ups/Box Jump workout in which many athletes (a few top athletes) tore their Achilles tendon because of volume and lack of deload. (this is probably a result of 10,000 reps not 1 workout)

I also witnessed an Achilles tear from another high rep box jump workout at the Rumble by the River in 2011. The workout was a 30min AMRAP of DL/Push Ups/Box Jumps and my buddy tore his Achilles with 2 minutes left.

Moral of the Story? Unless someone is looking to compete their really isn’t a reason to have your athletes doing anything other than box jumps with step downs during their workouts. (Mark Twight has been preaching this for awhile)Why risk it?

A personal story of Achilles Rupture



5. Hand Release Push Ups

Have you ever actually watched people do these? I like them in theory and even program them from time to time but most times the actual execution is horrendous. People overextend, deactivate, and butt-whip themselves into the air for the rep. Even when seen in competition, these push ups remind me of that “drunk” guy trying to get off the ground.

Why not just teach people to do good push ups?

Full extension/chest to deck/ elbows tight/tight core?




6. Kipping Pull Ups

via CrossFit Kinetics

“…Now, imagine someone severely lacking in shoulder/thoracic mobility (aka Average Guy) trying to get into that position.  Someone who struggles to lockout an overhead press or hold a handstand.  As the body starts to swing through, the shoulder girdle hits it’s flexibility limit and his forward momentum stops as violently as if he had crashed into a wall…” -CrossFit Southwest

Image via CrossFit Kinetics

Out of all the movements listed this one will probably get me the most flack. Lets start this with some enlightenment…. If you’re able to swing spasticly on a bar and flop yourself high enough that your chin breaks the horizontal plane of the bar…. IT STILL DOESN’T COUNT AS A PULL UP!

Kipping is a skill. And as a skill there needs to be a foundation in which it is built off of. That foundation is a stable and strong shoulder complex. A good indications of a strong stable shoulder complex is being able to do multiple strict pull ups or dare I suggest weighted pull ups.

As Coaches, we get crazy pumped to teach sexy movements like kipping toes to bar and kipping pull ups. But we need to take a step back and realize that 10,000 kipping pull ups on an already weak (or inflexible) shoulder joint might not be the best long term fitness plan.

Kipping is super beneficial to increase power output but kipping pull ups SHOULD NEVER be the stepping stone to strict pull ups and/or weighted pull ups. Do the right thing and require strict pull ups (or weighted if you want seriously strong and healthy athletes) before you allow your athletes or yourself to start repping out kipping pull ups.

Article on Pull Ups/Kipping Pull Ups/Butterfly Pull Ups


7. Kipping Muscle Ups

Like the kipping pull up I actually like this movement. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t overrated. Like a lot of CrossFitters, I did my first muscle up by swinging like tarzan and popping my hips so hard that I managed to somehow launch myself straight to the top!

If your muscle up procedure sounds like this, STOP!!!!

It is imperative to learn the basics of the muscle up BEFORE you even begin to worry about kipping.

Require your athletes, and yourself, to be able to do strict muscle ups on command before teaching them to kip and before allowing them to input them in workouts.

*Is this good for his shoulder?

False Grip Progression part 1, part 2 part 3




As always your feedback and thoughts are greatly appreciated! If you disagree with one of the movements above please voice your opinions so that we may better the fitness community through discussion!


Coming soon….The 7 Most Underrated Exercises!!


  1. Gregory Gianakis says:

    Wow. Just wow. Thank you for posting this and making me understand that I’m not crazy….

    • Thank you for this article. I could not agree more. I have been struggling with shoulder and arm issues for months, that started a long time ago with the kipping pullup. It became really bad three months ago when a trainer insisted I attempt more kipping pullups after I had stayed away from them for a long time. Pain was the result and I have been pretty immobile with my upper body as a result. I only recently learned that the problem was I was doing the exercise without engaging my shoulders back down into their socket. Would have been a nice tip before being asked to do such a movement. I agree with all your points above, and yes, the ab mat is stupid. Thanks again for the sane information!

  2. Your points are valid and those I won’t argue,but my argument is instead of telling us why they are so bad, why not talk about the better positions for the movements to avoid the injuries. The mobility that should be implemented before and after the wod to avoid such injuries, and how to teach proper positioning. The problem with most crossfitprogramming is there isnt enough emphasis on mobility,positioning, and skillpractice as part of the days agenda, when in fact itshould be the foundation of any good program. The first thing we teach to our beginners before going over a pull-up is teaching an engaged shoulder, once they can maintain holding that position, then we teach them to kip. Same on teaching a mu. Before an athlete can attempt one, they must perform all the progression we teach. And abmat sit-ups, I don’t disagree that it’s not going to make toes to bar better, but you havetoengage your shoulders to do those, but we no rep the crap out of our athletes who lift their butt off the ground to swing themselves up. Your right that is not a sit-up. But it’s a problem in coaching the movement,enforcing it, then not getting tired of saying it over and over again. And hand break push-ups… If their thighs touch the ground… No rep. Ask any athlete at my gym they have heard all this time and time again. As I’m sure yours have, but there isn’t a need to preach the faults of the movements, but preaching how to make your athletes better. That no matter what you don’t sacrifice form, for time,and if you do, it’s simple, I’ll move your name off the rx category, then I guarantee they will listen next time.

  3. First off, ab mat situps should not be compared to T2B or any other exercise for that matter. How about you set a standard for your athletes and have them follow it. Have them keep their hands in front of them and touch the ground with their shoulder blades. If you have them sit with their feet in the buttterfly position you can have them touch their feet at the top of the movement encouraging them not to round their back. Sumo deadlift high pull is one of the 9 foundational movements and should be learned by even the most beginner of athletes. Kipping pullups, box jumps, and kipping muscle ups allow you to do more work in less time while still going through a full range of motion. Teach people to do these correctly so they can become effecient in their workouts. You can find something that could potentially go wrong in almost every movement we do in CrossFit- instead just teach people to do them correctly. If they are unable to then have them scale back. I feel bad for your athletes when a workout like “Angie” comes up and they have 100 strict pullups to complete. Lastly, you gotta be kidding me with hand release pushups- this is a basic movement that is challenging yet very beneficial. Again, teach proper movement, find out what the athlete is capable of, them set a standard for them and make sure they stick to it. Its really quite simple actually. Keep at it and you’ll figure out how to teach people these skills. There is plenty of material on the web to help you learn.

    • Exactly what I was talking about when I mean crossfit needs to be much better regulated. Yes obviously some of these things are more efficient but are we going for quantity over quality here? Crossfit is “supposed” to prepare you for real world scenarios…so tell me how you would do a kipping pull up or muscle up against a wall you were attempting to climb over? Sure it works in competition as well but is every day a competition? I’ll stick with strict pull ups over kipping any day and get some real benefits from my work outs.

  4. Great article. I agree on almost all points. I’d say though that using your legs to assist yourself in a muscle-up is quite a useful step. It gives the athlete the feeling of turning over the rings into the dip. Requiring a strict muscle-up first would be great, but not as imperative as the strict pull-up to kipping pull-up progression, in my experience.

    Now, of course that athlete needs to have the strength to be able to perform multiple strict pull-ups and dips before they try a kipping muscle-up, but that goes without saying. (right?)

    But I’ll say if you learned how to use your legs/kip into your first muscle-up, and then you never bothered to advance to a strict muscle-up, then you are doing a great disservice to your training. Get your shoulders stronger!

    Oh, and you forgot #8 – kipping handstand pushups. Terrible.

  5. Amen brother. I’ve argued the same over and over in our box on pretty much all counts.

    I am not a Crossfit affiliate, nor am I a Crossfitter. In fact, I’ve been labeled a “hater” and whatnot by a handful of enthusiastic CF peeps because I have questioned the above exercises. I have been a fitness professional for over 17 years and am pursuing a career in Physical Therapy, and from a biomechanical standpoint, none of the exercises you called out make sense to me. The risk isn’t worth the reward, and more people need to be made aware of this! Again, thank you for speaking out!
    Yours in Health,

  7. I must say it is refreshing to read some of this. As a CSCS, RKC, and CPPS, I hate what I like to call the “Crossfit Cult”. Crossfit is an excellent tool depending on the person and the frequency. I never advocate crossfit as an everyday activity. It is nice to see someone with some intelligence as well as an educated opinion as well. I cannot tell you the amount of times I have had to shut some crossfit know-it-all up because he/she thinks that because they spent $1000 and a weekend away getting certified, that they are qualified to be a coach of someone else’s health and fitness. I believe the crossfit standard needs to be much better regulated. It takes clients, athletes, trainers, and coaches YEARS to master these exercises that are prescribed. It should be embarrassing when you find a crossfit level 1 coach who can do all the kipping pull ups in the world but not even one dead hanging pull up. And as far as the kettlebell goes, as an RKC, there is absolutely no reason or benefit to taking a two handed swing over the head. The range of motion is irrelevant because the movement is a hip dominant movement and by the time the bell is overhead, your hips are already fully extended as well as your lumbar spine. The swing is not meant to affect T-spine mobility and honestly doesn’t really at all at the top of that movement. If it is going to go overhead, use the kettlebell snatch and really work your shoulder stabilizers in the up swing, and then the eccentric stretching of the bell in the de-load portion of the movement. Any intelligent trainer will never bring the bell over head.

  8. Take a look at our blog and what we do for pull-ups. http://crossfitlegitimus.com/blog.php?id=6917391999127510272

    Nice article.

    • CrossFit 77 says:

      I dig that you have provided your members with a set program.

      How have your results been with the program?

      We have had great success with the addition of weighted negativesOur program looks very similar. I really like the change of grip/angle, scap pull ups, etc. that your program entails.

      We have very positive results with the addition of shoulder health movements like Powell Raises and DB Ext Rotations (http://youtu.be/lh5IM0s5kuM) and weighted negatives.

      Thanks for the feedback

  9. I’d like to add high rep Olympic lifting, and I’ll bitch about it to anyone that will listen.

    The Oly lifts aren’t meant to be a speed move, in a reps against the clock sort of way. The technique is about putting hang time on the bar so you can pull yourself under. Athletes have to be fast because heavy weights aren’t going to hang as long. I see CrossFit classes butchering the movements to fit them into a scheme they were never meant for and my current post surgery shoulder aches for it.

    The Oly lifts are great for training explosive strength, agility, stability, and a host of other skills. But there are SO MANY OTHER moves in the lexicon to create metcons from, there is no reason to put such a high skill movement in large quantities and think “they’re hard, so it’s a good thing” to really be true. And I have yet to find a box that expects their members to seriously study the Oly lifts before allowing them to use the movements in a metcon situation. And my seriously study, I’m talking at least a few months of separate focused dedication, don’t as part of an on ramp.

  10. I believe that there is only one real answer here.. First, I LOVE the outside of the box thinking and exercises that the CF community has, BUUUUUUT, 95% of the people attempting these exercises are biomechanically challenged and should NOT be exercising this way. A complete BODY AWARENESS COURSE in which the athlete is required to master skilled movement patterns for EVERY joint action will prepare them for “regular” exercises. It is not until after one has mastered strict movements through all three phases of training (stability, strength, power), both unilaterally and bilaterally, are they ready for “creative”, competitive exercise schedules such as CF. Once you KNOW how to properly USE your body, your imagination is the limit to exercise (movement). Creating movement is what exercise is all about anyway. I teach such a course, and would love to integrate it into the CF community. Check me out on youtube/user/theebodyshop or my article entitled “Crossfit. Football. and the Drill” at http://www.theebodyshop.blogspot.com

  11. Some really fantastic blog posts on this web site , regards for contribution.

  12. I especially agree with your points on kipping. I think that kipping is a complete hack and something that will be discouraged entirely in about 10 years (once a large amount of research is put into the negative effects on it). Strict pull-ups are natural movements, kipping pull-ups are not and could very well send you to the chiropractor.

    If your aim is to accelerate your heart rate for long periods of time during your workout, then do cardio or some other plyo exercise that is actually SAFE.
    If your aim is to get stronger, then work on strict pullups, strict dips, and when you are strong enough, strict muscle-ups.
    If your aim is to do as many pullups as possible, then do as many as you can with strict form, when you exhaust your muscles, then use assistance bands or one of those pullup machines to take some weight off of you. After several weeks/months of performing strict pull-ups you’ll have much more strength and be able to do much more pull-ups at a time. The other muscles involved in kipping can be worked using other safe exercises as well.
    Or better yet, learn to rock climb. You’ll build an insane amount of muscle in your forearms and fingers, and after rock climbing for some time, you’ll be able to easily perform strict one-arm pullups.

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  14. CrossFit 77 says:


    Bang for your buck abmats are not an efficient means of building core strength. I have yet to see someone become a better athlete by doing abmat sit ups. Obviously this is anecdotal and in no way follows any scientific process but I would love to see a study done involving abmats sit ups on core strength/power/stability.

    Why SDHP? Why should it be learned by the most beginner of athletes? We should always ask questions ESPECIALLY when PT’s, Doctors, and Physios start pointing out potential risks associated with what we are teaching. It is our responsibility to constantly learn, adapt, and improve.

    As for Kipping Pull Ups and Kipping Muscle Ups – I entirely agree that they allow you to do more work in a given amount of time. I don’t have an issue with these movements. I have an issue with the use of the movements with athletes that have yet to master the fundamental movement or develop a solid foundations. That is like someone trying to run an ultra marathon without ever running a 5K!

    Even at CrossFit Level One Certifications they teach STRICT Muscle Ups (NOT KIPPING)

    Mechanics -> Consistency -> Intensity (kipping before strict is the other way)

    I never argued for the outright ban of kipping pull ups. They most definitely have their place.

    “…Kipping is super beneficial to increase power outpu…Do the right thing and require strict pull ups (or weighted if you want seriously strong and healthy athletes) before you allow your athletes or yourself to start repping out kipping pull ups.”

    Push Ups-
    “…this is a basic movement that is challenging yet very beneficial. Again, teach proper movement…”
    “Why not just teach people to do good push ups?
    Full extension/chest to deck/ elbows tight/tight core?”

    It looks like we agree on a lot of these points.
    Yes teach proper movement…. like Chest to Deck Push Ups. CrossFit implemented the HR standard to avoid athletes shortening the ROM in competition. Teach your athletes to perform the push up correctly and the need for other guidelines disappears.
    *I do happen to think the hand release push up has its place. As long as the standard isn’t just hands off ground->butt in air which is what has become common at MOST competitions.

    It is great that we are having a discussion regarding these topics. It is only through constant vigilance and criticism that we can improve as a training program and as a community.

    Would love to hear your response bud.



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