Harley Pasternak: 5 Moves You Shouldn’t Do at the Gym

03/05/2014 at 11:34 AM ET

Harley Pasternak
Courtesy Harley Pasternak

Harley Pasternak is a celebrity trainer and nutrition expert who has worked with stars from Halle Berry and Lady Gaga to Robert Pattinson and Robert Downey Jr. He’s also a New York Times best-selling author, with titles including The Body Reset Diet and The 5-Factor Diet. Tweet him @harleypasternak.

I hate gyms.

Let me explain: I love working out, and I love the variety of equipment and tools that health clubs have to offer, but I just can’t stand watching people exercise in a way that leads them further away from their goals, or worse, may get them injured!

At the gym, more often than not, people place an emphasis on the muscles they can see when they look in the mirror. As a result, we tend to over-train the muscles on the front of the body — pecs, quads, biceps, front of the abs. This muscular imbalance pulls our bodies inward, and we end up looking slightly concave, creating the illusion of a shorter, stockier, gorilla-like torso.

In addition to the postural disadvantages that come with anterior (or front-side) dominance, women tend to have longer legs and shorter upper bodies than men, so being anterior-dominant looks even more severe on women (sorry, ladies!).

For this reason, I place a premium on exercises that target the muscles on the posterior (back half) of the body, which pull us back straighter, open us up and make us look “longer” and leaner. I’ll show you moves to achieve that look in next week’s blog.

Here are 5 exercises that you should definitely do very rarely (if ever) because they “draw us forward”:

Bench Press

Bench Press
Courtesy Harley Pasternak


Courtesy Harley Pasternak


Courtesy Harley Pasternak

Leg Raises

Leg Raises
Courtesy Harley Pasternak

Shoulder Raises (to the front)

Shoulder Raises
Courtesy Harley Pasternak

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Showing 15 comments

okayyyy on

So what are the ones we SHOULD do, People?

Mr G. on

This guy is so full of it. I guess when you’re anonymous and craving attention, a careless, controversial and irresponsible statement can get your name out there. He is not smart enough to realize these lies will get him fifteen minutes of fame or attention while the truth will get you a lifetime of admirers, fans and followers. The five moves he is suggesting you stop doing are the core exercises of any health fitness program. Any health fitness expert/trainer will tell you that. Without a regular routine of these exercises you will NEVER achieve total body fitness. You DON’T eliminate these exercises but add the other back exercises to your workout to strengthen your back muscles and balance your body out. This guy is good at one thing. Turning any credibility he may have once had into a big fat “ZERO” in one fell swoop. Good job Mortimer. You’re a genius!

readthearticle!!! on

If you took the time to read the whole article you would see….”I’ll show you moves to achieve that look in next week’s blog.”…..

mmiikkee on

Wow-these recommendations leave me speechless. How about simply recommending a balanced workout? These exercises should be done “rarely if ever” because they draw us forward?? What?? Amazing what the “experts” come up with.

Anna on

I think saying these exercises shouldn’t be done isn’t accurate … more like you need to do these PLUS do workouts that focus on the back of you as well, to balance things out.

Ali on

Interesting! Can’t wait for next week’s blog!

Lauren on

It’s funny he mentions these because in his workout program for the xbox that’s what you’re doing a lot of the time.

No thanks! on

This guy’s articles are so preachy. I understand the message that he is trying to convey, but I just don’t like his tone.

clakatos on

Sooooo, instead of offering the CORRECT way to look at these exercises, which is to balance them with the appropriate back, scapular (shoulder blade), and extensor exercises, we should just “rarely” do them? Incorrect. Should we avoid these exercises all together because they are dangerous? NO! Should we balance chest press and DB flys with seated rows and lat pull downs? YES! Further, for the record, SOME people are recommended to not perform exercises such as forward shoulder raises and leg extensions because of pain (patellar compression, shoulder impingement, rotator cuff injury, knee instability, to name a few), but to BLINDLY say to avoid them is horribly wrong. You also don’t even state the correct reason for avoiding those particular exercises. Last time I took Anatomy in grad school, I don’t remember anyone telling me that performing knee extensions would somehow inexplicably “pull me inward.” The statements he makes are completely false, and furthering contributing to the fear that people will “get hurt” if they use weights at the gym. Bottom line – check with your healthcare provider if you have concerns over a specific exercise or if a specific movement/activity/exercises causes you pain.

ian on

They key is symmetry and balance, as we all know. Symmetry is equal strength and ability in all three planes of the body. While overtraining the front of your body (too much pushing) is an obvious issue in many gym-goers who don’t know what they are doing, anybody with a background in the field, or experience in training, pilates, yoga, etc.. knows that you need to balance every joint action. It is true that most people suffer from tightness in the front (chest, anterior delta etc) and weakness in the extensors and scapular retractors, due to daily activities such as sitting, texting, driving, or typing (arms forward). Those people should rarely do pushing exercises until they can strengthen their back and loosen their front, then they can begin to work in the pushing/anterior exercises.

Also he says hell show you moves to attain a leaner looking body next week, all five exercises will be exact opposites of the motions listed above. Do both!

smilingdede on

What?! I think that he could have worded this differently. If and I do mean IF these were the ONLY exercises you were doing then yes, you would be imbalanced. If this is part of a core workout routine that hits all muscle groups; back,, chest, abs, biceps, triceps, shoulders, legs, calves then these exercises are fine and are incorporated with your overall training..
I would love to know his credentials as well. Who is he certified by? They are never posted just that he is a celebrity trainer and books he has written. This article makes him look very foolish IMO.

supergluuued on

from Wikipedia:
Pasternak graduated from York Mills Collegiate Institute, and holds an honors degree in kinesiology from the University of Western Ontario, and a masters degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutritional Sciences from the University of Toronto.

During his time at UT, Pasternak served as a Nutrition and Exercise Scientist at Department of National Defence’s DCIEM (Defence and Civil Institute for Environmental Medicine) from 2005-2007. As a scientist, Harley focused on performance physiology and nutrition, with a specialty in caffeine and ephedrine. His work was published in the scientific journal, Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise in June, 2003,[1] and in The Canadian Journal of Sports Medicine. Harley is also certified by the American College of Sports Medicine and the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, and is an IDEA Master Trainer.[2]

April on

I’ll give this author a 10/10 concerned troll.

E! on

!@#! it!

passer by on

OMG the 3 first moves are included in his book 5 Factor Fitness, I don’t get it

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