By Jonathan Horwich
Modern British art specialist
I have been involved in Modern British painting and sculpture since 1987 when I took charge of Christie’s Modern British department. This brought me into direct contact with the artists themselves, their families, friends and collectors, which I found totally absorbing and fascinating. My fate was sealed, and I think I became a Modern British ‘Lifer’ in 1988 when we held the Camden Town Group exhibition. However, little did I know back then just how large a part Lowry would play in my working life over the next 32 years.
I think it’s fair to say that L S Lowry is probably one of the best known 20th century painters in the UK, with his work being more easily recognisable to British people than many other national or even international artists. This wide recognition and easy acceptance have led to a healthy and consistently strong level of interest from private collectors over the last 60 or more years.
For the first-time art collector, Lowry’s signature pieces are immediately engaging and have a broad appeal. Typically, a first and second Lowry purchase would both be signature pictures, after which would follow less obvious works, such as a minimalist sea piece or a dreamlike, haunting, empty landscape. This interest in collecting a single artist led to the formation of some great collections, many of which I have had the privilege of either helping put together and or selling over the years.
Critical and financial success for Lowry, like so much in his life, came late. Although born in 1887, his first London exhibition at the Lefevre gallery was not until Autumn 1939, then again in 1943 and the third in 1945, when Britain had other things on its mind.
Lowry served the War out as a Fire Warden in Manchester and when life and exhibitions began again at Lefevre in the 50’s, buying Lowry pictures suddenly became very fashionable and fun and his exhibitions were sell-outs. So strong was the interest that at one point in the early 60’s Lowry’s prices at auction exceeded his then current gallery prices. As if to illustrate this, an article featuring a 1935 picture called ‘The Village Street’ (pictured) appeared in the Christie’s Review of the Year for the 1964-65 season having been sold for a then record price of 1,600 Guineas.
If the sixties marked the beginning for Lowry acquisitions and collections, then March 1995 and the Rev. Geoffrey Bennett collection sale at Christie’s, marked the beginning of a series of collection sales at auction. Bennett was followed by the Frederick Forsyth collection, 2002, Laurence Ives, 2004, Lord Forte, 2011 and the Thompson collection in 2014. All of these single owner, single artist sales helped to expand the market and to increase the awareness of Lowry and also spawned new collectors many of whom I have got to know well.
Although there haven’t been any significant collection sales since the Thompson sale in 2014, Lowry prices and interest have remained strong with top prices still being achieved for signature pictures such as Northern Race Meeting (pictured) in 2018, which achieved £5,296,000.
Equally many records still stand from 2011-2014 such as The Football Match (pictured) in 2011at £5,641,00 and Piccadilly Circus (pictured) at £5,122,000 in 2014.
Lowry painted and drew continuously throughout his long and very productive life, so happily there are still many new works out there still to be discovered. I have been fortunate enough to have seen hundreds of works by Lowry over the years through my work with collectors and involvement with the Lowry collection in Salford and I look forward to seeing many more...
"I was the only one who turned up with a pen and paper - there was no internet when I was at university."
Enrolling at the University of Cambridge and being selected for the 2019 Boat Race has been a "humbling" experience for James Cracknell.
In the boat house, he is not seen as a two-time Olympic gold medallist, nor a six-time world champion. He is a Masters student who has had to work just as hard for a seat in Cambridge's boat as all his other crew-mates.
On Sunday, he will become the oldest person to compete in the Boat Race. At 46, he is eight years older than previous record holder Andy Probert, the Cambridge cox in 1992.
Thirteen years have passed since Cracknell retired from elite rowing. But had he thought he would simply earn his Cambridge Blue blazer by name alone, he was soon brought back to reality.
"It's been the most humbling experience I've been through," Cracknell told BBC Sport.
"I walked through the door with a track record and by the end of the first week, that had gone.
"I'm sure there was a bit of respect there to start with, but that's gone, because you don't want to respect someone too much when you're trying to get the same seat."
'My neurologist would have said no'
In 2010, Cracknell fractured his skull when he was knocked off his bike by a truck in Arizona as he attempted to cycle, row, run and swim from Los Angeles to New York within 16 days.
He also suffered bruising to the brain, later experienced memory loss, and his personality altered. But don't expect less of him as a result.
"It had a really big impact on my health for a long time, and my behaviour for a couple of years, but to be honest the biggest effect has been people's perception," Cracknell said.
"You can understand certain injuries, and how long the healing time is. But people have a perception that [your mental faculties] are not going to be the same, whereas actually I wouldn't have got into Cambridge when I left school."
Cracknell, who graduated from Reading in 1993 with a degree in geography, is no stranger to a challenge.
Since retiring from competitive rowing, he has raced to the South Pole, finished 12th in the 156-mile Marathon des Sables - the best finish by a Briton - and run the London Marathon on multiple occasions.
"Neurologists are great people, but if you listen to them too much, they'll say what they think you can do," Cracknell said.
"If I said to them that I wanted to go and study at Cambridge and I wanted to do the Boat Race, they would have said no.
"But you need people around you to challenge you, set your own limits, and work out how you're going to get there."
Boat Race pride - and Tinder
Cracknell won gold in the coxless four at both the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympic Games, as well as three World Championship titles in both the pair and four.
His former crew-mates have knighthoods. His current ones are young enough to be his sons - in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, he said he had tried to talk to them about Kurt Cobain, only to learn the Nirvana singer had died before they were born.
In turn, though, he has received an education wider than his Masters in human evolution could provide.
"I'm one of the responsible athletes who gets to drive the bus," he said.
"The 20-year-olds educate me on a whole manner of things, from chemical equations to Tinder."
racknell's road to the Boat Race has been far from plain sailing, however. A rib injury kept him off the water for a period, and left him questioning whether it was worth it.
"The sport has moved on in the way people row, and so you are having to learn to row the same way they do. There's no point in doing it your way," he said.
"There were times in this past six months when I was cycling for a bit when I had damaged a rib, and I was watching them all go, and I was wondering, 'what am I doing this for?'
"When I was told I was being put in the blue boat, I can honestly say it was as proud a sporting moment as when [British head coach] Jurgen Grobler sat me down and said 'you're going to be in the coxless four', because Steve and Matthew were trusting their sporting reputations with me.
"That was a prouder moment than winning at the Olympics, having their trust.
"My coach had seen me push through a dark moment on my own when everyone was going out on the boat."
'What would happen if I didn't make the boat?'
Being selected for Cambridge's flagship boat - or Oxford's for that matter - is an honour bestowed on few people.
The alternative is the reserve boat - known as Goldie. Cambridge beat Oxford in the men's, women's and both reserve races in 2018, but there was only one boat Cracknell wanted to be in.
"I was torn with the question that I have asked myself pretty much regularly since January - what would happen if I didn't make the blue boat?" he said.
"Would I row in Goldie? Would I be too arrogant? Think I was too good?
"If you'd asked me in September, I'd probably have said I wouldn't row. But the reality of spending time with and supporting the other guys in the squad is there are two boats and you don't see them as first or second."
Cracknell announced last week that he had split from his wife of 17 years, television presenter Beverley Turner, with whom he has three children - Croyde, Kiki and Trixie.
His son was a toddler when he retired from rowing - his daughters not yet born - and he credits them as the reason he pushed his "arrogance" aside.
"Part of me doing it was for my children. None of them saw me race, and it makes absolutely no difference to them which boat I was in, but they would remember if I threw my toys out of the pram and didn't do it," he said.
"I came to the conclusion that I would do it, whereas I probably would have been too arrogant six months ago.
"If that's the only thing I have learned since coming here, then that is a good thing going forward."
The very best basketball free throw shooters can sink the ball about 90 percent of the time. What would it take to get to 95 percent? WIRED's Robbie Gonzalez steps up to the foul line with top shooter Steve Nash to find out.
Mention the words 'hen party' to any woman and just watch as a mixed wave of dread, melancholy and fatigue washes over them. It's not news that hen parties are no longer the dinner and pub situation that they once were, but they've never been as expensive, rigidly organised or maddeningly extravagant. The latest statistics, as published by Lyst, report that the average hen party costs £357.
The horror stories are endless - I have one friend who was forced to pay close to £1,000 for her best friend's hen party in Ibiza, another who, after being singled out as the only hen without a partner, was made to wear an 'on the prowl' badge all night. I've heard of hen parties overseas that have descended into a bridal version of Lord of the Flies after everyone fell out. I know another who was excluded from her own sister's five hen dos (yes five), after the bride's friends decided that she'd do something as awful as follow her sister's wishes and shut down any such parties if she was involved. There's another story I've heard about someone being asked to do a Tough Mudder in the name of hen fun; it was a cold, wet and punishing day. Another hen sprained her wrist after participating in a human hen pyramid designed for Instagram.
The hen do business has never been bigger - today it's a show of popularity, status and taste. The penis straws and strippers of old might be less common, but in their place are lavish weekends away, militantly organised forced fun and big-time costs. It's become the ultimate show of how good a friend you are - how well you know the bride and how much you're willing to pay for her to have a 'really special time'.
Hen parties have been in the news of late, after it was revealed that over £1 billion will be spent on hen parties in the UK this year which works out at an average cost of £471 per attendee. Then there's cries that the single sex nature of hen and stag dos is largely outdated (correct), prompting a rise in de-gendered pre-wedding parties, dubbed 'sten' or 'hag' dos. Is there a way of conducting a hen party without it making the guests feel like that they're partying under the guise of tyranny? Getting rid of the below neo traditions would certainly help...
The rising expense
As noted above, hen parties now cost the same as your annual holiday. There is no excuse for asking your friends to pay a tonne of money in a way they probably don't want to with people that they probably don't know or like. If you're asking a group of women to celebrate your last night of alleged freedom (an archaic notion if ever there was one; any woman who feels that she will no longer be able to see her friends for a night out after she gets married doesn't belong in this époque), then varying salaries and budgets need to be considered. This is where the idea of hen weekends/holidays fall foul - while few could argue with the joy of an all-girls holiday, the dynamic is very different on a hen. Instead, this is about appeasing the bride at all times and following the regime of a potentially power-hungry maid of honour, rather than adults having equal say and autonomy in the day's activities. Overseas jaunts aside, what also gets expensive are the staycations - where the bride's 'low-key' expectations involve a beautiful cottage for 12 in the Cotswolds or an activity-filled night in London involving theatre, food, cocktails, dancing, taxis and accommodation. A hen do that costs around £150-£200 is now seen as the lower end of the chain, which gives you an indication of how utterly ridiculous this has all become. I know friends of brides who have been forced to sell belongings on eBay just to ensure that they don't have to choose between a hen party and already planned holidays.
One final point on this - please can we all commit to stop paying for the bride? It is the bride's party - we are already paying for travel, accommodation, food, drink and needless activities, coupled with the cost of the upcoming wedding (which will be either abroad or at least 20 mins taxi ride from a train station), wedding present and new outfit for the big day. Must we also cover the cost of the woman at the centre of it all?
It's always interesting to note when looking at such issues how the men are doing it - and by in large in the case of stag dos, men don't create militant itineraries where there is zero chance of spontaneous fun. Hen dos so often involve entertainment and activities that no one would ever dream of doing in normal circumstances; when have you ever felt a hankering to do life drawing, hat making, mug painting, public fancy dress, sports days, any form of culinary tutorial or cocktail making before? Or perhaps you'd want to do one of the aforementioned, but it's unlikely you'd want to do them all at once because that would be expensive and tiring. Next we come to the often lengthy, embarrassing and archaic notion of Mr and Mrs. For those fortunate enough to be unfamiliar, this is a game where couples answer questions about each other to see how well they know each other - usually with hilarious results! Everyone watches while the bride-to-be giggles over whether or not he knows her favourite colour etc. Stags don't have to endure these hijinks - they instead follow the same getting to know each other method as generations before us: drinking. Then there are the 'how well do you know the bride' and 'how well does the bride know you' games which are designed as ice-breakers, but also work as a wonderfully easy way of inducing inadequacy and alienation.
The horrible competitiveness and pressure to be the best friend ever
There's something about hen and stag dos that bring out the worst stereotypes in both gender - for women, it's the hideous competitiveness to prove how close you are to the bride. The film Bridesmaids is funny because it amplifies truths - everyone can relate to feeling outdone by another hen, or just felt an immense pressure to partake and pay for whatever unnecessary activity has been deemed best for the bride. Regardless of how much you're told a certain part of the day is optional, it takes a strong woman to put her foot down and say she'll skip a certain aspect of it in the face of such social pressure. No one wants to look like a crap friend, but true friendship isn't defined by whether or not you have the time or money for afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason. And no one in the group will be immune to these pressures either - the maid-of-honour, who is often in charge of the hen, is under it to come up with the 'most special day/night/weekend/week/year' for the bride who may or may not already have imposed certain demands. This pressure filters down through the hen hierarchy to the bridesmaids, who are all trying to vie to do their bit - perhaps with an assortment of DIY collages to prove just how much XXXX means to them or by filling the hen house with approximately 150 tea lights for the bride's arrival by which point the venue will look like a mausoleum. The triangle finishes with the second-tier friends who are all quietly resentful that they have had to fork out £150 for a cocktail-tasting-chocolate-making-flower-arranging course in Bath that they have gone along with for the sake of an easy life.
The dreaded #bridesquad WhatsApp group
Nothing makes a woman shudder more than being added to the hen party WhatsApp group. There is a fleeting moment of feeling flattered, before the #wedmin #bridetribe #idocrew discussion begins - months upon months of inane, passive aggressive messaging about what form the hen party should take, when it should happen, how much it should cost and how long it should be. Your phone will not have battery again until after the wedding and if you look away for more than an hour, expect to see 125 unread messages. Every now and again, a brave little hen will say that perhaps the £60 set meal is a little steep, to which the maid of honour will invariably say, 'No problem, I just want it to be really special for XXXX' - as if there was some sort of implication that the aforementioned hen had plans to sabotage the bride's party, ruin the wedding, and all that love is. If you try and mute the WhatsApp group, you may or may not find yourself lumbered with a £70 bill for a West End musical you'd rather not see - so best be on your guard.
Single sex hen parties
It is truly baffling that most hen and stag parties are gender specific. My favourite people are not only women and I want them all there at any important celebration if they're available. Most people have friends of the opposite sex, but for some reason this most allegedly hedonistic celebratory experience needs to happen with only same sex guests. For men, women are still too sensitive and fragile to handle their big shot boozy night out or weekend away. For women, there is more openness to gay male hens, but on the whole straight male guests are a no-no. If your friends are all women, then great, but if you have a mixed-sex group of friends then why commit to a tradition that feels regressive? Most of most would agree that gender inequality is a negative, and yet hen and stag nights merrily compound divisions.
Disclaimer: Not all hen dos are hideous. Everyone wants to celebrate their friend getting married (although isn't that what the wedding is for?), and love is the best cause for a party. I have been to at least two hen nights/weekends that I have enjoyed, all of which have gallantly involved the requisites of a good party - food, drink, music, good company and a hint of spontaneity.
ENTRIES OPEN FOR THE BEST DRESSED LOCATION
The 2019 Tour de Yorkshire Best Dressed Competition - which honours communities and individuals that go the extra mile to celebrate the race - is now open for entries.
The competition - organised in partnership with the Yorkshire Post - has four categories: Best Dressed Village, Best Dressed Town, Best Dressed Host Location and Spirit of Le Tour.
The Best Dressed awards will be given to locations with the most spectacular, eye-catching decorations. The Spirit of Le Tour award will recognise an individual, community or business which has gone above and beyond to fully embrace the essence of the Tour de Yorkshire in a unique way.
Previous races have been celebrated with everything from spotty houses, dyed sheep, miles of handmade bunting, fantastic floral displays and incredible yarn bombing. We’ve even seen Tour de Yorkshire themed food like blue and yellow fish and chips, chocolate trophies, specially designed cakes and pies and even themed beers.
This year’s Tour de Yorkshire passes through 151 villages, towns and cities with images of our county set to be beamed to 190 countries across the world, showcasing Yorkshire at its very best to millions of people.
A new and improved online entry process has been launched this year, making it even easier to get involved. Full details of how to enter can be found here.
After the race - which runs from 2-5 May - a shortlist of the best entries will be drawn up by a panel of judges and the winner of each category will be presented with an exclusive commemorative plaque to display in their community.
Peter Dodd, Commercial Director, Welcome to Yorkshire, said: "Every year we’re blown away by the creativity of people who pull out all the stops to decorate their home towns and villages to celebrate the Tour de Yorkshire - which is so much more than a bike race, it’s about bringing people together.
"We couldn’t be prouder of the way our communities get together to make sure their towns and villages look their very best as we showcase our glorious county to the world.
"We’re encouraging people to get their village, town or city fully decorated by Easter, to make sure they benefit during this peak tourism period just ahead of the race. I can’t wait to see all the wacky and wonderful ideas people will come up with this year."
The Best Dressed Competition was launched in 2018 with Kippax (Best Dressed Village), Hornsea (Best Dressed Town) and Ilkley (Best Dressed Host Location) all emerging victorious. Samantha Whitley from Garforth was awarded the Spirit of Le Tour prize for her tireless work in the community.
One of the trends that’s been picking up over the last few years in the Scotch whisky world, especially single malts, is a diversification of casks used for the maturation of whisky spirit.
While used American bourbon casks remain the mainstay of the industry, with sherry casks (or ‘sherry seasoned’ casks) also often being used, other casks are also now squeezing their way into the whisky market. Casks that held port, rum, Cognac, and fortified wine are all now being used, amongst others.
This also includes an includes a wide variety of 'regular' unfortified wines. With so much wine being produced around the world, it makes sense to secure a steady supply of casks from vineyards that can be used to help create new and unusual whiskies. Using wine casks, both red and white, in whisky is still far from common. A lack of a regular large supply of casks also means that so far, most wine releases are limited editions of some kind.
So the whiskies listed here comprise most of the wine-matured whiskies that you can still find fairly easily or have been released in larger quantities, either online or in shops. There’s not too many! The prices I’ve listed here come from a variety of sources, but you might be able to find a better deal. Keep an eye out for other harder-to-find bottles that might make their way over to your neighborhood as well.
Here they are in alphabetical order.
Bunnahabhain Eirigh Na Greine
It used to be easily available in airports (it was originally released for the travel retail market) but it’s a tricky find these days. Partly aged in French red wine casks, this no age statement (NAS) whisky is a fruity delight. The price may seem high for a young whisky but keep in mind that this is usually found in full liter bottles, as opposed to the usual 70 cl. It’s won a few awards too. ($96)
Caol Ila Distiller’s Edition
This is a great whisky, usually bottled at 11 or 12 years old, it varies over the years. Finished in Moscatel wine casks, Caol Ila’s usual gentle but firm smoke, oily saltiness, and malty goodness is complimented by the citrusy sweetness. A very rare example of muscatel wine being used in whisky. (Price varies)
Cotswolds Single Malt
An English whisky has snuck into this Scotch list. The first whisky ever distilled in the Cotswolds in England, the Cotswolds Single Malt uses locally grown barley malted on site (a true rarity in the whisky world). Matured in both first fill bourbon and reconditioned red wine casks that have been shaved, toasted, and recharred. It’s one of the most exciting releases to come out of England so far, and manages to balance a host of lovely gentle flavors, including vanilla and bread dough, around a truly citrusy core. ($62)
Glenfiddich 19 Year Old Age of Discovery Red Wine Cask
Part of Glenfiddich’s Age of Discovery travel retail series, this particular release (the third one in the bunch) honors the 1831 voyage of the HMS Beagle’s trip to South America. As a result, the red wine casks used as part of the secondary maturation of the whisky come from South America as well. Unfortunately, I’ve never actually had the chance to try this one though it gets good reviews and is noted as ‘rich, warm, and spicy’ on The Whisky Exchange. ($196)
Glen Moray 10 year old Chardonnay Matured
I’ve been happily banging the drum about this incredible budget-friendly whisky for a while. It seems it might be discontinued soon, so get a bottle or few while they are still relatively easy to find. Aged entirely in ex-chardonnay casks (the only whisky to my knowledge that has done so, definitely the only one that has been in a distillery’s core range), it’s nippy and delightfully fruity. ($40)
The last of the Islay distillery’s limited edition releases of 2018, most of the 10,000 bottles for this barbecued fruit beauty sold quite quickly though there’s still a few places where you can find it. Initially matured in the usual bourbon casks, the whisky spends its final 5 months in Sauternes wine casks and is bottled at a stronger-than-usual 50% ABV. A great mix of smoke, salt, and tangy fruit, it’s certainly a unique tipple. ($100)
Raasay While We Wait 2018 Edition
I reviewed this one not too long ago. Though it bears the imprint of the new Raasay distillery from the remote isle of Raasay, this whisky actually is made in Loch Lomond (a great distillery) while Raasay ages its stock. Two Loch Lomond expressions, peated and unpeated, are made and then mixed together, aged in bourbon for a time before finished in Tuscan red wine casks, sourced from three vineyars that produce Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. This is the 4thedition of While We Wait, and I highly approve of its taste combining oranges, wine gums, and bacon. However, the best version of it, in my opinion, is the 1st edition. ($70)
Don’t you dare close your eyes: The trailer for Disney’s live-action remake of Aladdin is here. And to nearly everyone’s surprise, it’s actually more beautiful than all of the treasures in Agrabah. Loaded with all the nostalgic hits millennials care about (including the pop ballad “A Whole New World”), the trailer presents a surprisingly gritty, fun fantasy adventure that looks far less gaudy than Disney’s previous live-action efforts.
On Tuesday, Disney released the trailer for Aladdin, in theaters on May 24, which is a more meaty, story-centric follow-up to the teaser that premiered in December, and also the one that weirded out the internet in February.
In this new trailer, Aladdin (Mena Massoud) parkours through Agrabah like a “street rat” until he meets the beautiful Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) Power Rangers). From there, he also meets the Genie (Will Smith), who grants him his wish to become the charming “Prince Ali” while evading the powerful and sinister Jafar (Marwan Kenzari).
Peppered with all the familiar karaoke faves, Aladdin looks to be a beat-for-beat recreation of the 1992 animated original, which won two Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song. (Fun fact: There wasn’t a Best Animated Feature Oscar until 2001. The first movie to win it? Shrek.)
We all love to hate on winter. Trudging through the snow while simultaneously ruining our nicest shoes, either freezing in several layers at our desk or burning up because the heat’s blasting, leaving the office in the late afternoon to a sad, pitch-black evening.
I get it, it’s not the best time of year. But it could be!
Bear with me here. I can come up with plenty of reasons why this should be your new favorite season, but when you’re also trapped in the office, I get that it feels like every day is destined to be a bad day. So here are eight little ways you can enjoy the comforts of winter at work—and hopefully start to love it a little more.
1. Bring a Blanket to Work
3. Take Hot Chocolate Breaks
5. Plan an Outing
7. Add Some Ambiance
8. Make Mulled Wine Happy Hour a Thing
The Super Bowl isn't just about football.
On February 3rd, 2019 Atlanta played host the the Super Bowl, which according to some reports, cost the city a whopping $46 million.
If you’ve never been to a Super Bowl host city during the week leading up to the game, let me explain what you’re missing. It’s like Mardi Gras meets Burning Man and Spring Break -- for both sports fanatics and business executives.
In the week leading up to the Super Bowl, the NFL, its fans and sponsors take over the host city. That includes nearby hotels, nightclubs, and restaurants. It’s big business both on and off the field.
I spent 48 hours during Super Bowl weekend with Justin Giangrande, the Executive Vice President of VaynerSports (a full-service agency co-founded by serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk and his brother AJ). During that time, I got a glimpse into what a sports marketing agency does.
That includes the story of Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison, who recently signed with VaynerSports, to Tyree Jackson, an NFL prospect and quarterback who was filming an ESPN feature.
There’s also the story of retired professional athletes like Walter Powell, who previously played wide receiver for the New York Jets. After stepping away from the game to pursue a new career path as a tech founder with his app Politiscope, Powell was in town for the Super Bowl to network and elevate awareness of his entrepreneurial endeavors.
According to Giangrande, having the backing of Gary Vaynerchuk and his influence along with the VaynerMedia roster of brand clients offers a competitive advantage compared to traditional sports agencies or agents.
“Helping clients accomplish things they never thought they would or doing things which are special,” Giangrade says, are critical to making VaynerSports grow organically by word of mouth amongst athletes.
During our interview, Giangrade shared a story of getting Carolina Panthers Quarterback Kyle Allen a custom Bird scooter to ride to practice and introducing Arizona Cardinals Defensive Lineman Robert Nkemdiche to famed guitarist Carlos Santana as examples of going above and beyond for their clients.
To view the interview in its entirety, watch above.
The next time you go to the gym, take a look around: you’ll probably see all kinds of exercises, some good and some not-so-good.
The unfortunate truth is that not all exercises are created equal. Some are incredibly effective at building muscle and melting fat; others are ineffective and can even do more harm than good. (Worse, the bad ones are sometimes very popular.)
Read on for our list of the worst exercises — the ones you should avoid at all costs. If you currently have them in your exercise routine, try our alternatives, which are far more effective and take your body to the next level.
1. SITUPS AND CRUNCHES
Situps and crunches are as old-school as it gets: You see them in PE class, boot camps and military training around the world. But get ready for some big news because these tummy exercises aren’t effective or good for you.
Your core -- which consists of your rectus abdominis, external and internal obliques, transverse abdominis, pelvic floor, etc. — is designed to help your body stabilize and brace against twisting and bending (not generate it).
Situps and crunches, however, eliminate the bracing and put your body into bad positions: You pull your neck forward, round your shoulders, flex your spine and put a lot of stress on your lower back. (It also goes without saying that you should avoid the situp machine too for those reasons.)
Instead, choose ab exercises that help you maintain a good posture throughout the exercise. If you want to take your core strength to the next level and get washboard abs, try our super effective 14-day plank challenge: It uses many different variations to blast your midsection from different angles to test your muscles (and your mind).
2. SMITH MACHINE EXERCISES
With the exception of the inverted row, avoid all exercises on the Smith machine. It seems safe because the bar has a lock that activates when you let go, but it puts your body in unnatural positions because the bar only moves in a straight, rigid line, which is not how you move in real life.
Also, because the bar follows a straight path, you don’t get to improve your stability or balance and you won’t get the same muscle gains you’d like. Researchers found that free-weight squatsand free-weight bench presses activated more muscles than doing the same exercise on a Smith machine.
Stick to the free-weight version of your exercise: barbell squat, dumbbell bench press, etc. You’ll get more overall benefits and build more muscle and strength.
3. SEATED TWIST MACHINE
Remember what we said about how the core is supposed to move? Well, the vertebrae of your spine at your lower back can only twist 13 degrees in each direction, which is tinier than one hour on a clock. But the seated twist machines actually crank your body well beyond that range-of-motion.
If you want to improve your rotational strength, try the kneeling Palloff press. Get on both knees and set a cable handle to chest height. Facing perpendicular to the cable, bring the handle to your chest, and push it straight forward. Do it facing both ways. You have to brace your trunk to resist twisting and turning, which fires your core and keeps your spine in a safe position.
You might see these done in gyms or even physical therapy centers in an effort to “strengthen” your lower back. But the problem is it cranks your lower back into hyperextension while putting tremendous load and compression onto your lumbar spine. (Most people have a lower back that’s already too extended, which creates something called “lordosis.”)
Substitute supermans with another exercise if it’s a part of your current fitness program. Instead of directly targeting your lower back, focus on strengthening your entire trunk — back, abs, obliques, etc. — with core exercises where you maintain great posture throughout.
Try the single-arm farmers carry: Grab a heavy dumbbell in one hand, keep your chest up and shoulder blades squeezed, then walk. Maintain a neutral lower back and don’t arch excessively.
5. BACK EXTENSIONS
The back extension machine tries to strengthen your lower back by repeatedly flexing and extending it, which can cause problems. Worse, a lot of people hold a weight plate behind their head or at their chest, which further increases the stress on your spine.
6. UPRIGHT ROW
This popular exercise targets your shoulders and traps. Unfortunately, it’s one of the worst exercises you can do for your shoulders because it impinges your shoulder joints. The upright row actually forces you to internally rotate your shoulders and pull a heavy weight while in a poor position, which can lead to all kinds of problems.
Instead, to build strong and wide shoulders, replace upright rows with the dumbbell overhead press. It targets your upper body without adding unnecessary (and impinging) stress to your shoulder joint.
7. BEHIND-THE-NECK LAT PULLDOWNS OR BEHIND-THE-NECK PRESSES
Avoid any upper-body exercise where you pull or push from behind your neck because it puts tremendous strain on your shoulders. In a behind-the-neck position, your shoulders are almost at their maximal limit on extension in those positions — throwing weight on top of it just adds more strain to a fragile area.
Always do lat pulldowns, chin-ups, pullups, etc. toward your collar bones; if you’re going to press a weight overhead, start with the barbell at your collar bone or use dumbbells or kettlebells.