How many times have you done an exercise? and then as soon as you finish, you feel pain. you might feel it in your lower back, or your shoulders. but you find yourself thinking, did I do something wrong? or does this exercise just suck.
Well in reality it isn’t always you. there are a lot of exercise out there, that are plain bad for you, and they only continue to exist, just because they’ve been passed down from one misinformed gym bro, to the next. and no one’s been smart enough to realize that these common exercises are no good.
So today we’re going over 10 exercises, that all men should avoid. and these exercises aren’t only exclusive to men, women should avoid these exercises as well. it’s just that in this article, we’ll be sticking to exercises that I usually find men doing wrong.
1. Exercises You Should Avoid: Selectorizer Ab Machine
The very first one i want to start with, is actually a group of exercises, that guys are drawn to like moths to a flame. I’m talking about all the selector Iser ab machines, at your local gym, the machines that you usually start, by sitting down, pulling out the pins, selecting your weight, then grabbing some handles behind your head, and doing some crunches.
These machines are not only a waste of time, but they’re also very dangerous for your lower back. all these selector eyes are ab machines, are locked into a range of motion, meaning that your joints, and your discs can’t travel down their natural path, you can only travel down the path that the machine has set for you, even if you somehow adjust the machine to your body perfectly, (which by the way is very hard to do) but even if you somehow had a machine custom-built for your body, you can still easily run into lower back issues, because you’re still locked in a range of motion throughout the entire exercise.
Besides a greater potential for a lower back injury, you will also get significantly less results from these machines. and if you just stick to regular ab exercises like : crunches, and sit-ups, hanging knee tucks, and decline sit-ups, the reason is once again due to the fact that you’re locked into a range of motions. the cores main responsibility is stabilization, and it’s important to improve your functional core strength, because your core isn’t only responsible for stabilizing your trunk, and your torso, but it also stabilizes your whole body. it’s the bridge that connects your lower body to your upper body when you’re locked in a range of motion, you take all the stabilization normally required for ab exercises out of the movement.
2. Exercises You Should Avoid: Behind the Head Shoulder Press
The next exercise you should avoid, is the behind the head shoulder press. first off there’s absolutely no advantage to going behind your head, none! even though I’m sure some old-school guys will be disagreeing with me, you can research this yourself, and you’ll find when you go behind the head, you’re still targeting the same muscles that you would normally target, if you went in front of your head.
Also there’s no advantage, when going behind your head, that’ll allow you to, for example: build more shoulder muscle faster, instead what will happen when you go behind your head, is you’ll be putting your shoulders in a very compromised position, to go behind your head, you’re gonna have to externally rotate your arms outward putting your rotator cuff in a very unstable, and weak position. this will immediately require you to lower the weight that you’re using for your shoulders, this already creates a huge disadvantage when compared with just going in front of your head with a heavier weight, by lifting a heavier weight in front of your head, you’ll get more strength improvements and more muscle gains over time.
On top of that, in that compromised position that has no advantage, you’re very likely to hurt your rotator cuff. most people already have very tight protracted shoulders, because sitting slouched over all day to compensate for a lack of shoulder flexibility, and mobility. people that try this exercise will bend their neck forward to get the bar behind their head, increasing the risk of injury, not only to your shoulder joint, but also to the neck joint, and again keep in mind the guys that you see performing this old-school exercise at the gym, are doing it for no reason, because there are no proven benefits for going behind the head. only risks and disadvantages.
So when you do your presses simply keep the barbell in front of your face the whole time trust me your shoulders and your neck will thank you and you’ll also see much more results.
3. Smith Machine
Next up is the smith machine, and yes! the smith machine itself, can be used effectively as a supplement to your workout, but the way that most guys use it is wrong, and should be avoided.
A perfect example is using the smith machine for squats, many guys believe that by sticking to the smith machine, for most of their compound lifts, like squats, and presses, they’ll help prevent an injury with the smith machine, due to the fact that it looks like a barbell in a squat rack. it’s very easy to forget, that it’s not a free weight exercise. meaning it does not have a free range of motion at all.
Just like most other select riser equipment, it’s locked into a range of motion, which like i said earlier, will immediately take the stabilization benefits away from whatever exercise you do, when using the Smith machine. specifically with the Smith machine squat, you’re putting yourself into a very unnatural squatting pattern.
First of all, the whole time that you’ll be doing the exercise, you’ll be leaning your weight back, this would be impossible to do with a regular barbell, because you would simply fall backwards, rather than allowing your back to bend, as you come down your back is forced to stay perfectly straight, which to most beginners, might make it seem like you would decrease the risk of a back injury, but it only increases it. especially because your hips, are also not allowed to freely move throughout this movement.
During a squat, your hips, and your back, should be allowed to curve, and then around its natural range of motion. this exercise on the other hand creates a very unnatural range of motion that you should avoid. do regular barbell, or dumbbell squats, with proper form instead.
4. Hip abduction and adduction machine
Another exercise that men should avoid, is one that I actually find women doing even more than men. the hip abduction, and adduction machines.
There is no natural movement, that would load your hips, with the kind of heavy weight, that you’ll be lifting on these machines, in that movement pattern. this machine is known for causing serious lower back injuries, because, it’s not normal to lift a heavy load, in that position. these muscles are normally simply used to stabilize the body, when you stand, walk, or run… However, almost everybody I’ve ever seen, use these machines at the gym, is super proud of the heavy weight load, they’re able to lift, in this very unnatural position.
If you’re really concerned about working your adductors, and your abductors, then perform exercises, with resistance bands, while standing, rather than using these two seriously dangerous machines.
5. Seated Torso Rotation Machine
Another very dangerous machine for your spine, is the seated torso rotation machine, this is the exercise where you stick your knees, in between two pads, and twist your lower body left, and right to work your obliques supposedly.
The problem with this is that, when you rotate your spine your hips are designed to rotate as well, once again, due to the fact that the machine is locked into a range of motion, your hips cannot rotate properly, putting excessive pressure on your spine. you’re a lot more likely to end up with a messed up back, rather, than a nice set of abs, when doing this machine. there are many far better ways that you could work your obliques, without risking a back injury, such as : cable Wood chops, and side planks.
6. Upright Row
Next up is the upright row, to perform this exercise, you would usually use a barbell, with an overhand grip, and raise the bar up towards your chin, with your elbows flaring out. the problem with the upright row, is that as you come up your arms rotate internally more and more, to complete the movement, due to this internal rotation in combination with this usually being a heavy weight bearing exercise, many people experience a shoulder injury, or impingement when doing this exercise.
In fact, even performing this exercise correctly, will immediately put you into an impingement position, because it has the rotator cuff, moving in an on actual way, especially when you add weight to the movement. physical therapists will put you in a very similar position to the upright row, to test for impingement. so you don’t want to be doing an exercise designed to test for impingement, especially not for reps, and sets with a heavy weight load, over time it can and will lead to an overuse injury.
Also there are far more effective exercises, with far fewer risks involved. first off, you can raise your hands above your elbows, as you come up for this exercise, rather than having your elbows above your hands. if you want to work on the front, and the lateral head of your shoulders, regular lateral raises will usually give you more than an upright row without the risk, if you want to strictly work on the front of your shoulder, then you could lean back in a bench, and do incline frontal raises, and for the traps you could do things like : clean and presses, and snatches… all of these exercises can provide more benefit, without the risk involved with upright rows.
7. Lat Pull Down Behind The Head
The next problematic exercise, is the lap pull down behind the head. Too many guys in the gym must be thinking that they’re Rocky Balboa, or something, when they rep it out with this exercise. the lap pull down behind the head, is bad for all the same reasons that make behind the head shoulder press is bad.
Once again, just to get the bar behind your head, you’re going to increase the chances of a rotator cuff injury, because you need to rotate your arms externally, as far as they can go. Again, due to the fact, that most people already have a lack of flexibility in their shoulders, you’ll also increase the risk of injury to not only your shoulders, but also to your neck.
And finally, the nail in the coffin, is that once again you won’t be able to lift as much weight as a regular lat pulldown. meaning you’ll be building less strength, and less muscle over time, while risking unnecessary shoulder and neck injuries, this is once again another exercise with nothing but disadvantages.
8. Leg Press Machine
The next one that i want to go over, i already know is going to make a lot of people mad, but I want to help all of you avoid an injury. So let’s talk about the leg press machine, the leg press machine, is very bad mechanically for your body. because it does not allow your muscles, and your joints to perform in a functional manner, and it puts a huge amount of stress on your knees, and your lower back.
When you naturally lift weight with your legs, your back is allowed to move freely, but on the leg press, your back is pinned against the pad, because once again you’re in a lock range of motion, it has very similar problems as performing the smith machine squats,
Some people are actually able to get away with doing this exercise, without too much of an issue, but I’ve also seen an equal amount of people hurt their lower backs, because your back winds up in an awkward flex position the whole time. Regular barbell squats, walking, lunges, deadlifts, split squats… and a number of other leg exercises are far more effective, and functional than this one. So i recommend that you stick to those whenever possible.
9. Exercises You Should Avoid : Leg Extensions & Leg Curls
Speaking of useless leg exercises, you should also avoid leg extensions, and leg curls, unless you’re rehabbing an injury, or unless you’re looking to be a body builder. these two exercises don’t serve much of a purpose, they’re not functional, they put excess stress on your knee, and there are far better alternatives that can help you build more functional leg muscle in less time.
They also isolate the knee joint, which is very unnatural, because whenever you normally work your knee joint in real life, you’re also working your hip joint. the worst part is that all the strength that you build from this exercise, cannot be applied mechanically to most movements that you would encounter in real life.
10. Back Hyper Extension Machine
The last exercise that I want you to look out for, is the back hyperextension machine. even though there is a safer way to perform this exercise, a lot of the people that do it, do it completely wrong, and they wind up hurting the lower back in the process.
The spine is not meant to extend past the point of neutral at any time, with this exercise so many people extend their backs past that point on every rep that they come up, and they wind up with a strain lower back, or a full-out injury to their discs.
Even when doing this exercise properly, you could still hurt your lower back, just by performing reps with a weight held against your chest, for that reason if you do try this exercise be very careful, and start with just your body weight, to avoid a lower back injury.
Another article you may like : 8 Common Gym Exercises You Need To Stop Doing Wrong