People sometimes complain a lot about certain exercises and how bad they are to do. In some cases it can simply be a matter of never learning how to perform the exercise in the proper manner to stimulate the muscles properly while not damaging yourself. Squats, cleans, and deadlifts certainly fall into that category because learning proper powerlifting technique isn’t always easy. But other exercises just have no good benefit. They either don’t properly work a target muscle or leave you in either a vulnerable or dangerous position.
Why anyone would want to hurt themselves when they are spending so much time and energy to improve themselves physically is beyond belief. So read the following list carefully and then consider this information before your next workout if any of these are exercises that you normally utilize.
Exercises to Avoid
- Hip Adduction Machine – This machine is functionally useless. It was created to try and get women more interested in working out and ‘targeting’ the inner thighs. But in this sitting position what muscles are you actually engaging? While you might feel some strain in the tendons and joints along with soreness, the actual muscles are not being taxed in any meaningful way in this position.
- 45 Degree Leg Presses – This is a popular machine for guys to load up tons of weight and do very little. Numerous experts, including Dr. Stuart McGill (a professor of spinal biomechanics) know that using this machine can destroy your lower back. The angle puts your spine in an at-risk position and then you have a bunch of weight pressing down at one of the worst angles. Over time this will wear your vertebrae down until one day your back will start to hurt and you probably won’t know why. Squats, hack squats, and lunges are all great alternatives or even the lying leg press machine with your hips at a 90 degree angle.
- Barbell Behind the Neck Press – You don’t see this station as much at modern gyms but they used to be available everywhere in the 1970’s thru the 1990’s. This issue of pressing a barbell behind you neck involves placing the shoulders in a very vulnerable position. The rotator cuff can be delicate and trying to lift and stabilize in this position can cause wear or even a tear on the cuff. Plus titling your head forward with added stress can add to neck strain. This makes for a lose-lose combination.
- Overhead Barbell Shrugs – I have no idea why someone thought this was a good idea. You press a barbell overhead with a wide grip and then hold it in place and perform a shrug. This is a risk to your shoulders and neck.
- Chest Fly Machines – This depends on the machine. Those machines with pads that hit at your elbow typically are awful to use. First, most people use too much weight on these types of machines which can result in rotator cuff damage and biceps tendonitis. Machines with more flexible arms that allow you to use your hands to grip and where the arms are kept relatively straight have less of an issue but only with lighter weight and higher reps.
- Heavy Balance Ball Exercises – This falls under the dangerous category. A balance ball is a great tool and can be combined with certain exercises for agility and balance work. But they should not be involved with any heavy exercise because your body needs a solid base when you are lifting that weight unless you want to leave yourself open to an injury. We won’t even get into what might happen if you do lose your balance.