Strength training is an integral part of a healthy fitness routine, but there are specific exercises you should avoid. Strength training helps you to lose weight and gain valuable muscle, but at the same time, it can come with some inherent dangers. Many mistakes made by people in the gym, such as poor form, not adding variety to your workouts, not stretching before and after, not adjusting machines, and more, can lead to injuries. One mistake we can avoid is using equipment or performing an exercise that, more often than not, will lead to an injury.

 

Here Are 7 Exercises You Should Avoid At All Costs

 

Leg extension machine

The leg extension machine forces you to place your ankles behind a foam pad while seated.  The heavier the weight you put on the machine, the more stress you are putting on your knees, and the higher the chance of injury. In isolating the quad muscles, which is the intended use of the machine, there is also undue stress placed on your knees. The pressure on your knees has to do with the position of the machine and the use of your ankles as a point of resistance. The most common knee injury from using the leg extension machine deals with the ACL or anterior cruciate ligament and therefore is just one of the exercises you should avoid.

leg-extension

What to do instead: 

Perform compound leg exercises like squats. Leg squats not only work your entire lower body but also force you to engage your core. They are also an excellent means to burn fat as you are utilizing a large muscle group!

NEVER SKIP LEG DAY 

 

 

The Smith Machine

The Smith Machine was something I had used for the longest time, mainly because I thought it would help me maintain the correct form while doing a squat. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Though designed and marketed as a machine that limits injuries, the Smith Machine does quite the opposite. Since the barbell glides on fixed bars, it limits your natural body movement and thus puts added stress on knee joints and your lower back. Your body should not move straight up and down as it does on the Smith Machine but instead should have some forward tilt.

smith machine

What to do instead:

Perform traditional barbell squats on a rack or use dumbells to squat. Squatting will give you the full lower body workout explained above.

 

 

 

Lat Pulldown behind the neck

Pulling the lat pulldown bar down behind your neck will not build extra muscle but instead can cause a rotator cuff injury. By doing the exercise in this manner, you are causing your shoulders to move backward in a motion they were not designed for.

lat pulldown

Notice how her neck is pushed forward and shoulders are back? This position is unnatural!

What to do instead:

There is no variation needed for the lat pull down. It is meant to be done in front of your body, so keep it that way. Bring the bar down in front of your face to about your collarbone area while squeezing your shoulder blades in to meet each other. This is an important part of the exercise and helps give it that little bit extra.

 

 

Upright rows

Performing an upright row forces your shoulders to rotate inwards and cause what’s known as a shoulder impingement (when your shoulder blade rubs against your rotator cuff).  The stress from this exercise is terrible for your rotator cuff and can lead to injury.

upright row

What to do instead:

Substitute exercises like lateral raises or farmers walk in place of upright rows.

 

 

Tricep Dips

The main problem with the tricep dip is that it doesn’t target your triceps as much as it does your deltoid muscles. Often people dip too low in their range of motion and put undue stress on the shoulders, which is not the intended muscle to be working out with this exercise. This continual stress on the joints in the shoulder can cause injury.

Tricep-Dips

What to do instead:

Tricep cable extensions or tricep pushdowns with a triangle-shaped bar or straight bar is the better alternative. If you were contemplating dips for chest exercises, stick to a bench press, or use a pec deck machine.

 

 

 

Crunches and ab-machines

Let’s face it the picture of a fit person are six-pack abs. We all want a washboard stomach, but be careful how you go about getting it. Ab-machines are typically used by people looking to target just their stomach and burn fat and build muscle. Unfortunately, you can’t spot burn, and you can have the best abs in the world, but if they are covered by a layer of fat, who cares. These machines also aren’t the best for posture and many times lead to pulling motions that can harm your back and other muscles.

Crunches are not the best for ab exercising either. The position you place your back in while doing crunches (rounded back bending at the waist) is not healthy for the discs in your lower back.

crunches

What to do instead:

Instead of crunches alternate sets of Russian Twists and Planks to give your midsection the workout it needs

 

 

 

Back Extensions

The back extension is intended to strengthen your lower back by flexing it on the way down and extending it on the way up. This can cause problems, especially for those who already experience back pain. You will often see people hold a weight plate behind their head or sometimes against their chest, which puts even more stress on your spine.

 

 

Back Extension

 

What to do instead:

If you’d like to do your lower back a favor, then try using Good Mornings instead of back extensions.

FOR MORE READ FLEXIBILITY AND STRETCHING AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT AS YOU AGE

The last exercise you should avoid is any exercise that is giving you any pain. If you feel any pain while working out STOP! The pain is your body telling you No Bueno! Listen to your body at all times. What exercises do you avoid when working out? Comment below. And don’t say I avoid working out in general, that’s not what I mean!   🙂

 

 

 

 

24 Comments

  1. Luna S

    I’ve done the tricep dips and the crunches, I’ve heard that crunches aren’t the best thing to do but didn’t know about the dips. Thanks for sharing alternative workouts to do instead!

    Reply
    • Scott DeNicola

      Mixing it up always helps!

      Reply
    • Daphne takahashi

      Wow! I never imagined how much damage I was doing to my body and I’ve done quite adequately of those exercises!! Thanks for the advice!

      Reply
  2. Kelly martin

    I’m so glad I read this article. I thought I was doing the right thing when exercising but it’s good to know that some of these exercises aren’t good for the body. I’ve already switched to planks instead of crunches and I’ll try some of your other suggestions.

    Reply
    • Scott DeNicola

      Thanks Kelly. Always ere on the side of caution.

      Reply
  3. Sarah Emery

    What a fantastic read providing solid information of WHY certain exercises and machines should be avoided and what can be done INSTEAD. Great piece!

    Reply
    • Scott DeNicola

      Thanks Sarah!

      Reply
  4. Kim

    Great post Scott. Thanks so much for sharing these important tips.

    Reply
    • Scott DeNicola

      Aww thanks Kim! I appreciate the comment.

      Reply
  5. The Sunny side lifestyle co

    I need to get to the gym! The triceps dip has always been an exercise that did not sit well with me and now I know why! Upright row is another I didn’t realize could be causing damage. Another note is to always mix up routines. Too much of the same exercise can also cause damage.

    Reply
    • Scott DeNicola

      Absolutely mix things up. Besides extreme boredom, your muscles begin to get used to what you are doing and adapt. You need to shock your body every now and then.

      Reply
  6. Live Learn Better

    This is so educative and helpful! You have no idea what this piece of information means to a lot of people including me.
    Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  7. Subhashish Roy

    I remember when I first started visiting the gym I started doing exercises and weights without consulting the trainer till he spotted and approached me himself. Thanks for sharing Scott this very important piece of information.

    Reply
  8. Joanna K.

    Perfect timing. I have just joined the local gym, ready to try out new equipment. I now realise I may have to reconsider the initial plan, to avoid injuries. And opt for workouts with nothing but my body.

    Reply
    • Scott DeNicola

      Not all machines are bad. Just some. Always ask for help or utilize a personal trainer for an initial session.

      Reply
  9. Mariana

    Great post! I have never been a big fan of these kind of exercise machines and now I have more reasons to dislike them. I used to use the leg extension machine, but now I know I should stay away from them.
    I will do the alternative exercises you suggested. And I agree that Russian twists and planks are a great alternative for crunches.

    Thank you for the recommendations! And for encouraging stretching! Some people don’t know how important it is and I think reading this will help a lot of people to be aware of its importance thanks to your post.

    Reply
  10. Kristin

    SO many great tips on how to workout properly! You know, I am always afraid to ask if I am doing it corret. This really gave me some insight on where I can correct myself. So thank you for sharing!

    Reply
    • Scott DeNicola

      Better safe than sorry!

      Reply
  11. Erica (The Prepping Wife)

    Don’t laugh at me (or do, because I do too) but I’m legit too short to use the leg extension machine correctly. My form is terrible simply because I can’t reach, even with the seat as far forward as it will go. I need an extra notch or two to put me in the right place to use it effectively. The Smith Machine, I’ve always loved. I use it to bench press, deadlifts, squats, shrugs, everything. That’s one I’ve always appreciated because it takes away the need for a spotter.

    Reply
    • Scott DeNicola

      That was the reason I always used the Smith Machine as well. No spotter necessary.

      Reply
  12. Lyosha

    I actually did and still do all of those exercises. I read your point here and I think it highly depends on your body and training level.

    Reply
  13. Sushmita

    I mostly do abs and back extension. But probably now I won’t. I love to some planks and Russian twists so that should not be a problem for me 😀

    Reply
  14. Kayleigh

    It’s funny, most of your alternative exercises I naturally do anyways. I work out from home so mostly just use dumb bells and my body for exercises. And post-partum due to tearing in my abdomen, I have avoided crunches and do alternate ab exercises. Of course being preggo again now, I just don’t do any of it, ha! I’ve been walking and swimming mostly. I’m not supposed to do an heavy lifting right now.

    Reply
    • Scott DeNicola

      Thanks for the comment Kayleigh and good luck with the pregnancy.

      Reply

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