5 exercises that you should NOT be doing

5 exercises that you should NOT be doing

You can walk into any gym in the world and find a lot of people doing stupid things: some guy bending his back while doing deadlifts  another on the bench press for an hour, but spends no time pulling any weight, or even someone bending the knees inward on a squat! (Enough weight, and can you say “Goodbye Ligaments!”) This kind of behavior represents the lack of knowledge that circulates in any gym, where a lot of amateurs with no guidance start lifting things off the ground, not knowing that a good portion of what they are doing can lead to injuries both acute and chronic. Here is a list of 5 exercises you should NOT be doing.


  • 1. Behind-the-neck presses

Although this exercise is great for your deltoids, especially the anterior delts, there’s no question that they can wreck havoc on your joints. In order to perform the movement, the shoulders are in the most extreme external and horizontal abduction. That means that you are at the very extreme that your shoulders range of motion can take. Normally, it’s safe to take the shoulder to the end of the range of motion. But when you do rep after rep, set after set, you will be putting yourself at risk for injury. The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the body, but that also means it’s the most unstable. A safer exercise would be to press overhead with the humerus moving in the scapular plane, i.e. press in front of your head.


  • 2. Barbell Upright Rows

There is never any reason to do an upright row. Just like behind-the-neck presses, upright rows work the target muscles really well. The downside is that they can lead to or aggravate shoulder impingement syndrome. Shoulder impingement occurs when the tendon of the supraspinatus (a rotator cuff muscle) gets inflamed because of being repeatedly pressed against the bony acromion right on top of it.In fact, when testing to see if there is shoulder impingement; doctors will do the exact same movement as a barbell upright row! If you think that you still want to do some kind of upright row, use dumbbells so you can widen your grip as you come up. This will be less stressing on your shoulders than a narrow-grip version with a barbell.


  • 3. Bench Dips

Since the shoulders are one of the most active places for pathology of all the joints, it’s no wonder that number three exercise to avoid is still on the shoulders. The bench dip is an exercise, where the arms are by the sides and the palms are facing forward. During the movement, the further down you go, the more vulnerable the shoulders can become, exposing them to the risk of injury. At the bottom of the movement, the shoulders are in a complete internal rotation. This puts the shoulders and elbows into a situation in which they are baring a very undesirable load. This can result in abrasions to the deltoid, rotator cuff muscles, and bursae are potential outcomes. This movement can highly exacerbate shoulder pain. If you want to continue to do this exercise, use parallel bars.


  • 4. Twisting Sit-ups

The main function of your core muscles is to provide stability. When you intentionally promote instability there, you are asking for pain down the line. People that do twisting sit-ups to target their abs fall into this category. The forward-bending movement of the torso during a sit-up creates flexion. The difficulty is that spinal flexion puts a ton of pressure on the intervertebral discs.But when combined with rotation, this movement becomes exacerbated.That is exactly what you are doing when you do a twisting sit-up. Flexion with rotation pushes the nucleus pulposus – the jellylike center – of the disc back and to the side, which is precisely where discs tend to herniate.Unless you want a herniated disc, with the accompanying numbness, tingling, and excruciating pain that goes with it, avoid sit-ups with a twist.


  • 5. Deadlifts with a Rounded Back

Spinal flexion (rounding your lower back) places an amazing amount of stress on the nucleus pulposus of your spinal discs. As well as flexion with rotation, another type of stress that’s more severe than flexion by itself is flexion with compression.This is what happens when you are exerting a load on the front of your spinal disks, while creating flexion. This will herniate you faster than you can say “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Let’s be very clear: when you deadlift, your back must be straight at every part of the movement. I start to cry when I see people in the gym deadlifting with flexion. Keep your back straight and safe.


I can’t stress this enough: when lifting, stay safe. Stick to exercises that don’t put to much stress on those less stable joints, and keep your back straight!

Take Care – Keep Focused!

Chris – Certified Fitness Coach

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