Top 5 Worst Exercises (Stop Doing These!!)

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Jeff Cavaliere, a Physical Therapist and Professional Athlete Trainer, enumerates 5 exercises that we all need to stop doing in the weights room. These exercises have injured so many individuals who continue to do them. The exercises listed below scored the lowest for their risk-to-benefit ratio for all athletes and exercise enthusiasts alike.

1. Chest Flys

The chest fly is an exercise where you lie on an exercise bench while raising your knees up at a 90-degree angle. [1] You start by holding dumbbells straight up in the air with your palms facing together. Next, you slowly lower the weights to your sides. This move will work out your chest, shoulders, and upper arms.

While some people make the argument that doing chest flys increases the stretch of the chest, this is not true because the origin insertion of the chest actually prevents that from happening. This means there is a fixed amount of stretch we get on the chest and doing flys will not increase that.

If you touch your upper chest, you can feel where it inserts on your upper arm. Opening up your arm even further than the fixed maximum stretch will do nothing. It will not add any extra stretch. In addition, if you try to open up your arm to increase the stretch, that could potentially cause one bad rep. This will result in a torn pec. There are always better options such as the 3D cable crossover.

2. Behind-The-Neck Shoulder Presses

The behind-the-neck shoulder press requires you to grasp a barbell or dumbbells with your overhand grip from the rack or clean from the floor. [2] You would then need to position the bar behind your neck. Next, the bar is pressed upward until the arms are extended overhead. The barbell is returned to behind the neck and then the exercise is repeated.

This exercise results in pushing within an abnormal plane of motion. When the ball and socket move inside your joint, the natural plane of motion is in an awkward position for pressing. Moving the ball in your shoulder socket forward causes it to roll inside the socket with a lot of extra room to come all the way up to the top.

If the movement is executed correctly, you’re safe. However, if your arm is way out to the side, you’ll hit the lateral portion of the socket as it goes up. This could lead to impingement. [3] An impingement will result in shoulder pain and could lead to inflammation of the rotator cuff tendons and bursa.

3. Upright Rows

The upright row requires you to grasp a bar or dumbbells at shoulder width or with a slightly narrower overhand grip. [4] You will then need to pull the bar to your neck with your elbows coming up first. Let your wrists flex as the bar rises. Lower down the bar back to starting position and repeat.

This exercise is bad for the shoulders because it compromises the integrity and health of the rotator cuff muscles in your shoulder. This is because the nature of the exercise itself already puts us into an impingement position.

4. Good Mornings

The good morning is an exercise that primarily works your hamstrings. [5] You start with a bar or dumbbells behind your neck. Next, you need to bend at the hips and move forward with a proper hip hinge until you are nearly parallel to the ground. Reverse the motion back up until you return to start position and repeat.

This exercise is already rarely done at the gym. Too many people have gotten hurt by this exercise and for this reason it has largely been abandoned. Done correctly, it may actually be a good exercise; however, too many people lack the thoracic extension that is required to do this exercise properly.

Our thoracic spines are typically in bad shape because we are hunched over a computer or slouched on our couches all day. This results in poor posture and poor extension. Thoracic extension is necessary to prevent neck, shoulder, upper back, lower back, and hip pain or injury. [6] Without a proper thoracic extension, all of the force gets driven down above and below the area that’s affected. This could result in several injuries.

5. Leg Extensions

The leg extension primarily targets the quadriceps leg muscles. [7] The exercise is performed on a Leg Extension Machine. The exercise consists of bending your leg at the knee and extending the legs by pushing the machine upward with your feet.

A shearing force gets placed on our knees and there is also constant tension on our ACL ligament. In addition, there is an imbalance of the activation between our VMO and rectus femoris which could lead to patellar tendon issues almost all the time. There is also no co-contraction from the hamstrings.

There are so many other exercises we can do to workout the same muscle groups. You can easily replace them with other exercises that are more effective and more beneficial on the risk-to-benefit ratio. Low risk and high reward exercises are the way to go.

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