Top 5 Worst Exercises You Should Stop Doing (OPINION)

According to a fitness coach.

These are the top 5 worst exercises you should stop doing right now!

When it comes to exercise options, the possibilities are vast. However, it’s crucial to avoid certain exercises that are considered the worst of the worst. Whether your goal is to achieve a ripped physique, become lean and muscular, or simply shed some weight, engaging in strength training can work wonders for you. While any form of exercise is better than none, there are specific exercises you should steer clear of to minimize risks.

According to Jeff Cavaliere, former head physical therapist of the New York Mets and a popular figure on YouTube with his ATHLEAN-X channel, assessing the risk-to-benefit ratio of an exercise is vital. Some exercises may target specific muscle groups effectively but also carry a higher risk of injury. It’s important to note that this list is not a universal prescription, as exercises suitable for bodybuilders may pose challenges for professional CrossFit athletes. Cavaliere shares his arguments for why these five exercises should be avoided.

lat pulldown exercise

Top 5 Worst Exercises You Should Stop Doing

1. Flys

Despite being a favourite of Arnold Schwarzenegger, traditional flys on the bench can lead to overstretching of the muscles without providing optimal chest activation. One wrong repetition or overload could result in a torn pectoral muscle. To achieve better pec adduction, opt for cable crossovers instead.

2. Behind-The-Neck Shoulder Press

While overhead presses are beneficial for shoulder development, performing them with the barbell passing behind your neck increases the risk of injuries. This movement places the shoulders in an abnormal plane of motion, potentially causing problems. Engage in any pressing movement but avoid the backward hinging of the shoulders to prevent unnecessary harm.

3. Upright Rows

Minor adjustments can transform upright rows into an excellent exercise for shoulder development. However, the position of the arms during this exercise is precisely how physical therapists test for shoulder impingement. Without pre-existing shoulder issues, engaging in upright rows can lead to shoulder impingement. Make slight modifications to experience the benefits without the associated risks.

4. Good Mornings

Good mornings, when performed correctly, are not inherently bad. However, many individuals lack the necessary thoracic extension required for proper execution. Without meeting the requirements, you may experience pressure on your lumbar spine, resulting in discomfort and potential complications. Consider alternative exercises such as dumbbell dead rows if good mornings are challenging for you.

5. Leg Extensions

Not only are there superior exercises for strengthening the quadriceps, but leg extensions also come with their own set of issues. The exercise places a shearing force on the knees, constantly tensions the ACL ligament, and causes an imbalance in activation between the vastus medialis obliquus (VMO) and rectus femoris muscles. These factors can lead to problems with the patellar tendon and knee. Pretty much any squat will be better for your knees. Try these squat variations.

In conclusion, being mindful of the exercises you choose can significantly impact your fitness journey. While these exercises may not be universally harmful, understanding their potential risks can help you make informed decisions that align with your goals while reducing the likelihood of injury.

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See the video below for full details and explanation on each of these top 5 worst exercises from Jeff Cavaliere.

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How Many Sets Maximise Muscle Growth?

The golden rule of how many sets you should be doing is clear according to fitness coaches. It should be enough to trigger muscle growth, but not too much that would cause so much damage to your muscles that you cannot recover for the next training session.

So, how many sets maximise muscle growth? It also depends on your level of fitness and how often you go to the gym. Per muscle per session, here is what Israetel came up with.

  • Beginners – 1-5 sets per session
  • Intermediate – 2-10 sets per session
  • Advanced – 3-10 sets per session

Start with the lowest number that gets you the “pumped” feeling and add 1 or 2 sets per week as your muscles get used to the work.

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How Heavy Should You Lift When Training for Muscle Growth?

When training for muscle growth (hypertrophy), the weight you lift, often referred to as the training load or intensity, is an important factor to consider. Here are some guidelines to help determine how heavy you should lift:

Use a weight that challenges you: To promote muscle growth, it’s important to use a weight that challenges your muscles. This means selecting a weight that allows you to complete the desired number of repetitions within the hypertrophy rep range (generally 8 to 12 reps) with proper form, while also feeling challenging towards the end of each set.

Choose a weight that elicits fatigue: The weight you select should cause fatigue in the target muscles by the end of each set. You should feel a sense of muscular burn or fatigue during the final few reps, indicating that the weight is appropriately challenging.

Progressive overload: To continue building muscle, it’s crucial to gradually increase the demands on your muscles over time. This can be achieved through progressive overload, which involves gradually increasing the weight you lift as your muscles adapt and grow stronger. Aim to progressively increase the weight as you become more comfortable with a certain weight range to continue stimulating muscle growth.

Form and technique: While it’s important to challenge yourself with heavier weights, it’s equally important to prioritize proper form and technique. Lifting weights that are too heavy and compromise your form can increase the risk of injury and reduce the effectiveness of the exercise. Focus on maintaining good form throughout each repetition, even when using challenging weights.

biggest bench press mistakesSource: Photo courtesy of CrossFit Inc.

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Individual capabilities: The appropriate weight will vary depending on your individual capabilities, strength level, and experience. What may be heavy for one person might be light for another. It’s important to listen to your body and select weights that are appropriate for your current fitness level.

Variation in training: Incorporating a variety of rep ranges and training modalities can be beneficial for overall muscle development. While the hypertrophy rep range (8-12 reps) is commonly associated with muscle growth, including both higher rep ranges (12-15+) and lower rep ranges (6-8) in your training can provide different stimuli and promote well-rounded muscle development.

Remember, finding the right weight is a process of trial and error. Start with a weight that challenges you within the recommended rep range, and adjust as needed based on your individual capabilities and progression. Consulting with a fitness professional or personal trainer can also provide guidance and help you determine the appropriate weight selection for your specific goals and needs.

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