Exercises You Should NEVER Do!

Published by Jason Narog on

Exercises you shouldn't do

I thought this one would be a fun one to do. What exercises should you NEVER do? And who says you should never do them?

15 Common Exercises You Should Never Do – Bob & Brad

  1. Standing touch your toes hamstring stretch – You probably did this one in PE class in school. Stand up, bend over and try to touch your toes (or the ground) with your hands. Bob & Brad state this is bad for your back, as is the sitting with your legs stretched out trying to touch your toes variation.
  2. Pulling on the back of your head with your arms with a tucked chin – Apparently this is a stretch, but it also applies to how people started to do sit ups, cranking on their necks.
  3. Full Sit up – fully extended legs, sitting up. It puts stress on the low back
  4. V Sit Ups – especially bad with rotation. Deadly on the back.
  5. Wide Arm Push Ups – this is bad for your shoulders. This is where you have your arms out at a T and try to do push ups. I do preach the corkscrewing the shoulders and keeping the arms in closer.
  6. Tricep Dips – Good for triceps, bad for shoulders.
  7. Barbell Military Press – both in front and behind the head. More shoulder issues
  8. Weighted Knee Extensions – referring to the machine, lots of stress on the knee cap.
  9. Upright Rows – it’s an internal rotation exercise, which creates impingement
  10. Walking / Running on the drainage side of the road – make sure you stay on the same side of the road both down and back to keep things even
  11. Bent Over Rows – this one is dangerous with the potential bad postures of straight leg and rounded back.
  12. Weighted Side Bends – this can be dangerous for disc problems
  13. Windmills – low back issues
  14. Deep squats – this one varies based on the hip socket person to person. The issue is with low back rounding once you pass the 90 degree point
  15. Standing Lateral Benching – the movement looks like punching TBH with weights moving both arms out at the same time. You can do it with bands, just not weights

Alternatives to the 15 Exercises You Should Never Do

Here’s what Bob & Brad suggest doing instead of the above list.

  1. Standing Hip Stretch Alternative – Lay on your back, cross your feet over and pull towards your chest or grab your leg near your knee and either straight or bent leg gently pull towards you
  2. Pulling on the back of your neck alternative – Do chin tucks
  3. V Sit Ups alternative – Double sit up. On your back, bring your knees towards your body while also performing a sit up (with your hands in front of you or on the front of your head so you’re not pulling the back of your neck!)
  4. Tricep Dip alternative – Tricep push downs with bands
  5. Full sit up alternative – do partial sit ups or essentially anything that doesn’t involve rounding the low back in the process
  6. Road tilt walking or running – just keep things even. If the road is slanted run up and down the same side of the road or keep it flat
  7. Military press alternative – they suggest using an angled bench to change the angle of the forward press. A landmine press setup would accomplish the same angle.
  8. Upright Rows alternative – Shoulder shrugs
  9. Bent Over Rows alternative – Band standing rows. I do these with TRX straps for rows
  10. Deep Squats – “Posture” squats, which is your arms overhead squat and is actually a testing mechanic in the NASM personal trainer manual for testing for any sort of muscle imbalances. The other alternative is to squat to parallel (90 degree knee angle.)
  11. Machine Leg Extensions alternative – Lunge
  12. Windmills alternative – The windshield wiper ab routine. On your back, bend your knees and place your ankles together and rotate from side to side.
  13. Side Bends alternative – side plank
  14. Wide Base Push Ups alternative – Standing chest flies with a band or regular push ups
  15. Weighted Horizontal Bench alternative – Band press from standing

8 Bodyweight Exercises To Stop Doing Immediately

Jeff C. from AthleanX is famous at this point for telling you to stop doing things and substitute with something better. He’s switched up the plank (which the military is now doing instead of the sit up) with a reverse plank even as he looks at what muscles people think they’re working and then shows better alternatives to actually work said muscles better, faster, stronger. So let’s see what he hates in this video.

  1. Tricep Bench Dip – Jeff points out that a simple change in hand position to save your shoulders. Instead of having the the fingers facing you (which places your shoulders into an internally rotated position creating impingement) rotate your hands so your fingers are pointing away from the body which then places your shoulders into a safer position.
    1. Exercise Alternative – Cobra Push Up. Works the exact same muscle group without the potential stress to the shoulder
  2. Passive Plank. I argue in favor of the hard style plank if you’re going to plank, which creates actual tension in your body and prevents you from holding this position for more than 10 seconds. The TRX crowd calls it “active planking.”
  3. Hamstring Stretch – Bob & Brad had this listed as number 1. The science behind why this is bad relates to pelvic tilt. The position of the exercise puts you into a posterior pelvic tilt as opposed to an anterior pelvic tilt, which transfers the stretch away from it’s designated target (the hamstrings) and instead puts stress on the low / mid back. The modification (if seated) is to keep your arms straight out as opposed to folding forward, which should prevent the pelvis from tilting.
    1. Alternative – Standing Wall Hamstring Stretch – Straight legs, one on the wall with the toes up on the wall and arms fully extended on the wall.
  4. Neck Bridge – It’s bad for the spine
    1. You can use a towel going either forward or backwards (hands on towel) to create resistance. Use isometric holds.
  5.  Kipping Pullups – just do a pull up.
  6. Scorpion stretch – it’s moving the spine where the spine shouldn’t be moving
    1. T Bar Rotations – Lay flat on your face with your arms fully extended holding  a bar or Fit Pole and twist from your upper body, as opposed from your lower body (the scorpion is a twist from the legs.)
  7. Sissy Squat – dangerous for pretty much hip to knee
    1. Alternative – Pistol squat (you can do pistol squats on your couch)
  8. Not true Push Ups – Pelvis first into the ground, partial reps, or whatever weird adjustments people make to fake push ups.
    1. Alternative – Do a true full push up. Corkscrew the arms, drop fully to the ground and push back up. Work your way back up doing true push ups.

11 More Exercises You Should Stop Doing

More from Jeff.

  1. Unsupported bench dumbbell fly – arms off the bench with weights in your arms. The funny thing while I’m looking at this one is this is actually a stretch suggested to fix rounded shoulders. If you want to open up the chest you’d lay on a foam roller with your arms out to your sides. The dumbbell chest fly is designed to target those chest muscles that in this position you’re technically stretching to loosen up (as opposed to tighten via strength training.) If you want to keep doing the movement do it on the floor.
    1. Alternative – Standing or Seated cable or resistance band crossover fly.
  2. Side Bends – That’s 2 videos that hate this one now
    1. Alternative – Hanging Oblique Twists. Hang from a bar, extend your legs out and twist your legs.
  3. Concentration Curls – this is the seated version. If you want to keep doing this, stand up.
  4. Cuban Press – bad because of the internal rotation at the shoulder.
    1. Alternative – Urlachers. Bicep curl to pull back
  5.  Upright Row – bad because of the impingement. This exercise is typically performed with elbow above wrist. Switch to wrist above elbow, which goes from internal rotation to external rotation at the shoulder.
    1. Alternative – Dumbbell high pull
  6. Kipping Pull Up. Just do a pull up. Being that we’re in June of 2020 and people are literally renouncing their Crossfit certifications now I’m pretty sure this will die.
  7. Rack Pull – bad again for the shoulders. Change the position of where the bar is from above the knee to below the knee to make it more of a deadlift movement if you would like to continue doing this.
  8. Leg Extensions on a machine – bad for knees.
    1. TKE Drop Lunges – Resistance band around the front knee that is doing the lunge while also holding weights in hands
  9. Behind the neck shoulder press – shoulder impingement exercise. Jeff is OK with doing shoulder presses in front of the body. If you bring your grip in closer, you’ll get more help from the rest of your shoulder / arm combo.
  10. Weird internal rotation twists on a cable machine
  11. Terrible kettlebell cleans that stress your wrist. Learn to clean a kettlebell.

The Top 5 Most Dangerous Exercises You Should Stop Doing (and what you should so instead)

The video is designed in a bad vs good style so I’ll just go through stating what they say not to do and what they say to do instead. I’ll be honest, this one seems like it was created by a marketing department (and they suggest passive planks, which loses some credibility in my book) but hey, a list is a list.

  1. Sit Ups – Leg Raises
  2. Crunches – Plank
  3. Tuck Jumps – Traditional Jumps
  4. Side bends – side plank
  5. Back hyperextensions – Back raises

10 Exercises All Men Should Avoid

  1. Any and all ab machines – If a machine controls your range of motion then it’s probably bad for you. The functional trainer cable machine does not control your range of motion (just as a TRX Rip Trainer is nothing more than a cable with a handle) so the locked in motion doesn’t force you into unnatural movement patterns. Avoid anything that puts you on a track, you aren’t the same height as everyone else and your limbs probably aren’t the same length (watch any fight where 2 guys who are the same height and weight have a different “reach” or different length arm.) The obvious alternative is anything that’s not in a machine.
  2. Behind the head shoulder press – go in front of your head as Jeff suggested.
  3. Smith Machine – same rant as with the ab machines. Just do squats.
  4. Hip Ab/Adduction Machine – (this video should just be called don’t use machines…) Just strap a resistance band to your ankle
  5. Seated Torso Twist Machine – this machine mimmicks a similar movement to that of the Scorpion stretch Jeff suggested not doing. That part of the spine shouldn’t be twisting. Do side planks and wood choppers instead
  6. Upright Row – go hands before elbows instead of elbows before hands (as Jeff suggested) or do lateral raises or incline front raises on a bench, snatches, or clean and presses.
  7. Lat Pulldown behind head – Same reasons for behind the head shoulder press (forward head / shoulder issues.) Just go in front
  8. Leg Press Machine – just get out of the machine and do any leg exercise
  9. Leg Extensions in a machine
  10. Back Hyperextension machine – don’t extend past neutral

10 (more?) Exercises We Should Never Do!

Let’s see if these are new or if we’re just repeating what others already said…

  1. Weighted Tricep Dips
  2. Behind the neck shoulder press
  3. Behind the neck lat pulldown
  4. Smith Machine squats
  5. Upright Rows
  6. Box jumps
  7. Kipping Pull Ups
  8. Weighted Oblique Twist (Seated Twist Machine)
  9. Stability Ball Bench Press
  10. Any ab exercise that involves pulling on the back of your neck

We got 2 new ones here.

The argument against using the box jump is the risk of missing the box, crashing into the box, coming off the box wrong (and tearing the Achilles  tendon, etc.) This is more of a risk / reward thing. I remember when I had a trainer program box jumps for me and I was deathly afraid of crashing into that damn thing and messing up my shins. I never did, but the fear was real. The softer boxes have the potential to tip over which (if you fall wrong) is going to break your wrist / arm. The suggested alternative here is to just jump. Not onto something, but just spring up into the air.

The argument against the stability ball was that the thing could break on you while you’re holding serious weight. I’ve never thought about that one, but yeah, that can happen. You’re holding weight up, the thing you’re on breaks, and bam, you’re falling to the ground while holding heavy weights over your head. The weights crack you in the face and you’re off to the doctor’s office to get stitches (or worse.)

What do you think? Should anything else be on this list? I’ll probably go find me some more videos to add later to expand upon this list but for now we’ve got a fairly good list of things (and machines) to avoid. Happy Gym going!

Would you like to join a community that keeps you accountable on your fitness journey? Sign up for my 14 day challenge and get access to my Facebook community!

    Privacy Preference Center