The truth is many common exercises can cause more harm than good. They can be ineffective- at worst, dangerous. The following are 5 exercises to avoid and never do. You probably see many of your fellow gym-goers, or even yourself, doing these same workouts. Here what’s you need to know:
UPRIGHT BARBELL ROW
Although the upright barbell row can effectively target the shoulders and traps, the exercise also can cause aggravating shoulder impingement syndrome (SIS). This happens when the tendon of the supraspinatus (a rotator cuff muscle) gets inflamed as a result of being repeatedly pressed against the bony acromion right above it. Since your arms are in an internal rotation position when performing this exercise, you are putting unnecessary wear and tear on your shoulder tendon as you lift your arms up with resistance when doing this movement.
Try this instead: Work your shoulders with front and lateral shoulder raises. You’ll hit the same muscles with much less risk.
BEHIND THE NECK LAT-PULLDOWN/SHOULDER PRESS
The behind the neck lat-pulldown can work your back muscles, but you are also increasing your chance for a serious shoulder injury. To do this exercise, you need to externally rotate your shoulders as much as possible, which puts your shoulders at a delicate position. Most people’s shoulders aren’t flexible enough to keep their spine straight while performing this exercise, and the odds of hurting your shoulder or tearing your rotator cuff are high. You can also compress nerves in your upper spine and increase your risk for upper back and neck pain. Doing a behind the neck shoulder press can also cause the same injury problems as a lat-pulldown so you should also avoid that exercise as well.
Try this instead: For lat-pulldowns, just pull the bar in front of your head, down to your collarbone. You’ll target your back just as effectively with minimal injury risk. When it comes to that shoulder press, don’t press behind the shoulder but always press in front.
SHRUGS WITH SHOULDER ROLL
You should not do shrugs when rolling your shoulders forwards or backwards at the top of every rep. You see, due to gravity, the barbell or dumbbells you’re holding during shrugs are providing downward resistance in the vertical plane. As a result, the only way to get proper stimulation with the weight is by moving it up against the downward resistance being provided. When you roll your shoulders forwards or backwards, you leave the vertical plane (where the resistance is) and end up in the horizontal plane (where there is absolutely no resistance at all) so you’re really not getting any real workout. You’re basically just stretching the muscle instead of weightlifting. Besides accomplishing basically nothing for your muscles, rolling your shoulders can put unnecessary strain on your back and rotator cuff.
Try this instead: Shrug the weight up and down to properly target the shoulders and traps.
Sit-Ups and crunches emphasize bad posture. These exercises involve spinal flexion and too much flexion of the spine can lead to disc problems over time. In addition, these exercises put minimal stimulation on your core muscles since these movements really only engage your front abdominal muscles (rectus abdominus), which are buried under belly fat and really aren’t core muscles at all.
You are not using your obliques or the transverse abdominus, the innermost abdominal muscle that is largely responsible for stabilizing the spine. Sit-Ups and crunches only work the abdominal muscle isometrically, which means they don’t actually contract or move, they just work to hold the torso steady while the hip flexors do the pulling. That’s ineffective for any real muscle stimulation in the core.
Try this instead: Consider abdominal exercises that emphasize core strength and stabilization like hanging leg raises or plank variations. Remember, getting stronger and more defined core muscles is about working all the muscles in your core, adding resistance to the movements, and proper dieting and cardio.
While this exercise can give you a quad burn like no other, it can also give you knee problems. Research has determined that leg extensions place significantly more stress on your knees than squats. This is because the resistance is placed near your ankles, which leads to high amounts of torque being applied to your knee joint every time you lower the weight.
Try this instead: Do front squats to put more emphasis on your quad muscles while working so many more muscles at once. Most importantly, you are putting much less stress on the back and knees.