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"The 10 Exercises you should "almost" never do" (Blog #14)

June 17, 2014

Training for close to a decade now I've seen and done almost everything good, bad and ugly in the gym.  This list I made up of 10 "high risk" exercises and their safer options will hopefully help you guys train properly while more importantly, not getting injured while training.  Once you learn basic anatomy and how the body is supposed to move some exercises stick out immediately and are put into a high risk category, it doesn't mean you should NEVER do them It just simply means that you are increasing the risk of you being hurt if you choose to do them.  Every week when I design my programs the first thing I think about is "Risk Vs Reward," is this program too risky for the benefit my clients will get out of it?!  The worst possible thing a strength coach or trainer can do is injure their client so leaning on the side of caution is highly advised.  The "risk vs reward" way of thinking will be relative to each client/athlete you train, it is up to you to decide what is risky to who.  If I have a 70 year old client with an arthritic hip doing box jumps (I would be an idiot) but this would be extremely high risk and not worth the reward he/she may or may not get out of it.  However, if I do those same box jumps with my Pro MMA fighter the risk he's taking may be worth the reward he will get out of them.  Its all relative...


Reminder, this is my personal list made up in my head from years of personal and professional experience.  Everyones flexibility, mobility and body is different so the risk factor in some of these exercises is different for each person.  I have tough skin so If you disagree I love a good debate!  Enjoy...


#1:  In this VIDEO Andrea is showing you Bench Dips and Skull Crushers.  Bench dips put your shoulder in a dangerous position.  The shoulder goes into maximum extension followed by a load (your bodyweight), this can create shoulder impingement and overtime can cause rotator cuff problems.  The alternative if you're looking to crush your Triceps is the DB Skull Crusher.  This is a much healthier and effective way to train your Triceps because the shoulder is now in a flexed position which will allow all three heads of the (TRI)cep to be worked more effectively.  


#2:  In this VIDEO Andrea is showing you Upright Rows and Scaption Raises.  Upright rows put your shoulder in an internally rotated position and than you abduct the shoulder, this movement is high risk because it closes the sub-acromial space which will cause impingement and potentially leave you with a bum wing.  A safer option for the deltoids would be a Scaption Raise.  Retracting your shoulder blades and making a "Y" these take a lot of stress off of your shoulder capsule while still allowing you to crush your delts.  


#3:  In this VIDEO Andrea is showing you Sit Ups and Physioball Roll Outs.  Sit ups do not burn belly fat away, over time they can actually break down the strength of the disks in your spine and cause herniations.  Rectus Abdominus's job is not flexion it's actually to prevent extension.  This is why doing anti-extension core exercises like PB Roll Outs is a much safer and more effective option if you're are looking for a strong core.  


#4:  In this VIDEO Andrea is showing you Rounded Back Dead Lifts and Proper Hinge Dead Lifts.  Rounding or flexing your lumbar spine while picking things up off the floor can be deadly to a spine (although there is a time and place for that).  A safer option is learning to hinge/flex at the hips while keeping a lordotic or neutral spine during the dead lift.  This will instantly decrease the pressure on the disks and create a much safer option.  Research has been showing us that if you move the spine while under load it can be detrimental but if you lock the spine into an immobile position and move/lift it isn't nearly as dangerous, even if you're in a flexed spine position.  Basically that means if you have a load on your spine, don't allow the spine to move at all.  A good example is watching the worlds strongest men picking up atlas stones, these guys bend over and pick up 300 & 400 pound stones with a flexed spine but their spines are locked into flexion, they're not moving the disks when under tension so this creates a safe environment for the spine.  


#5:  In this VIDEO  Andrea is showing you Behind the neck Military Press and  Infront of the head Military Press.  The behind the neck barbell military press can put your shoulder in excessive external rotation and when you press you add abduction, this can be deadly to a shoulder if you lack proper mobility.  The barbell in front of your head is a much safer option for the shoulder.  The risk vs reward here isn't worth the potential increase in medial deltoid work you may or may not get.  To take this a step further, I would highly recommend pressing Dumbbells over hear more often than Barbells because the DB's allow your shoulders more freedom to move how they need to.  The barbell can lock you into place and take away some of that freedom...


#6:  In this VIDEO Andrea is showing you Russian Twists and Side Planks.  Russian Twists can be dangerous because of the rotational forces you put on your disks in the lower lumbar spine.  Disks don't like repetitive rotations.  Although if you do Russian Twists and lock the lumbar spine while rotating your thoracic spine more and do more of a fast shimmy back and forth it will decrease the risk of injury.  Side Planks are a much more effective and safer option for core strength.  Yes, its basic, but most people with back pain cant perform this simple movement.  Remember, a strong core is a stable one.  


#7:  In this VIDEO Andrea is showing you Cable Fly's and Push Ups.  I can already hear my friends now yelling at this video but flys are dangerous to most.  The reason they're so risky is because you have a long moment arm (the distance between the joint and the resistance) which puts you in a bad position if your want to be strong of powerful.  A long moment arm with too much weight, momentum and jerking can really tear them shoulders up.  Plus you cant use much intensity on this exercise and it's a single joint movement so if mass is your goal Flys are a bad choice.  Push Ups however are the money maker.  Push Ups are really a dynamic plank, they're great for the delts, pecs, triceps and core.  Push Ups are a big bang for your buck exercise assuming you're not hyperextending the spine, chin poking or not using full range of motion.  


#8:  In this VIDEO Andrea is showing us Rebound Box Jumps and Box Jumps while stepping down and back.  I hear more yelling at the computer screen from my crossfit buddies so let me clarify this:  If you're in a competition and/or you are 165 pounds and 7% body fat rebound box jumps probably aren't as risky for you as they would be to a 5'5 215 pound female that started training a month ago.  ITS ALL RELATIVE!  Regardless, I think jumping backwards off of a box can be horrific to the Achilles tendon, I've actually seen a couple complete tears from people doing these rebound box jumps.  A safer and more effective option is just simply jumping up, landing soft and stepping down.  Reward is there, risk is low!  On a side note, high rep box jumps scare the crap out of me.  They're designed to fire up the CNS (central nervous system) and improve power output they should not be used for metabolic training.  Go watch or try high rep box jumps and I think most of you will agree that it becomes very ugly and unsafe quickly...


#9:  In this VIDEO Andrea is showing you Leg Extensions and Goblet Squats.  Leg extensions can cause a ton of unwanted sheer force on the knees and they're a single joint movement.  If you're looking for mass and hypertrophy they could be a good option but risky.  A better option would be a Goblet (or any type) of Squat.  Now in the squat you can have more intensity (weight), you will use your glutes, abductors, adductors and core.  Depending on your goals either could be "functional" to you...


#10:  In this VIDEO Andrea is showing you Leg Curls on a machine and Slider Leg Curls.  The machine leg curl is bad for many reasons but the biggest culprits are that you're not using your glutes and you're actually sitting on the muscle that you're trying to work.  The hamstrings true function are to decelerate knee extension and to extend the hips, knee flexion is one of their weakest functions.  This will promote the hamstring to fire and get "strong" without the glutes and this will create synergistic dominance which means the synergist AKA the helper muscle (the hamstrings) will try and do more work than the agonist (the Glutes) in your movements - This is a recipe for a knee injury!  The true function of the hamstring as we spoke about above is knee extension deceleration.  Watch how Andrea is forced to slow down the knee extension and use her glutes now while crushing her hamstrings.  A must do exercise!



I hope you all enjoyed the list and please feel free to share, debate and discuss...










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