10 Gym Exercises to Avoid
Workout image by Nikolay Okhitin from Fotolia.com
Look around the gym the next time you are there and you will see dozens of exercises being performed by other gym-goers. The majority of people at the gym have never had formal training in exercise and are probably doing exercises based on what they see others doing—incorrectly. Just because an exercise exists does not mean it is safe. There are at least 10 exercises you should avoid in the gym, or anywhere else.
Behind-the-Neck Lat Pulldown
The behind-the-neck lat pulldown externally rotates the shoulders and puts them in a compromised position. This move can strain your shoulders and injure your neck. Perform this exercise to the front only.
Behind-the-Neck Shoulder Press
The behind-the-neck shoulder press also compromises the shoulders in the same way as the lat pulldown. When lifting light weight you may not notice, but as you get stronger and lift heavier weights you increase your risk of injury.
You may perform a number of variations of the sit-up when you want to work your abs, but sit-ups actually work your hip flexors more than anything and can injure your back. Next time you want to work your abdominal muscles, do a crunch instead, which focuses on the abs and does not strain your back the way sit-ups can.
Leg raises are an absolute no-no. Lying on your back and raising both legs off the ground puts a high level of strain on your spine. You can do this exercise with one leg at a time, or do crunches if you are trying to strengthen your abs.
The upright row can cause injury to your wrists and shoulders. Many people have limited shoulder range of motion and cannot perform this move the way it should be done, and that can result in injury. Shoulder injuries are very difficult to recover from.
There are usually multiple types of ab machines at the gym and figuring out how to use them correctly can be confusing. Ab machines will not get you a smaller waist, as many people hope. You will either be wasting your time, or performing the move incorrectly, which could cause injury.
Straight Leg Deadlifts
Deadlifts are a great exercise for the hamstrings and glutes but this move is often performed incorrectly. The straight leg deadlift will put too much stress on your spine if you are lifting wrong. Avoid this exercise unless you have received instruction from a trained professional and are 100 percent sure you are doing it correctly.
Double Leg Hyperextensions
Lying on your stomach and raising both legs off the ground puts excessive strain on the back. A better alternative to this exercise is to lift one leg at a time; you can even lift your opposite arm at the same time.
Squatting beyond a 90-degree bend is considered a deep squat. Squatting too low puts unnecessary strain on your knees, especially when coupled with improper form.
Good Mornings are an old-school exercise you probably do not see that often anymore. There is a good reason for this. It involves holding a barbell behind the head and bending forward from the waist. Good Mornings put all the weight on the spine and you risk serious injury to your spine and neck. There are plenty of other back exercises to choose from which are safe.
Meaghan Massenat works as an instructor for Branford Hall Career Institute's Professional Fitness Trainer program. With a Master of Science in exercise physiology from Florida Atlantic University, she is also certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association as a strength-and-conditioning specialist. Massenat has been writing about health and fitness since 2007, with articles appearing in "Flavor Magazine" and various online publications.