Nobody wants to waste their time doing exercises that don’t work. That said, even good exercises can become bad ones when they are performed incorrectly. However, certain movements deserve the title of the “worst exercise ever” simply because of their low reward, high risk nature. In this video, I’ll show you 11 of the worst exercises for building muscle and what you can do instead.
As a physical therapist and strength coach for professional athletes and celebrities, I have to know where the risks outweigh the rewards. If you know the science of training there are always other ways to get the desired result without jeopardizing the health and safety of your athletes.
So, without further adieu here a few of the 11 worst exercises we cover in the video:
1. CHEST FLIES
I’ve covered these before but I can’t say it enough. People swear they feel an amazing stretch on their pecs by doing this exercise. They also claim that the adduction at the end of the movement gives them an incredible contraction. Both of these are actually exaggerated as the resistance of adduction is absent at the top of the movement and the stretch being felt is actually more on a secondary muscle than it is on the pec. Floor flys and standing crossovers are much better options for reasons explained in the video.
2. BEHIND THE NECK PRESS
The problem with this exercise is that it is just plain bad for your shoulders. It places the glenohumeral joint in an awkward position for pressing, which can lead to impingement. Pressing from the natural scapular plane is much more natural and will allow you to press more weight overhead in the long run, leading to bigger shoulders.
3. UPRIGHT ROWS
I’ve gone on extensively about the problem with this exercise. It is possible one of the worst things you can do due to the position of the elbows and hands at the end of the movement. The exercise puts your shoulders into a provocative position for testing impingement. Instead, you want your elbows below your hands (as in the high pull) to still get the benefits of the abduction of the shoulders without the internal rotation.
4. CONCENTRATION CURLS
You may be wondering how this ended up in the graveyard. Sure the concentration curl isn’t dangerous but it surely isn’t the best tool for job. To understand why, we need to look closer at the movement. Pushing the elbow into the thigh while curling the weight up is only using leverage to get the weight to the top rather than pure muscular force. Normally, leverage is not a bad thing but when you are doing it in close proximity to the muscles that you are trying to work (and with a muscle group that is often overactive during the curl in the first place) you are taking away from the effectiveness of the movement. For a more effective biceps builder you should look to the standard barbell curl. People ask “how did you get such big biceps?’ The answer is right here, by doing effective exercises like the barbell curl and by avoiding things like concentration curls!
5. LEG EXTENSIONS
This is a no brainer for me. This open chain leg exercise lacks any true function when compared to the numerous closed chain options you can be doing instead. Throw in the compressive stresses on the kneecap and lack of hamstring co-contraction, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
These are just a few of the worst exercises covered in this video. Make sure to watch the whole thing to see how things like the popular rack pull above the knee, cuban press and even the tried and true dumbbell side bend earned the title of something you should avoid. As always, I’m putting the science back in strength to show you not just why these should get nixed from your workout but which exercises should take their place.
As you can see there’s a lot of though that goes into tossing an exercise in the iron graveyard. When your health and safety matters the stakes are high especially for people training in and over their 30’s and into their 40’s. Exercise selection can be the difference between not just making gains but wether or not you’re healthy enough to even train. Anyone of the above exercises can result in a severe injury that could require time away from the gym and even surgery. If you want to make gains and stay safe be sure and keep the 11 exercises covered in this video where they belong… in the iron graveyard!
For safer (and better) exercise options it’s time you start training like an athlete. Follow the program used by today’s top pro athletes and celebrities to build ripped athletic muscle while protecting their joints and becoming more resilient to injury. Get the ATHLEAN-X program at athleanx.com by clicking on the link below.
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