Bad Exercises to Avoid (and Recommended Alternatives)

Bad Exercises to Avoid (and Recommended Alternatives)

Not all exercises are equal. Some exercises are simply more effective at what they’re supposed to do than other exercises.

On the other hand, there are exercises that don’t really work at all. Worse, some of these exercises might not just be ineffective, but also increase the risk of injury.

Differentiating between the good and the bad exercises isn’t always easy. That’s why it’s great that gyms such as Bodyplex offers various classes on the most effective exercises to achieve your particular fitness goals. They can teach you exercises that focus on the body parts you want to concentrate on in a given day. They can teach proper form, and also help you use machines properly so you reduce the chances of injury.

The topic of bad exercises can be a rather sore subject among certified trainers. Here are some exercises they generally discourage their members to perform, and the exercises that they wish people would do instead:


The Superman exercise is supposed to target the lower back, but it’s not really a good idea. That’s because it forces the lower back to overextend again and again. It just leads to more back pain instead.

Your better option is to go with the reverse back extension. Your back extends fully, but it doesn’t overextend. This exercise also tightens the core and the glutes, and this benefit helps support your lower back to prevent back pain.

Barbell Jump Squat

This is a weighted plyometric exercise that’s meant to tone the legs and glutes, and it involves the use of a barbell (as the name indicates). But using the barbell this way can be problematic, especially without a trainer to guide you. Most people make the mistake of adding too much weight, and this puts pressure on the joints and back.

To target these same muscles, you may want to switch to exercises like dumbbell jump squats, box jumps, and bodyweight squat jumps. The bodyweight squat jump is a lot better than the barbell jump squat, as it requires your body to move in a way that saves you from unnecessary pain.

Behind-the-Neck Presses

This is an exercise that’s popular among lots of bodybuilders. It’s for strengthening the triceps, upper back, and shoulders.

But the truth is that it’s actually one of the least effective exercises for boosting your upper body strength. It puts on unnecessary pressure on the neck and shoulder muscles, leading to pain and increased risk of injury.

It’s also crucial that you do the behind-the-neck presses with proper posture. But you can’t do that if you have rounded shoulders and upper back, and this can then lead to a higher injury risk. Most people actually have poor shoulder mobility these days, due to their jobs (and regular phone use).

The better alternative is the dumbbell Arnold press. It targets the triceps, along with the front and back deltoids.

Behind-the-Neck Lat Pull-Downs

Doing stuff behind the neck may not just be a good idea, in general. A lat pull-down is actually one of the most effective ways to develop your upper back muscles, and to fix your posture. But it’s only good when you do this with the cable in front of you.

Doing this behind the neck, on the other hand, significantly increases the risk of injury. With the behind-the-neck version, you’re thrusting your head and neck forward. This can then lead to serious muscle strain and various issues with your spine.

Hip Abduction Machine

Some gyms may have this, but it’s not really the best idea to use it. Yes, it targets your abductors, which are the small muscles in the hips that extends the legs away from the midline. Focusing on the abductors can help you develop nice, rounded glutes.

But this machine isn’t quite as effective as other glute exercises, and it may also increase the risk of injury. The better glute exercises are more effective because they force the muscles to act in the way they’re designed to be used. That also means reduced risk of injury.

So, for better results, you should try to go with using a lopped band while squatting, deadlifting, or hip thrusting.

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