It doesn’t matter how much you can lift or how long you’ve been lifting – one bad move can still cause serious injury. As trainer Mike Boyle points out: “Some of the most popular exercises out there are also among the most dangerous and ineffective.” Purge these body breakers from your routine, before they stall your progress – or send you to the sidelines.
Unlike the classic pull-up, this move builds momentum generated from hip thrusts, and is favoured by extreme workouts. “It’s a simple way to do more reps,” says Boyle, “but each one pulls your shoulder joints, which are among the most delicate in your body.”
The underhand grip of a chin-up relies more on your biceps than the overhanded pull-up. Grab a chin-up bar using a shoulder-width, underhand grip and hang at arm’s length. Cross your ankles behind you. Pull your chest to the bar, pause, then return to a dead hang.
This is an excellent muscle builder. “But perfectly executed dips are like unicorns,” says Boyle. And shoddy dips – done with flared elbows and a vertical torso – increase the strain on your rotator cuffs, which are the most vulnerable parts of your shoulders.
This push-up provides the same benefits of a dip without the risks. In a push-up position, with your hands directly under your shoulders and your elbows tucked against your sides, lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor. Pause, then push back up.
45-degree Leg Press
“This exercise forces you to round your back, compressing your spine,” says trainer Craig Ballantyne. “That can cause a herniated disk.” And it doesn’t engage your core or stabilising muscles, so it won’t help beyond the gym.
Dumbell Bulgarian Split Squat
This exercise tests your core and balance. Holding a pair of dumbbells next to your sides (palms in), place the top of one foot on a bench behind you. Lower your body as far as you can. Pause, return to the start. Do the same number of reps on each side.
Bodybuilder Bench Press
Bodybuilders and many gym rats flare their elbows to focus more weight on their pecs to bulk up faster, which also increases the stress on their rotator cuffs, says Ballantyne.
Powerlifting Bench Press
Powerlifters move as much weight as possible by keeping their elbows close to their sides to minimise shoulder strain. Hold a barbell using an overhand grip that’s slightly beyond shoulder width. Tuck your elbows as you lower the bar to just below your nipples.