9 Common Exercises You Should AVOID

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Finding time to work out sometimes can be exhausting. That’s why, when you’re actually breaking a sweat, you might want to use your time carefully. While most of the exercises you try will get you moving, which is good for you, there are still some particular moves that are more effective and safer than the other ones.

So, the question is simple: why waste your time and energy on workouts that you should avoid? In order to help you make the most out of your time at the gym, we thought you’d like to know which exercises to skip. So, the session starts NOW!

Jump over these 9 useless exercises:

Dumbbell Side Bends

When you want to slim your waist and tighten your love handles, these dumbbell exercises must be one of your first choices of movement. The only problem is that these exercises don’t actually engage your obliques at all, according to the performance specialist Matt Cheng, CSCS. “Most of the time, it requires too much lateral bending and twisting of the spine”, he explained.

Instead, Cheng recommended doing hanging oblique knee raises on a bar. “These target the same oblique muscles while taking the pressure off your spine.” Instead, you can try gripping both of your hands around a pull-up bar and hanging with your feet together and your body straight.

Remember, you have to do it without swinging a bit! Then, bend your knees together and draw them up toward your right arm. After that, bring your feet back down together.


The superman exercise is focusing on body weight, and it is known for targeting the lower back. Even so, “this exercise will force your lower back to overextend multiple times, and only contributes to bad patterns and even more back pain”, as Cheng explained.

As a better alternative, you can try doing reverse back extensions, which will allow your back to extend completely without hyperextending it. Plus, they also tighten your glutes and core, which will only help support your lower back and prevent pain. Instead, try to lie down on your stomach on top of a stability ball, while keeping your hands and feet on the ground, hip-distance apart.

Behind-the-Neck Presses

This is a very popular bodybuilding exercise that helps strengthen the shoulders, upper back, and triceps. Even so, it’s one of the least effective exercises for building upper body strength, as it can actually harm your neck and shoulder muscles.

Standing with good posture is very important when it comes to this exercise, so if you have rounded shoulders and upper back, then you might risk injury. “What makes this exercise so useless is that most of us have poor shoulder mobility because of our jobs” Cheng explained.

If you want to try a safer version of this exercise, you might want to try the dumbbell Arnold press. This particular move targets the front and back deltoids, but also the triceps.

Barbell Jump Squats

If you want to tone your glutes and legs, weighted plyometric exercises such as the barbell jump squat might be the first ones to pop your mind. However, when you’re using a barbell in such exercises, you might be tricked into adding too much weight, which will only put more pressure on your back and joints, as Cheng explained.

To harness strength in those muscles that you want to focus on, you might want to try bodyweight squat jumps, box jumps, and dumbbell jump squats instead. Only mastering the bodyweight jump squat or changing the placement of the weight will make a great difference in the way you move, and it will save you a lot of pain.

leg extension exercise
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Leg Extension Machines

Even if some exercise machines might be great when it comes to correcting form and targeting specific muscle groups, the leg extension machine isn’t exactly one of them. “The leg extension machine applies constant pressure to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and increases the risk of the patella (knee cap) sliding right or left”, as Chris Ryan, CSCS, a founding trainer of Mirror, explained.

“It puts maximum force on the back of the knee cap, which is the thinnest portion of the cartilage. Ryan would advise you to try doing squats instead, deadlifts, lunges, and Bulgarian split squats, so you can build strong quads and glutes instead.”

Smith Machine

Smith machines are usually used for a variety of barbell exercises, such as back squats and deadlifts. The only problem with this particular machine is that it has a fixed bar path, which means that it will force you to move with it, rather than with your own natural movement.

People always move in a multitude of ways, depending on their height, mobility, and other constraints, as Ryan explained. The fixed bar might lead to injury, as it overloads the joints on a movement path that might feel a bit unnatural to you.

While it is the best option to use dumbbells, resistance bands, and kettlebells to do functional movements such as presses, pulls, squats, and lunges.


There’s a reason why crunches are on this list: and it is because most people won’t do them as they should. As Ryan explained, “people usually think that quantity is way better than quality, so crunches are much easier to be done by most people, especially if they want to crank out a high number of reps at a very low-quality movement.

Building a strong core is all about building time under tension safely.” He also suggested that you can create a strong core by doing lots of leg lifts, overhead movements with your arms extended, and even rotational exercises such as the medicine ball wood chop.

biceps exercise
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Biceps Curl Machine

The bicep curl machine won’t allow you to access the full range of motion an actual curl with weights offers. Also, it can cause many issues with posture and form. A traditional bicep curl with dumbbells will perfect your posture, as your shoulders will stay back and down and the only movement in your upper body will come from your forearms.

If you want to know how to do a bicep curl correctly, hold a dumbbell in each hand, and keep your elbows close to your torso. Press your shoulders back and down, so you can anchor your upper body in place.

Then, bend your elbows to lift the weights up, until your biceps are contracted. Then, take a brief pause so you can squeeze the biceps before you lower the dumbbells back to the starting point.

Hip Abduction Machine

This machine is supposed to help you to target the small muscles in your hips, also known as your abductors that are responsible for extending your legs away from your midline. Even so, it isn’t as effective as another exercise, the glute one, which activates the same muscles, as Rachel MacPherson, an ACE-certified trainer and weight loss health coach explained.

As she said, “if you really want to grow nice and round glutes and avoid getting injured, the best thing is to use those muscles in the way they are supposed to be used: by using a lopped band while squatting, hip thrusting, or even deadlifting.”

If you enjoyed reading this article, we also recommend reading: 10 Realistic Fitness Goals Recommended By Personal Trainers

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