Whether you’re a newbie or a long time gym-goer, there are likely to be a few exercises that you’re performing without realising they were bad for you.
We could spend days listing the ways we see people performing exercises incorrectly, so we’ve singled out seven exercises that are popular with gym-bros that they are constantly performing wrong and could be causing themselves serious injury.
Bad variations of good exercises
1. Behind-the-head shoulder press
Shoulder press is a staple of traditional weight training, and as long as you’re concentrating on correct form, bracing your core, and protecting your back, it is a brilliant exercise to build big, strong, sexy shoulders.
However, you may have seen guys around the gym bring the bar behind their head rather than down in front of their chin… WHY??!! This has no benefit to your shoulder muscles and actually forces you to over-rotate your arms back, putting added stress on your rotator cuff.
A lot of us have tight, protracted shoulders due to sitting at a desk all day, so in order to get the bar behind your head you’d have to over-rotate your arms and lean your head forward, causing a risk of injury to your neck.
Just a bad idea in general guys. Shoulder press with the bar in front of you, lowering it down to just below your chin on each rep.
2. Lap Pull Down Behind The Head
The exact same thing goes for the lat pull down. There is NO reason to pull the bar down behind your head, and you can suffer all the same injuries you could from a behind-the-head shoulder press.
It’s much better to lean back about 30 degrees and pull the bar down to the centre of your chest. You can pull much heavier weights, work all the same muscles, and will be at much less risk of injury.
Machines that are a SERIOUSLY bad idea
3. Ab Machine
Not only are these machines a TOTAL waste of time, but they can also be problematic for your łower back.
Like most resistance machines, they’re locked into a fixed range of motion. No two people are built exactly the same, and even identical twins will have different postures, injuries, and range of motion. Using an abs machine means that you’re following its range of motion rather than your body’s natural range.
Even if you managed to set it up PERFECTLY it would still be incredibly limiting and could potentially cause some repetitive strain to your lower back.
Just grab a mat and do some planks, leg-lowers, or even old fashioned crunches. All far more effective.
4. Hip abduction and adduction machine
These machines are just fucking nuts! Try and think of any kind of natural movement that would simulate this. Ok, spreading your legs might be a common movement for some, but how often are you doing that with a load of weight?! Just ridiculous. Avoid!
Machines that are SOMETIMES a bad idea
5. Smith Machine
A Smith Machine isn’t inherently bad, but using it as a replacement for your big compound lifts (squats, deadlifts, bench press, shoulder press) is a BAD idea.
Despite how similar it looks to a regular squat rack, the Smith Machine is not a free weight, so you’re once again locked into an unnatural range of motion. Just think about your squats. In a Smith Machine, you’re forced to lean your weight backwards, which will not prepare you for regular squats as you’ll just fall back onto your ass.
The machine also prevents your back from bending, which may sound like a good thing for beginners, but will actually increase your risk of injury. Squatting is a natural movement that human beings have done for millennia, the Smith Machine squat is just bizarre. Avoid!
6. Leg press machine
I was a long-time fan of the leg press, jumping on whenever all the squat racks were being used. Turns out that was a big ole mistake! Like the Smith Machine squat, a leg press is a really restrictive movement that prevents your back from bending in a natural way.
7. Leg extensions & leg curls
Leg extensions and leg curls can be beneficial if you’re rehabbing an injury, or if you happen to be a professional bodybuilder. Other than that, these moves are just putting added stress on the knee without any real benefit. You’re much better off doing other functional exercises that will strengthen the knee in ways that it will be used in real life.
Get a gay personal trainer
The safest way to train, whether you’re new to gym life or not, with with the help of a gay personal trainer (you could get a straight one too I guess). They’ll be there to guide you through your workout, set goals, and make sure you won’t injure yourself while training.