Avoid these 4 like the plague


When it comes to exercise selection, we typically talk about exercises one should do, but that's not enough. We must also address the other, equally important side of the coin: exercises one should definitely NOT do!

You can be doing all the right exercises, but if you're doing even just one exercise that you shouldn't (because it's ineffective or unsafe) your results are going to suffer. At best, a bad exercise wastes your recuperative ability.

Much worse, poor exercise selection can lead to injuries which force you to take time away from the gym. In case you didn't get the memo, you can't make physique and performance progress when you're at home nursing an injury. No, not even with PED's...

Here are four movements you should drop like a bad habit... Now!

-Behind-the-Neck Shoulder Press

Question: Would you jump off the roof of your house to activate the maximum number of motor units in your quads? I'm going to assume the answer is no. I hope so at least.

Although you'd likely achieve more quad recruitment with roof-jumping than with anything you've ever done in the Gym, it wouldn't really matter. You'd be too occupied with things like crying like a schoolgirl, calling 911, and looking for your kneecaps to be able to enjoy the awesome depth jump you just did.

Pretty much along the same lines, there's no doubt that behind-the-neck presses are good at stimulating the deltoids. VERY good, indeed. But just because an exercise is good for your muscles doesn't necessarily mean it's good for your joints.

The main problem with behind-the-neck presses is that the movement has to be done with the shoulders in extreme external and horizontal abduction. In other words, you're required to do the movement at the very end range of motion for the shoulder joint. Your body is not really meant to work that way.

While it's true that the shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the body, it's also the most unstable for the very same reason. So, just because you can actually get a barbell behind your head doesn't mean that you should do repeated movements, against a substantial load no less, in that same position.

It's WAY safer to press overhead with the humerus moving in the scapular plane, which is about 30° forward of the frontal plane.

To find the scapular plane, raise your arms straight out to the sides until they're parallel to the ground (as in the top position of a lateral raise). Now bring your arms forward about 30°. Your humerus is now in the plane of your scapula. This is the position your upper arms should be in when you do overhead presses.

Granted, there are some people who can do behind-the-neck barbell presses for years and never have a shoulder problem. Likewise, there are people who can smoke two packs of Marlboro a day for decades and never get lung cancer. But in both cases, you're gambling... and you're doing it with odds that are not in your favor.

Shrugs with Shoulder Roll


In the 90's and 2000's, it seemed that everyone who did shrugs did them with a roll, either rolling their shoulders forward or backward after each vertical shrug. Sadly, I still see plenty of people doing this, so let's set the record straight.

You do shrugs to build our upper traps, right? Well, the primary function of your upper traps is to elevate your shoulders. So it makes sense: shrugging upward against resistance builds your upper traps. We're good so far, but now let's look at the rolling component of "rolling shrugs."

Once you're in the top position of a shrug, rolling your shoulders forward from that point actually moves the line of force anterior to and away from the upper traps, just the complete opposite of what you want to do.🤦🏻‍♂️

So not only does rolling your shoulders forward during shrugs fails to work better, it's actually worse. The only thing forward-rolling shrugs do for you is let everyone around you know that you have no idea what you're doing in the gym. I guess some may still see that as an accomplishment.

If you insist on doing your part to keep rolling shrugs in style, at least roll your shoulders backward when you do them. That way you can say you do it to give your scapular retractors (rhomboids, middle, and lower traps) a little extra work. No, it doesn't work them well at all since the resistance is going down and your retractors pull back so you basically don't really understand how gravity works, but hey, at least it's something.

Twisting Sit-Ups

People do twisting sit-ups to target both the rectus abdominus (abs) and the obliques at the same time. Killing two birds with one stone? Makes perfect sense on paper, but there's a problem.

When you do a sit-up (or a full crunch where your lower back doesn't stay flat on the ground) your lumbar spine rounds forward, which is called flexion. The problem is, spinal flexion puts a lot of pressure on the intervertebral discs.

To make things worse , there's one specific motion that's far more dangerous to discs than flexion: flexion combined with rotation. Unfortunately, that's the exact motion you're doing when you do sit-ups with a twist!

Flexion with rotation pushes the nucleus pulposus (the jellylike center) of the disc back and to the side, which is precisely where discs tend to herniate.

Unless you actually want a herniated disc (and experience the numbness, tingling, and excruciating pain that goes with it) avoid sit-ups with a twist, or any spinal flexion combined with rotation. Just forget it.

Stiff-Legged Deadlifts with a Rounded Back

Like mentioned above, spinal flexion (rounding your lower back) seriously puts a lot of undue stress on the nucleus pulposus of the discs. In addition to flexion with rotation, there's yet another type of stress that's even worse than flexion alone: flexion with compression.

Flexion with compression could also be stated as flexion under load. For example: doing a barbell stiff-legged deadlift with a rounded back. (Just picturing that as I type it makes me cringe...)

It's one thing to round your back while you're bending over to touch your toes, but it's a 'lil more dangerous situation when you do that with added resistance! The compressive forces of the weight exponentially increase the force placed on those poor, poor discs of yours. 20lbs in your hands can easily translate into 60lbs on your lower back.

Doing a stiff-legged deadlift with a rounded back is basically asking for a herniated disc. And don't think just because you've done that before and didn't herniate a disc that you never will. Disc herniations are essentially repetitive-use injuries that occur gradually over time. That's why it's so important to protect your lower back from the very beginning of your training career.

Besides stiff-legged deadlifts, people tend to round their backs as well on squats, bent-over rows, and low-cable rows. No matter the exercise, make sure to keep your back flat (or better yet even slightly arched) during every movement, especially if there's added resistance involved.

Always try to keep in mind that an exercise that may be good for your muscles may at the same time be severely damaging to your joints. The above four exercises have no place in your routine if you have long-term results in mind.