5 of the Worst Exercises for Men in Their 30s

Ever wonder why you’re not achieving your fitness goals? Maybe you’re getting injured too frequently, forcing your workout routine to stall. Though getting hurt isn’t entirely avoidable, we’re here to offer some expert advice about exercises that are bad news for guys who are 30 or older. “Whether it’s too much weight, too many reps, or too much too soon, any exercise can be a bad thing in excess” said Jacqueline Kelly, a sports psychologist and personal trainer. With the help of Kelly and some other fitness professionals, we’re unveiling the five exercises you should skip to reduce your risk of injury.

1. Leg press

man performing leg press on a machine

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Think about the position your body takes when you’re doing leg presses. Now think about how it relates to and affects your lower back. “Because the pelvis and sacrum are ‘locked’ on the bench, they become the closed chain end of the movement system,” said chiropractor Ryan Curda of Personalized Chiropractic. During this exercise, the stress of the weight is transferred through the legs and focused into the sacroiliac joints of the low back. For many men in their 30s, this spells serious back pain.

You don’t have to give up strengthening your legs, though, just opt for a different move. “Choosing a hack squat, standard barbell squat, or weighted lunges are all great options to improve leg strength while distributing the weight load throughout the rest of your body and saving your low back,” Curda said.

2. Sit-ups

Young man doing sit-ups

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According to Matt Tanneberg, CSCS and sports chiropractor at Arcadia Health & Wellness Chiropractic, the discs in your spine have a fluid center, but they don’t have their own blood supply. They only receive blood and fluid when the vertebrae above and below compress them. This becomes more of a problem as we age.

“Classic sit-ups are bad for anyone, but especially 30-year-olds,” Tanneberg said. “Your discs in your low back are drying up. When you do a traditional sit up and round your back, you put your low back in a stressful position. You can easily herniate a disc from the excess stress.” Tanneberg recommended replacing classic sit-ups with planks and side planks.

3. Heavy deadlifts

Deadlifts, weight lifting, exercise

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Once again, heavy deadlifts place excess stress on the lower back. “This can easily bulge a disc in your low back,” Tanneberg said. “You can still do Olympic lifting, including deadlifts, but keep the weight lighter and really be conscious of your form.”

4. Rows with rotation

close-up of man working out on a rowing machine at the gym

Source: iStock

Rowing machines can be great, but be very careful about your form. “Rows are fine for strengthening the back muscles, specifically the rhomboid,” Tanneberg said. “However, when you perform a row you must keep your core tight and stay away from rotating.” In order to get the benefits of this exercise without hurting yourself, Tanneberg recommended that you “perform rows, but activate your core muscles and don’t rotate your upper body.”

5. Skipping warm-up or recovery

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

Like many other things, moderation is essential at the gym. Even if you’re a health nut who has an Adonis-like physique, too much of anything can be problematic. Listen to your body as you enter new stages of life. “A man in his 30s has to recognize that he can probably still do what he did in his 20s, but he will need to warm up longer, plan on a longer recovery time between exercises, and stretch after the workout,” Kelly said. “At 35, he can’t jump in where he left off 10 years ago and think he won’t hurt himself. It’s not the exercise, it’s the over-enthusiasm for any one that’s the problem.”

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