These Dangerous Exercises Cause More Injuries Than Any Other

When looking at the risks associated with exercise, you have a much better chance of long-term survival if you choose working out over staying on the couch. Still, there are some moves that just aren’t safe, especially for beginners. Here are a few dangerous exercises you should avoid — or, at the very least, learn to perform correctly before making the risky attempt.

1. Overhead squats

woman exercising

This exercise requires a lot of both upper and lower body strength. | jacoblund/iStock/Getty Images

Lifting things over your head makes you feel strong — but that’s not going to do you much good if you’re not actually strong enough. Full-body exercises like these require all your muscle groups to be on the same page. If you haven’t been working out your hips, for example, you risk injuring those muscles.

Next: Leg day isn’t supposed to be this painful.

2. Seated leg extensions

Leg extension machine

Leg extension machines are tough on your joints. |

Forcing yourself to straighten out your legs while sitting doesn’t really make them stronger. In fact, you’re putting yourself at risk of a knee injury the more weight you add to this machine. You’re much better off doing squats — the right kind — the next time leg day rolls around.

Next: You have better options than this risky move.

3. Lat pull-downs

young man doing lats pull-down workout

It’s not safe to put this much stress on your shoulders. | iStock

You risk a serious rotator cuff injury in your shoulder if you try these, especially if you’re doing them behind your head. There are better ways to strengthen and tone your shoulders without putting too much unnecessary stress on them.

Next: There’s no strength training law that says you have to do these.

4. Romanian deadlifts

female lifting weight bar in gym

Proper form is essential here. | iStock

Many people who try deadlifts either don’t distribute the weight properly with their feet or round their backs as they lift, which are both ineffective and dangerous. You should never put all the stress of a lift like this on your back. Your butt and legs have to carry some of it, too.

Next: There are better things you can do with these popular workout tools.

5. Kettlebell swings

man doing kettlebell swings

You’d be surprised how important it is to use your butt and legs for this one. |

People who try this seemingly simple move before learning how to do it right risk shoulder injuries, which can take you out of the strength training game for much longer than you’d probably prefer. It’s all in the hamstrings and glutes, not your arms.

Next: For the sake of your neck, don’t do these.

6. Bicycle crunches

Women doing bicycle crunches

See how her neck is strained? | Antonio Diaz/iStock/Getty Images Plus

These moves offer little to no lower back or neck support, which means doing them as fast as you can puts you at risk of several different serious spinal injuries. Either slow your bicycle crunches way down or do something safer and more effective, such as alternating side planks.

Next: If you do this wrong — and most people do — you’re putting yourself in danger.

7. Pull-ups

men doing pull-ups

You can’t just jump right into these. | iStock

This exercise actually isn’t that dangerous — but most people do pull-ups incorrectly, which is a definite risk. If you don’t know the proper form for doing a pull-up, or you aren’t strong enough to do them right, practice with a resistance band and someone spotting you to correct your form.

Next: Posture is important, especially when trying these.

8. Bent over rows

man with weight training equipment on sport gym club

Be careful when bending over. | iStock

Rows are great strength training exercises if you want a strong back, but many personal trainers advise against doing them while bent over at the waist. That position will likely interfere with your posture and could lead to an injured nerve in your spine.

Next: What sport or daily function actually requires you to be able to move like this?

9. Backward medicine ball tosses

Two women with medicine balls

Keep those medicine balls in front of you. |

Unless you want to deal with a herniated disk, you probably want to avoid exercises that require your spine to bend backward at any speed other than slow. You can use medicine balls to build up your strength, but you typically shouldn’t try throwing them behind you.

Next: Never try this move sitting down.

10. Preacher curls

Muscular Bodybuilders Doing Exercises with Dumbbells in Gym

Again, you don’t want to put unnecessary strain on your shoulders. |

This strength exercise involves sitting on a bench while doing curls with a barbell. This positioning puts your shoulder blades in the worst possible alignment — plus, leaning forward doesn’t offer any core or back muscles. Bicep curls should always be done in a kneeling position.

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