There are literally hundreds of exercises you can do in the gym or at home. Some you love; some you hate. Some work; some don’t. You can find any number of videos online with moves that the trainer, expert, or guru says you have to try. The truth is there are probably some exercises you shouldn’t be doing — or ones you should do instead. We spoke with certified personal trainer Heather Neff and got her list of the top three moves she has her clients avoid and what to do instead.
Avoid: Tricep Dips on a Bench
You know this one. It’s a hugely popular exercise that engages the triceps, but the problem with doing dips on a bench is the position they put your shoulders in, said Neff.
Why you shouldn’t do it: At the top of your triceps dip when the shoulders are locked out, a great deal of pressure is put on the AC joint, which is located just where the shoulder blade meets the collarbone. If your AC joint is already under stress or has previously been injured, this movement can cause damage or even separation. Then at the bottom of the dip, the unnatural position of the shoulder ligament and anterior deltoid (the front of your shoulder) will cause a great amount of pressure as well and can lead to a tear. [What to do when your shoulders hurt when you type]
Save your shoulders and go for a triceps push-ups. Not only do they target the triceps, they also engage the core and work the muscles of the chest as well. So you’ll be getting more of a workout with these too! You can do push-ups from the toes or from the knees, then work your way up in your own time.
Avoid: Good Mornings
This exercise is gaining popularity because it works the back, glutes, hamstrings and hips. But it doesn’t come without issues, Neff advised.
Why you shouldn’t do it: The reason this is one of the top exercises your trainer wants to avoid is that good mornings (shown here without a barbell) are not the best for your body is that they can compress the spine and also put a lot of pressure on the lower back. Many people will overload the amount of weight they can safely do, increasing pain and the potential for injury.
Go for a deadlift because it will work the exact same muscles as good mornings, except you won’t be risking your lower back (if you do them correctly). If you’ve never tried a deadlift before, be sure to start with an empty bar. This will not only give you a warm-up, but it will give you the feel for the exercise and make you more comfortable in doing them.
Let’s get past the superhero reference with the least amount of fandom as possible. The truth is that this is a move that has become a staple of a lot of workout routines, but it’s also a move that you should stay away from.
Why you shouldn’t do it: Not only is this exercise bad for the back in that it compresses the nerves between the spine, but it has such a limited range of motion that you’re not fully engaging the intended muscles. The position (face down) that the superman exercise puts you in does not allow for much of an extension.
Instead: Bird Dog
A better way to get more range of motion with the erector muscles and leave out the harmful compression is by doing a Bird Dog exercise. Raising one arm and one leg at a time will allow you to reach upward much further and engage the intended muscle much more effectively. It will also take a load of pressure off the spine and aid in flexibility while also engaging the glute muscles and the shoulder muscles as well.