Jeff Cavaliere from Athlean-X has created a video of 5 exercises that you should stop doing right NOW.
The risk of injury from these exercises outweighs the perceived benefits, especially when they can be easily replaced with movements that are better for both gains and safety.
Read on for all the scientific reasons you should send these five outdated movements to the “iron graveyard,” never to be used again.
Or risk being haunted by a torn muscle, injured ligament, or a slipped disc…
1. The CHEST FLY
Many lifters claim that they get a great stretch in their pecs from the motion of chest flies.
However, as Jeff Cavaliere explains, the way your pectoral muscles link up with your shoulder means that your chest doesn’t actually stretch any further than parallel – that is, once your arm passes the point of parallel with the chest (such as the way you end a bench press), you’re no longer stretching the pec.
What does stretch at the end of the chest fly movement is the coracobrachialis, a small and vulnerable muscle of the upper arm.
If you continue with chest flies, your likelihood of injuring the coracobrachialis and your pec increases.
Save yourself the risk and switch chest flies for other chest exercises like the bent-forward cable crossover that has equal impact on the muscle, and a much better safety profile.
The Replacement: 3D Cable Crossover
2. Behind The Neck Shoulder Press
Looking to overload your shoulder? Then the behind the neck shoulder press might be in your routine, and for good reason – overhead lifting is a great way to build up the shoulders. However, the angle that your shoulder joint rotates at is super important when it comes to safety.
The shoulder joint naturally functions at its best when the hands are at least slightly ahead of the chest.
When the shoulder is forced to rotate with the arms out to the side, such as in a behind the neck shoulder press, the head of the humerus bone comes up against the outside structure of the shoulder socket.
Repeating this motion puts your shoulder at risk of impingement – a condition that, along with rotator cuff injury, causes the third most common complaint seen by orthopedists – chronic, debilitating shoulder pain.
The Replacement: Any overhead lift with the arms out in front of the chest (e.g. Arnold press)
3. Upright Rows
Another way to protect your shoulders is to avoid the upright row.
Like the behind the neck shoulder press, this movement can lead to impingement. Overusing your shoulder joint at this incorrect angle will stress it unnecessarily. No matter how wide you grip the bar, your shoulders are going to be rotating internally.
This is especially dangerous in an exercise that demands regular reps. A 2014 study found that shoulder impingement was significantly more common in those who performed the upright row versus those who did not. Don’t worry – you can continue with shoulder abduction exercises without risking rotator cuff injuries (which usually come with lengthy recover times). Just skip the upright row and try a high pull instead.
The Replacement: High Pull
4. Good Mornings
On paper, good mornings are actually good movements that work the entire kinetic chain (the system of joints and muscles working together through their connection to the spine). But they’re not as common these days – probably due to a large number of injuries associated with them…. Most people are not able to maintain proper form for this “morning stretch” motion, and deviations can cause terrible injuries to the lower back – injuries as severe as a slipped disc.
Remember – using incorrect form doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t trying hard enough!
A lot of people are physically incapable of performing this movement safely due to stiffness in their backs. This is especially common for people who work at desks, which is true of many of us. Look after your lower back by stretching it regularly and kick good mornings to the curb.
The Replacement: Jeff from Athlean-X doesn’t mention one in his video, but Back Raises are a good alternative to Good Mornings.
5. Leg Extensions
Jeff from Athlean-X has a laundry list of reasons why leg extensions don’t belong in your exercise program.
They apply a shearing force on your knees, which means that one part of your knee is being pushed in one direction while another part is going a different direction.
This puts stress on the ligaments of the knee, which are already under constant tension from the resistance of the exercise.
Secondly, the ACL is put into a vulnerable position through this motion and is at risk of injury. If you know anyone who has had a tendon injury in their knee, you know how painful and lengthy recovery can be – if they were able to recover from it at all. One study on cadets at the West Point military academy showed a 40-100% failure rate of ACL repairs.
Leg extensions aren’t worth the risk!
These moves also don’t involve contraction from the hamstrings to complement the stress on the knee joint. Stick to leg exercises where both feet are firmly planted on the ground – these are more beneficial for increasing leg strength, and they keep your ACL safer, too.
The Replacement: Any other leg strengthening exercise (e.g. squats)
It’s time to ditch these outdated, dangerous moves to workout more safely and effectively.