The Thigh Adductor MachineDo: Instead, train the muscles of the inner thigh, hamstrings, and glutes with single-leg Romanian deadlifts, McCall suggests. To do single-leg Romanian deadlifts pictured , stand with feet together and knees slightly bent, holding a dumbbell with left hand. Engage abs, and balancing on right leg, hinge forward at hips, lifting left leg behind hip until chest is almost parallel to the floor.
Keep spine naturally straight, abs engaged, and return to start. Seated Torso Rotation Do: Wood Chops 3 of 15 All photos "When using [the seated torso rotation machine], the pelvis does not move as you rotate your upper body, which can place excessive twisting forces on the spine," says Jessica Matthews , a certified fitness instructor and exercise physiologist for the American Council On Exercise.
The key is to focus on bracing the core throughout the entire movement, Matthews says. To do wood chops pictured , begin in a split stance with left foot forward, holding a medicine ball.
Brace abs in tight and reach ball overhead and to the left, keeping torso steady. Slowly bring ball down and across to right hip. Keep abs engaged and body still, return to start. Shoulder Presses Behind Head Do: Overhead Shoulder Presses 4 of 15 All photos A shoulder press done behind the head doesn't have any added benefits from a regular shoulder press, only increased risk," says Rick Richey , a master instructor for the National Academy of Sports Medicine and owner of R2Fitness in New York City.
Even for people with optimal range of motion, the behind-the-head shoulder press puts the shoulder joint at a highly disadvantageous and dangerous position that locks down joints at the sternum, collarbone, and shoulder blades and inhibits arm movement, he adds.
To do standard dumbbell shoulder presses pictured , stand holding a pair dumbbells, engage abs, and curl weights in front of shoulders. Extend arms overhead, keeping dumbbells slightly in front of head, rotating palms outward. Bend arms and return to start. In addition to shoulder presses that avoid going behind the head, I also recommend scaption exercises since they create minimal pain or trauma and allow for greater range of motion under resistance, Richey says.
Romanian Deadlifts 5 of 15 All photos By locking your knees while performing straight-leg deadlifts, your lower back is forced to round instead of hinging at your hips and do all of the work to move the weight, which increases your risk for injury, says Nick Tumminello , certified strength coach and owner of Performance University.
To do a Romanian deadlift pictured , stand holding a weighted bar or dumbbells with knees slightly bent. Keeping abs engaged and back naturally arched, hinge forward at the hips, reaching weight toward the floor. Without rounding spine, return to start. Squats with Exercise Ball Do: Thera Band Squats 6 of 15 All photos "People think that by using a ball, it increases their knee stability and tracking during a squat.
But it doesn't," says Alfonso Moretti , certified personal trainer and owner of Angry Trainer Fitness. Without proper strength in this area, the larger, more powerful adductor muscles of the inner thigh will literally 'pull' the knees toward the centerline of the body while squatting.
Although using a ball between the legs appears to fix the issue by preventing the knees from caving in, it actually makes it worse. By holding or squeezing the ball between the legs, you further strengthen the adductors and once the ball is removed, the knees will collapse in. Think about tracking knees over and in line with hips and feet by 'pushing' the knees out slightly during the entire movement.
This will help to engage and 'fire off' the gluteus medius, Moretti says. Clean and Press 7 of 15 All photos "The problem with this particular exercise is that it is a difficult movement to perform and creates imbalance in the body, which can cause injury," says Daryl Conant , exercise physiologist, personal trainer, and creator of the AB Inferno.
Oftentimes the torque is generated in weaker muscles and can ultimately cause injuries. The clean and press. It is one of the only exercises that works every joint, in addition to working the cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and nervous systems," Conant says. The barbell also allows for easier handling and control of resistance, reducing the chance of imbalances, he adds. To do the clean and press pictured , load a barbell and stand behind it with feet hip width.
Conant recommends starting with a lighter weight to master form before progressing to a heavier load. Lower into a deep squat to grab onto the bar, keeping spine naturally straight. In an explosive motion, pull the bar up quickly in front of the chest. Rest the bar there for a split second, then push the bar overhead, locking the elbows into full extension.
When the bar is overhead, make sure your body is in alignment from wrists to hips to ankles. Then, in a reverse motion, return the bar back down to the floor. Horizontal Squats 8 of 15 All photos Research shows that people who suffer from spine conditions such as spinal stenosis a narrowing of the vertebral lumen , disc bulging, or herniation should not do crunches," says Linda LaRue , RN, certified personal trainer and creator of the Core Transformer.
The horizontal squat may not be a well-known exercise, but "it's a great move that works your entire core three-dimensionally and involves acceleration and deceleration most sports injuries happen when you're decelerating. You can also progress this move by adding a side plank or mountain climbers at the end," LaRue says.
To do the horizontal squat pictured , start on hands and knees, keeping belly button drawn into spine and holding a constant kegel the same feeling as holding in urine when you really need to go. Lift knees off ground slowly, shifting weight into legs, sitting back into hips as if doing a squat. Quickly drive body forward, extending legs into the top of a pushup or plank position.
Hold this pose for 2 seconds, keeping head stacked in a straight line with hips, knees, and ankles. Keep shoulders down and stacked directly above hands. Double Leg Lifts Do: Bridges 9 of 15 All photos "People do leg lifts to tone the abs, but it's actually one of the worst exercises for the lower back," says Lisa Kinder , certified personal trainer and star of the Minute Solution: When this muscle is contracted, it pulls the lower back into hyper-extension and squeezes the discs, which can put a person at risk for a herniated disc.
To do it, lie faceup with knees bent, hip-width apart, and feet flat on the floor. Gently contract abdominal muscles to flatten lower back into the floor try to maintain this gentle contraction throughout the exercise. Exhale, and keeping abs engaged, lift hips off the floor and lift toes, pressing heels into the floor for added stability. Avoid pushing hips too high, which can cause hyper-extension in the lower back.
Keeping abs strong helps prevent arching. Inhale as you slowly return to start. Lat Pulldowns Behind Head Do: Kneeling Band Pulldowns 10 of 15 All photos Lat pulldowns behind the head force the shoulders to work at an angle they're not designed for, which can cause inflammation and tears in the rotator cuff muscles, says Matthew Richter-Sand , certified personal trainer, sports nutritionist, and owner of NX Fit.
The trouble is that [pulling a weighted bar down behind the head] slowly tears the rotator cuff, so it's hard to realize that you're doing damage. Plus, the only way to avoid smashing your head is to extend your head forward, which puts even more stress on your spine. Kneeling band pulldowns are a better option because you can keep your body perfectly aligned without worrying about a bar hitting your head. Plus, the band allows a full range of motion and provides resistance throughout the entire movement.
Doing them in a kneeling position increases engagement of the thigh muscles, which may not be as active during a traditional, seated pulldown, Richter-Sand adds. To do the kneeling band pulldowns pictured , kneel while holding onto ends of a resistance band anchored at a high sturdy point. Hinge forward about 45 degrees from hips, keeping spine naturally straight. Pull band down, pressing shoulder blades down, and bend elbows by sides.
Isolated Biceps Curls Do: Plank Rows 11 of 15 All photos While biceps curls aren't an unsafe or "bad" exercise, I'd rather do a three-for-one toning move that strengthens your shoulders, core, and arms at once, says Andrea Metcalf , certified personal trainer and author of Naked Fitness. To do plank rows pictured , begin in plank position, dumbbell under right hand.
Brace abs in tight, and row the weight up to the side of ribcage, bending right elbow in by side. Do one full set 10 to 12 reps and then switch sides, or alternate arms for each row just be sure to do equal reps on both sides.
Dumbbell Front Raises 12 of 15 All photos "[Upright rows] can cause inflammation and pain in your shoulder joints," says Tom Holland , an exercise physiologist and author of Beat The Gym. Dumbbell front raises are a better alternative because they do not require internal rotation of the arms under load, a potentially harmful combination, Holland says.
To do the dumbbell front raise pictured , stand with feet hip width, holding dumbbells in front of thighs, palms facing in.
Keeping torso steady, raise arms to shoulder height. Hold for 1 count, and then return to start. Weighted Oblique Crunches Do: The Degree Burn 13 of 15 All photos Most people do not perform standing, weighted side-to-side crunches with proper posture, so it creates too much strain on the spine and can lead to lower-back injuries, says Kim Truman , certified personal trainer and owner of Kim Truman Fitness.
Since the degree burn only uses your body as resistance, you place less stress on your spine while still working your obliques. To do the degree burn pictured , lie on right side with legs and feet together, upper-body propped up on right elbow.
Bend left arm across chest with fingertips lightly touching the floor. Extend legs and feet slightly in front of body, and lift to about a degree angle, keeping hips stacked. Hold at the top of the movement for about 3 seconds, and then slowly lower legs back to the floor. Perform equal reps on both sides. Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch 14 of 15 All photos The scorpion is typically performed during a dynamic warm-up to activate the glutes and open up the hips, but it places a combination of rotational and extension forces on the lumbar spine which can result in serious injury, says Jon-Erik Kawamoto , C.
The kneeling hip flexor stretch or single-leg hip lift are both better alternatives because they do not place the spine in a harmful position, he says. To do the kneeling hip flexor stretch large image place left knee on a mat with right leg forward, forming a degree angle at each knee.
Lift body upright and brace abs. Reach left arm forward and hold onto a body, chair, or wall for balance. Contract glutes and shift weight forward into right foot, pressing pelvis forward to stretch front of left hip and thigh. Hold for 5 seconds. Return to the start and repeat on other side. To do the single-leg hip lift small image , lie faceup with knees bent, feet flat.
Hug right knee into chest with both hands, forming a degree angle with leg. Press left foot into the ground to lift hips up, forming a straight line from shoulders to left knee at the top of the lift.