10 Dangerous Exercises All Men Should AVOID

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10 Dangerous Exercises All Men Should AVOID
10 Dangerous Exercises All Men Should AVOID! Graphic © healthpowerboost.com.
Background photo: Pixabay (PD)

If you’re hitting the gym, you’re doing great already! There’s overwhelming scientific evidence on the physical and mental health benefits of breaking a sweat regularly. [1]

But the question is, are you doing it right?

Are you making the most of your time and effort in the gym? And most importantly, are your exercise routines leaving you vulnerable to the risk of avoidable injury?

It‘s crucial that you understand which exercises are risky – and why. There are numerous exercises out there that are plain bad for you. But you’ll still find misinformed people wandering from one ineffective, dangerous exercise machine to another.

So, which common workouts should you be avoiding? According to the seasoned personal fitness trainer and YouTuber Max Postermak from Gravity Transformation, the top 10 exercises all men should skip are as follows. Whether you’re new to fitness or a veteran gym-goer, improving your exercise efficiency and reducing your chance of injury is crucial. Start by purging these high-risk exercises from your workout routine and explore better alternatives:

#1 Exercise to Avoid: Selectorized Ab Machines

Packing great abs is probably on every gym-goers list of resolutions. And it’s not surprising to see people lining up for selectorized ab machines.

But as Max explains, these machines are a potential hazard – with lower back issues waiting to happen. “Besides a greater potential for a lower back injury, you will also get significantly less results from these machines than if you stuck to regular ab exercises like crunches, hanging knee tucks, & inclined situps.”

They lock you in a range of motion throughout the exercise, making your movements awkward and unnatural. You also miss out on working your abdominal stabilizer muscles, which means your functional core strength takes a hit.

#2 Exercise to Avoid: Behind the Head Shoulder Press

“Going behind your head puts your shoulders in a very compromised position,” Max says. You’re forced to rotate your arm outward. This puts your rotator cuff in a weak, unstable position. And if you have a rounded upper back or poor shoulder mobility (which is common today due to our work and tech usage), you risk shoulder and neck joint injury.

Max further argues that there a no proven benefits to going behind the head. For a safer and more effective exercise, he suggests always keeping the barbel in front of your face.

#3 Exercise to Avoid: Smith Machine

Despite its appearance as a barbel hooked to a squat rack, it’s easy to forget that a Smith machine is not a piece of free-weight equipment. Like other selectorized machines, it does not have a free range of motion.

According to Max, squatting on a Smith machine forces you into an unnatural linear motion with the back perpendicular to the floor. This stresses the vertebrae, putting you at risk of back injury.

Additionally, a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research shows that the Smith machine does not train stabilizing muscles effectively. [2] You’re better off sticking to regular dumbbell or barbel squats with proper form.

#4 Exercise to Avoid: Hip Abduction and Adduction Machine

You may have heard that pushing your thighs apart or squeezing them together on Hip Abduction and Adduction machines benefits the glutes. But besides straining the spine, the exercise is not functional. You won’t find yourself performing similar movements in real life.

“If you’re really concerned about working your abductors, then perform exercises with resistance bands while standing rather than using these seriously dangerous machines,” Max says.

#5 Exercise to Avoid: Seated Torso Rotation Machine

The Seated Torso Rotation machine is intended to improve your rotational power and shape the obliques through stabilized motion. Your lower body rotates on a swivel with the upper body in a fixed position.

What’s missing from this calculation is that the lumbar spine is not designed for this high degree of movement. Exercising on the Seated Torso Rotation machine is a recipe for lower back pain and even damaged discs.

Max suggests cable wood chops or side planks as safer and more effective exercises to work your obliques.

#6 Exercise to Avoid: Upright Row

The upright row may be popular and relatively effective, but that does not make it safe. As a scientific study in the Strength & Conditioning Journal elaborates, the inherent motion of the exercise places the shoulders at risk of impingement, especially if you don’t have good technique and posture. [3]

Max warns that the upright row can lead to overuse injury over time. Effective and safer alternatives include regular lateral raises, incline frontal raises, or cleaning, presses, and snatches.

#7 Exercise to Avoid: Lat Pull-Down Behind-The-Head

Similar to behind-the-head shoulder presses, the lat pull-down behind-the-head increases your risk of a neck and rotator cuff injury.

Instead, Max insists you do it right by drawing the weight down to the chest. This allows you to pull more weight to build more strength and muscle over time. Scientific research shows that the front lat pull-down is superior to the behind-the-head lat pull-down—and much safer. [4]

#8 Exercise to Avoid: Leg Press Machine

“The leg press machine is very bad mechanically for your body because it does not allow your muscles and joints to perform in a functional manner and puts a huge amount of stress on your knees and lower back,” says Max.

It’s impractical, and the awkward seated position puts undue pressure on the knees and lumbar spine. Besides, some studies show that the squat is significantly more effective than the leg-press. [5] Max recommends regular barbell squats, walking lunges, and deadlift split squats.

#9 Exercise to Avoid: Leg Extensions & Leg Curls

Using leg extensions and leg curls is not functional. They are not natural movements in our everyday life. Isolating the knee joint only applies undue stress across the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and knee cap. More functional and effective alternatives exist to build leg muscles fast without the unjustifiable risk of injury.

#10 Exercise to Avoid: Back Hyper-Extension Machine

While the back hyper-extension machine can be safe with proper form and technique, Max remarks that most people get it completely wrong. They end up extending the lower back beyond a neutral spinal position—risking disc injury from the high level of compression on the spine. And even with proper form, it’s essential to take it slow with weights.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMiiOZBRwyM
Topic: 10 Exercises All Men Should AVOID!
Who? Gravity Transformation – Fat Loss Experts with Max Postermak

Learn More: The Only 12 Exercises You Need To Get In Shape



[1] Ruegsegger, G. N., & Booth, F. W. (2018). Health benefits of exercise. Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine, 8(7), a029694: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28507196/

[2] Schick, E. E. (2009). A comparison of muscle activation between a Smith machine and free weight bench press. California State University, Fullerton: https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Abstract/2010/01001/A_Comparison_Of_Muscle_Activation_Between_A_Smith.143.aspx

[3] Schoenfeld, B., Kolber, M. J., & Haimes, J. E. (2011). The upright row: Implications for preventing subacromial impingement. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 33(5), 25-28: https://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/Fulltext/2011/10000/The_Upright_Row__Implications_for_Preventing.2.aspx

[4] Sperandei, S., Barros, M. A., Silveira-Júnior, P. C., & Oliveira, C. G. (2009). Electromyographic analysis of three different types of lat pull-down. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 23(7), 2033-2038: https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/fulltext/2009/10000/Electromyographic_Analysis_of_Three_Different.17.aspx

[5] Wirth, K., Keiner, M., Hartmann, H., Sander, A., & Mickel, C. (2016). Effect of 8 weeks of free-weight and machine-based strength training on strength and power performance. Journal of human kinetics, 53(1), 201-210: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5260589/

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