10 Gym Exercises You Should Stop Doing

10 Gym Exercises You Should Stop Doing

Posted by Bob Choat; February 2, 2014

Having been a member of many gyms through the years, I’ve seen many exercises come and go. Still, many of them persist to this day. Most of them center around the type of equipment that is used. This has led to injuries, muscle imbalances and more. Based on my own observations, science and others, I’ve come up with 10 exercises that you should stop doing now.

  1. Leg extensions.  While these exercises train the quads hard, they also put pressure on the knees.  Additionally, it creates a muscle imbalance due to the hamstring muscles not being in play as well as the glutes.  Yes, many into bodybuilding train their quads this way to look good.  If you want less functionality of your legs and more injuries, then do this exercise.
  2. Leg presses.  Same as the leg extensions regarding creating a muscle imbalance. The seated position isolates the quads (as does leg extension) and does builds mirror leg muscles.  It does nothing for the whole leg or glutes.  The only benefit would be for rehab in my opinion.
  3. Smith Machine squats. Another exercise that focuses primarily on the quads.  And not much different than leg presses.  Do regular squats if you want to build legs.  For myself, I do pistol squats as my primary movement for legs (besides walking).
  4. Crunches. With all the data regarding their ineffectiveness, especially for function fitness, many people still do these.  Do planks instead to help build a foundation and then progress to leg raises.
  5. Behind-the-neck pull-downs.  This exercise causes the head to be strutted forward (aka: forward head posture) and the whole spinal column gets thrown out of whack. This leads to numerous problems, including headaches and jaw pain.  And it looks bad.  Another thing, behind the neck pull-downs don’t really work the back properly.  Instead, do pull-downs to the chest.
  6. Behind-the-neck barbell-presses.  Like the behind-the-neck pull-downs, they cause forward head posture.  The rotator cuff also gets stressed and can be injured.  Do this exercise to the chest and it feels better too.
  7. Upright rows. These well-meaning exercises can lead to an impingement of the nerves in the shoulders.  Do shrugs instead (without the shoulder roll) and only if you think you need them for your traps.
  8. Preacher bench curls.  I have to admit that I did these back in my bodybuilding days.  Yes, they do isolate the biceps.  The problem (besides being an isolation movement) is they lead to tightening of the chest muscles.  A lot of guys who do preacher bench curls tend to have arms that are jutted forward and thumbs turned inward. This is especially true of guys that are mirror muscle focused. Muscle imbalance galore.
  9. Seated rotation machine. I don’t know why people are still using these machines.  They put undue stress on the lower lumbar area and can even lead to injury.
  10. Stiff-legged deadlifts.  Most people do these with a rounded back which can lead to herniated disc.  Stop doing these and instead, focus on doing regular deadlifts (as long as you’re using your glutes to help you lift, not your back).

Overall, my own personal preference is to do more bodyweight exercises that are really functional.  I do handstands, low crawls, pull-ups, push-ups, pistol squats and much more.  I can do them anywhere and I’ve built my body up the right way.  Make fitness enjoyable and use whole body movements.

Cheers, Bob Choat


“Transformational Master Black Belt” America’s #1 Mind-Body Transformation Expert and author of Mind Your Own Fitness
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