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Weight Lifting Exercises to Avoid. Replace with These Exercises

Weight Lifting Exercises to Avoid. Replace with These Exercises

Very often at the gym, I can see people doing weight lifting exercises they shouldn’t be doing, that is the main reason why I want to talk about which Weight Lifting Exercises to Avoid. I will tell what exercises we can replace them with as well.


I want to share with my top exercises which are inefficient, very unsafe and can cause very serious injuries. Most of the people don’t know what these exercises are. In fact, when I ask my friends to tell me at least a couple weight lifting exercises they should be avoiding, none of them could give me at least one exercise.


Let’s jump straight to the point and have a look at my top weight lifting exercises to avoid.


Behind The Head Lat Pull Down

Why avoid: I see people doing this exercise in the gym every time I’m in there and each time I’m so tempted to tell people that they shouldn’t be doing this exercise because it is very dangerous and very easy to get an injury. I’m sure you can see people doing this exercise in your gym too.


So why is this exercise that dangerous? Because it is such an unnatural position for shoulders when we are taking bar behind the head. Executing this exercise and forcing our shoulders to go behind the back puts too much stress and tension in our shoulder joints and muscles, which can cause serious injuries to our spine or shoulders. That is the main reason you should stop doing this exercise.


Replace with: You can replace this exercise with normal lat pull down, pulling the weight to your upper chest. Performing this exercise you are engaging exactly the same muscles and will achieve the same results as doing behind the head lat pulldown. Lat pull down is not that dangerous, because your shoulders are in a natural position and you don’t force your shoulders to go behind your back, which doesn’t create unnecessary tension on your spine, shoulder joints, and muscles.


Behind The Head Military Press

Why avoid: This is a very popular exercise among people too and I often see bodybuilders performing this exercise. But remember, if bodybuilder does something it doesn’t mean that it is the right thing to do. This exercise is dangerous, because of the same reason as behind the head lat pulldown. Lowering bar behind your head gives your spine and shoulder joints a lot of unnecessary stress and tension, which can cause spine or shoulder injury.


Replace with: Replace with the normal military press where you lower the bar to your upper chest. Performing military press will engage exactly the same muscles and you can achieve the same results as doing behind the head military press, without placing your spine and shoulders in danger.


Overhead dumbbell triceps extension

Why avoid: I often see people doing this exercise the wrong way. People often tend to execute overhead dumbbell triceps extension with too heavyweight and lower the weight down too low, which puts extra stress on elbows and shoulders. Executing this exercise correctly, it can be great triceps exercise, but you have to make sure you are holding the dumbbell with your palms facing up, not the handle, working out with lighter weight and don’t lower weight too low in this exercise, 90-degree angle at your elbows is enough.


Replace with: You can replace this exercise with skull crusher or cable triceps overhead extensions, these exercises are great for training your triceps, they are a lot safer because you don’t put that much of the stress on your elbows and shoulders.


Upright barbell row

Why avoid: One more exercise which people are doing at the gym all the time. People are doing this exercise with the intention of hitting shoulders and traps, but unfortunately, this is one of the most harmful exercises for your shoulders.


The problem with this exercise is an awkward position of your hands while you lift the weight towards your chin. Every time while lifting weight up to your chin you are creating huge tension and a small tendon in your shoulder gets pinched by the bones in the shoulder. You might not feel it or notice any issues for a long time until one day the tendon snaps causing injury which takes a very long time to heal.


Replace with: Replace this exercise with safer exercises such as dumbbell shoulder press, military press or front dumbbell raise. I can assure you, that you will achieve the same or even better results, without a high risk of injury.


Crunches or sit-ups

Why avoid: Crunches or sit-ups, creates a lot of tension of your lower back and spine and it is very easy to get lower back problems and pain. Sit-ups or crunches aren’t great exercises for your abs, because they do not create enough contraction in your abs. These exercises are dangerous and not very effective.


Replace with: you can replace sit-ups or crunches with leg raises, twisting mountain climbers or side plank with a twist. These exercises are a lot safer than crunches and they are much more effective too.


Dumbbell flies

Why avoid: Dumbbell flies are one of the most popular exercises at the gym and so many people doing this exercise. But it is very dangerous, because you create huge stress on your pec tendon, especially if working with heavy weights and it is so easy to get an injury and pop your pec open. An injury like that would take forever to heal. Is it worth the risk? Definitely NO. Executing dumbbell flies at the bottom (most dangerous) position you get most of the tension and weight is heaviest at that point, which is very dangerous, at the top position you get no tension and this is your easiest point which makes exercises not very effective.


Replace with: You can replace dumbbell flies with cable crossover. Cable crossover is a lot better exercise because at the bottom position you have the least tension, which takes the stress away from pec tendon. Opposite from dumbbell flies performing cable crossovers give you most tension at the top position, which is what we want while working out the chest.


One more option is to perform dumbbell flies while laying on the floor because the floor will support your shoulders and won’t let to lower down your weights too low protecting your pec tendon from injury.


Straight leg barbell deadlift

Why avoid: Straight leg deadlift is a very common exercise among people. It can be very dangerous because performing this exercise you have to lock your knees and keep your legs straight, which creates huge stress on your lower back and hamstrings and can cause an injury.


Replace with: replace this exercise with a regular deadlift which creates less stress on your lower back and hamstrings as you engage more muscles to help with the movement.


These are my top weight lifting exercises to avoid. Do not risk getting injured and change those exercises to safer and more effective ones. There are many safe and very effective exercises you can do without putting yourself at risk of getting seriously injured, which can stop you from exercising for a very long time. Be safe and always execute any exercise with correct form, if not executed correctly it is possible to get injured doing any exercise.


As always, if you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.


All the best,

Marius Mickevicius

Founder of ihealthylifestyle


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4 thoughts on “Weight Lifting Exercises to Avoid. Replace with These Exercises”

  • This post was so helpful! I just realized I’ve been doing a couple of these bad exercises! I definitely do the Overhead Dumbbell Tricep Dips! So yikes! Won’t be doing those anymore.

    Thank you for breaking down each exercise and explaining how they are harmful. It’s so informative. I really appreciate that you gave alternatives so that I can still work those muscle groups but avoid injury.

    I agree with avoiding crunches and sit-ups. especially if you’re a woman who has had a child. Those can be especially dangerous if your abdomen is not intact.

    You have given some great tips here, I will be sure to incorporpate these new exercises into my gym routine and I will also pass this along to my gym friends.

    • Thank you for reading my post. I always see so many people doing harmful exercises in the gym and have no idea that they can get injuries by doing them. There is too much misleading information on the internet and YouTube about exercises and some ‘Gurus’ encourage people doing them, but I wanted to share better and a lot safer alternatives which can help people to avoid injuries and get same or even better results by doing my suggested alternatives.

  • Hi Mario, I love this post and I leanrt a few things myself, and I do actually do some of these bad things too! I love the overhead dumbell triceps extension and it’s something I do regularly as it gives such great results, but I will definitely be mindful in future of how I do it.
    You are so right about seeing people doing dangerous exercises at the gym as I too see it a lot. Mostly I see people doing their weights way to fast and not creating enough tension, meaning they probably end up working twice as hard to see results.
    I will share your post with my brother who has recently started training and probably has no idea about these important tips.

    One last thing as a bit of feedback, it would be really great if you had some images alongside these moves as it’s quite hard to envisage what you mean just through words, especially to somebody who doesn’t know what all the exercises are called. It would just make it an even more awesome post!

    • Hi Stefanie, I’m glad that you enjoyed my post and found it helpful. The overhead triceps extension is good exercise, but dangerous so you have to be really careful with that exercise or change it to safer one. There are plenty of safer triceps exercises which are as good as overhead tricep extension.
      Thank you for your feedback, I will add videos to my article later, so readers could see and understand exercises better, I just need to record the videos in the gym.

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