Top 7 Exercises to Avoid

Learn which exercises cause injuries and should be avoided. Plus, 7 recommended substitutes for dangerous exercises.

Ben Greenfield
3-minute read
Episode #88

While it may seem intuitive that any form of exercise is probably good for you, there are some exercises that may actually cause joint damage or put you at high risk for injury. Unfortunately, just because an exercise apparatus is at a gym or health club does not mean it is safe. While poor form on any exercise can turn an otherwise safe move into a risky activity, there are some exercises that should be completely avoided, even if you can do them with good form.>

Here are the top 7 exercises to avoid, along with better alternatives that get you better (and safer) results:

#1: Machine Side Raises

This is a machine on which you sit, and then raise your arms out to the sides, with resistance provided by pads somewhere in the region of your upper arms. The problem is that this machine “locks” your shoulders into a range of motion that can actually cause rotator cuff pain, and impingement, which is the compression of soft tissue under the bones in your shoulder. A better alternative would be dumbbell side raises, which work the same shoulder muscles, but give your shoulders significantly more freedom of rotation.


About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.