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10 Worst Exercises

author image Christa Miller
Christa Miller is a writing professional with expertise in massage therapy and health. Miller attended San Francisco State University to earn a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing with a minor in journalism and went on to earn an Arizona massage therapy license.
10 Worst Exercises
Sit-ups can strain the back. Photo Credit: Maridav/iStock/Getty Images

Exercising on a regular basis will help you control your weight, stay healthy and boost your mood and energy levels, according to Harvard School of Public Health. With that in mind, you may think that just about any type of exercise is better than no exercise. In reality, some exercises are unnecessary, a waste of time or even dangerous. Thus, they consistently rank among top lists of worst exercises.

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Traditional Sit-Ups and Crunches

The plank exercise is very effective and won't hurt your back.
The plank exercise is very effective and won't hurt your back. Photo Credit: capdesign/iStock/Getty Images

Crunches and sit-ups focus only on the middle abdominal muscles -- the rectus abdominis -- also known as the “six pack.” In addition, the motions involved in sit-ups and crunches can cause back pain, according to the Harvard Health Publications. Exercises such as planks are more effective at working all of your core muscles, plus they won’t strain your back.

Ab Machine Workouts

Ab machines can make you rely on using other muscles.
Ab machines can make you rely on using other muscles. Photo Credit: Ingram Publishing/Ingram Publishing/Getty Images

Using ab machines can detract from a good abdominal workout because it gives you leeway to flex your arms, shoulders and legs instead of relying on your core strength, according to Fitness Together, a personal training fitness website. Doing bicycle crunches or performing crunches with a stability ball will force you to use more core strength.

Lat Pull-Downs and Shoulder Presses Behind the Neck

Always keep the bar in front of you, not behind.
Always keep the bar in front of you, not behind. Photo Credit: Art-Of-Photo/iStock/Getty Images

Pulling down cables or lifting an object over your head behind your neck stresses your rotator cuff muscles and can lead to long-term painful shoulder impingement. You are at an especially high risk of damaging your shoulders if you have limited range of motion in your shoulder joints. If you are going to lift weights or use a lat pull-down machine, keep the action in front of your breastbone.

Leg Extensions

You can have an unbalanced workout with leg extensions.
You can have an unbalanced workout with leg extensions. Photo Credit: matthiasdrobeck/iStock/Getty Images

Using a leg extension machine isn’t functional because it doesn’t mimic any movements you would normally perform in daily life, according to exercise physiologist Neal I. Pire in an article. Leg extensions also are less effective than other leg exercises because they isolate your quadriceps, which are your front thigh muscles. You may end up straining your hamstrings, which are on the backside of your thigh, if you don’t balance your legs out with more holistic leg exercises such as lunges.

Tricep Extensions

Tricep Extensions
Tricep Extensions Photo Credit: Mihailo Milovanovic/iStock/Getty Images

Doing triceps extensions can be impractical because proper form requires you to reach fully behind your back with your upper arms by your ears and your elbows pointing straight up, according to You may find that you develop neck pain and can’t fully extend your triceps if you have a stiff and inflexible back. Try a more inclusive and effective upper body workout such as triceps pushups.

Ballistic Stretches

Contrary to popular belief, “bouncing” into stretches won’t help you work into a bigger stretch. In reality, your muscles contract to protect themselves if you suddenly overstretch them, according to the Better Health Channel, a health-based website established by the Australia State Government. This can lead to small muscle tears and unnecessary soreness. A healthier alternative is to focus on slowly working your way into a stretch, hold it for about 10 to 20 seconds, rest and then hold a gently increased stretch.

Full Squats

You can injure your knees doing full squats
You can injure your knees doing full squats Photo Credit: matthiasdrobeck/iStock/Getty Images

Squats make excellent upper-leg exercises, but you risk straining your knee joints and lower back if you force your knee joints past about a 90-degree angle, warns the Better Health Channel. Keep your squats to about half that -- 45 degrees -- and keep an eye on your body mechanics by watching your reflection in a mirror.

Extended Cardio Sessions

30 minute cardo sessions
30 minute cardo sessions Photo Credit: Maridav/iStock/Getty Images

More isn’t always better when it comes to cardio. An ideal jog or other cardio workout should have your heart rate within 65 to 85 percent of its maximum. You may end up canceling out your hard-earned strength training and burn off muscle mass if you stay at this intensity for over 45 minutes. Keep your cardio workouts to about three 30-minute sessions a week to preserve muscle mass, recommends Health Services at Columbia University.

Waist Twists and Bends

Twisting your waist and bending your sides may slightly boost your flexibility, but it probably won’t do much to trim down your waistline or tone your core muscles. You also may end up straining your lower back if you twist and bend too often or too abruptly. For a safer and more effective core workout that involves torso movement, stand upright with your feet planted firmly on the ground, hold a weighted medicine ball and rotate slowly from side to side.

Any Spot-Reduction Exercise

If you do any kind of strengthening or toning exercise to try to take inches from any one area of your body – your thighs or buttocks, for instance – you won’t specifically burn fat from that area. Spot-reduction just doesn’t work. Evidence that spot-reduction is a myth includes the fact that tennis players have about the same amount of fat in their playing arm as they have in their inactive arm, according to the American Council on Exercise. You will gain more muscle in an area if you consistently work on it, but you need to do cardiovascular exercise and burn fat throughout your body to see fat burn in any one spot.

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