Ever seen a dude curling in the squat rack? How about a chick that refuses to re-rack their weights?
In every gym, there’s that one token gym-goer (or five) that simply refuse to abide by (or even acknowledge) the well-accepted tenets of acceptable gym behavior. Common courtesy aside, many exercisers commit even more nefarious travesties, repeatedly performing exercises that place themselves- and others- at risk.
Whether you hit the gym daily or three days a week, be sure to cross the following exercises off of your personal repertoire, lest you be escorted out of the weight room-by a paramedic, no less.
The leg extension machine typically tops a trainer’s list of most-hated exercise machines, and for good reason: any trainer worth their salt will tell you that the leg extension machine places you directly at risk for serious knee pain and/or injury. Forcing the quad to press weight in a kicking motion places the knee at risk for excessive wear and tear, bearing unnaturally heavy loads in an equally unnatural plane of motion.
Rather than focusing on quadricep muscles by using a dangerous machine, try barbell front squats, barbell back squats, or the leg press machine, all of which allow for a safer and more natural range of motion for the knee joint and its accompanying tendons and ligaments.
Performing dips on a bench is a quick way to irritate the shoulder joint, small ligaments, and surrounding musculature, setting the stage for unnecessary pain and injury. When performing bench dips, your body is projected out and away from your shoulder joint while your weight presses backwards and down- this places the shoulder joint in a compromised position. Injuries to the rotator cuff muscles and deltoid are all too common with this exercise.
If you’re intent on performing dips, try using an assisted dip machine or parallel bars, both of which place your body in safer alignment- with your weight situated directly beneath you.
Better yet? Find another exercise to work your triceps, chest, and/or shoulders. There are plenty of them, minus the very real and likely risk of pain and/or injury posed by dips.
Roman Chair (Hyperextension Machine)
Trying to strengthen lower back muscles or chisel your way to a carved midsection? Avoid the roman chair- the only thing this medieval torture device will give you is a herniated disk.
Most gym goers lack the strength or ability to maintain a straight form when moving up and down on the roman chair. Instead, they move from a downward, curved position to an upright, hyperextended position. In doing so, the often “explosive” motion of the upward drive into that hyperextended position exacerbates nerves and creates potential for irritated discs and herniations.
Remember that the back is a vulnerable spot for many gym-goers- back injury and pain can be severe and take months or even years to rehabilitate, so always use caution when performing exercises that isolate back muscles. When in doubt, skip it. If you’re intent on strengthening lower back muscles, reach out to a trainer or physical therapist for personalized help training this vulnerable area.
Morgan Medeiros is a certified nutritionist, holding a both a Bachelor and Master’s Degree in Clinical Nutrition. Morgan completed her undergraduate education at Central Washington University, and her graduate education at Northeastern University. During her time as a graduate student, Morgan focused her area of expertise in health education, weight management, and behavioral change. Morgan has experience working in areas of nutritional neuroscience and disease prevention, obesity prevention, and weight loss. Morgan also works in areas of nutritional analysis and menu labeling for restaurants, where she is able to creatively bridge her interest in food culture and health education. In her free time, Morgan enjoys traveling, reading, writing, running, and spending time with her family and friends (including- most importantly- her dog, Clyde).