A lot of people pick up their gym habits and routines simply by watching other people at the gym. If you’re silently and sheepishly nodding to yourself, this post is for you! As it turns out, there are many exercises that people frequently do that cause more harm than good. If you’re doing any of the below exercises, we highly recommend that you stop and replace them with the alternatives that we suggest.

1. Sit-ups: Hopefully everyone knows by now that sit-ups are a terrible idea. They don’t help reduce your waistline, which is a misconception that a lot of people held. We know for certain that your waist line reduces as a function of overall weight loss, not local targeting. Sit-ups also cause an extreme amount of strain on the back. So if you want to strengthen your core, replace sit-ups with planks or plank variations.

2. Deep Squats: deep squats are when your glutens and hips go below your knees. This isn’t great for your knees and so when you’re squatting, make sure you don’t go lower than your knees. While we’re on the topic of squatting, we should mention that a lot of folks tend to overdo the high-weight low-rep approach to squatting and can land themselves in deep lower-back trouble. Be safe!

3. Upright barbell rows: Upright rows are done by lifting the barbell straight up from arms extended to arms by the chest while standing up. Replace this exercise with straight arm raises. Raise your arms straight out in front of you one-by-one while holding dumbbells.

4. Double leg raises: this is when lying flat on your back, you raise both legs at once. You can strain your back by doing this. Replace double leg raises with single leg raises. You’ll get the same level of intensity without putting your lower-back at risk.

5. Behind-the-neck Lat Pulldowns: Notorious for causing shoulder problems, this exercise has fallen out of fashion with people in the know. The variation in which you pull down in front of your neck is a lot safer.

6. Behind-the-neck Shoulder Press: Much like with Pulldowns, Front Shoulder Presses are the way to go to keep your shoulders from rotating inwards and risking serious injury.

7. Upright barbell row: upright barbell rows are when you bend over at the waist and lift a barbell by bringing your hands towards your ribs. This exercise is not only bad for the back, it also rotates your shoulders inwards and no one wants that. Instead, do single arm bent-over rows.

8. Seated leg extensions: leg extensions are usually done using machines with a padded bar over your lower shins which you lift by straightening your legs at the knees. Replace this exercise with lunges or lunge variations to protect your knees.

9. Extended Cardio: Yes, too much cardio can be bad for you! Instead of doing long bouts of cardio, like running or biking for hours on end, train with intervals of sprints or resistance to get that extra cardio burn without worrying about impact or muscle loss. Of course, if you’re training for a marathon or triathlon, that’s a different issue. But just for the record, too many of those aren’t great for your body in the long run.

10. Straight leg deadlifts: straight-leg deadlifting is an absolute no-no. You can do all kinds of damage to your back, especially if you are lifting heavy weights. If you must deadlift, stick to the bent-leg, straight-bag way of doing it.

11. Back extensions: avoid all types of weighted back extensions. Replace these with the yoga-inspired Bird Dog for a more effective as well as less risky way to work your core!

That’s it for today, Vivo team! Keep it safe, keep it real. If you’re ever in doubt about what an exercise looks like, how to do it correctly or strength sequences that incorporate an exercise, we have a library of a lot of cool moves that you can check out for free in the Vivo App!


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