TOP 5 WORST EXERCISES (Stop Doing These!!)

  • Published: 17 April 2014
  • Get your one way ticket from Snap City to Muscleville

    Any exercise can become the worst exercise if you perform it incorrectly. That said, certain exercises deserve the title of the "worst exercise ever" simply because of the low reward, high risk nature of it. In this video, I show 5 of the worst exercises for building muscle and what you can do instead.

    Each of the exercises listed in this video is included because of the high risk low reward that it offers. As a physical therapist and strength coach for professional athletes, I have to know where to draw the line between the two. If a quarterback or pitcher of mine wants to do max overhead snatches, I'm going to tell them it's a bad idea. Why? Because there are other ways to train upper body explosiveness without jeopardizing their career on one fatigued or poorly performed rep.

    The 5 worst exercises in this video are as follows:

    1. Chest flies - I've covered before why this is here. People will swear that they love the stretch they get on their pecs by doing this exercise. If you claim you never heard that argument, then you haven't spent enough time in the gym. They also claim that the adduction at the end of the movement gives them an incredible contraction on their chest. They're half right. There is no extra stretch on the pecs but they do increase the likelihood of injuring their pec with increasing loads held out at arms length. See the 3D crossover as a smarter (and better) option that you can overload even more and still get the benefits of the end contraction.

    2. Behind the neck shoulder presses - The problem with this exercise is that it is bad for the shoulders. It places the glenohumeral joint in an awkward position for pressing, which can lead to impingement. Pressing from the natural scapular plane is much more natural and will allow you to press more weight overhead in the long run, leading to bigger shoulders.

    3. Upright Rows - I've already discussed just how bad this exercise is for the integrity and health of the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder. What makes this shoulder exercise one of the worst is the position of the elbows and hands at the end of the movement. The exercise puts your shoulders into a provocative position for testing impingement. Instead, you want your elbows below your hands (as in the high pull) to still get the benefits of the abduction of the shoulders without the internal rotation.

    4. Good Mornings - This is actually not a terrible exercise for your back as it loads the entire kinetic chain in a functional way. The problem is that most people don't have the necessary thoracic extension to pull it off with proper form. One slip up from here with the load positioned out in front of the body as it is, and you're likely to slip something else...a disc in your lower back.

    5. Leg Extensions - This is a no brainer for me. This open chain leg exercise lacks any true function when compared to the numerous closed chain options you can be doing instead. Throw in the shear stresses, ACL tension, lack of hamstring co-contraction, and the imbalance of rectus to VMO firing and you've got a recipe for disaster.

    For safer (and better) exercise options it's time you start training like an athlete. Follow the program used by today's top pro athletes to build ripped athletic muscle while protecting their joints and becoming more resilient to injury. Get the ATHLEAN-X program at

    For more videos and tips to help you avoid the worst exercises and to get the best advice on training, nutrition and supplementation, be sure to subscribe to our channel at
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Comments • 9 924

  • Ali Naveed
    Ali Naveed  2 hours back


    • Tori S
      Tori S  9 hours back

      I have myself patellofemoral syndrome from increasing my load on leg extensions too quickly! I couldn’t figure out what i changed to develop it and this makes so much sense!!!

      • jeppe madsen
        jeppe madsen  2 days back

        I have a question i the only Way i Can Get it answered are over here: i train 3 times a week for hypertrophy. I eat the calories i should, but If i Dont eat like breakfast Its like all my gains are gone !? Like all over my body - Can Somebody help me out ??

        • Akhil Sharma
          Akhil Sharma  3 hours back

          Most likely no but still if you go without food for more than 13-16 hours then I'll be a problem as your gains will start getting reduced. Don't take meal gap for more than 13hrs. If you sleep 8 hours then you are left with 3-4 hours in which you have to eat some nutritional food.

      • Oogway 69
        Oogway 69  2 days back

        Damn leg extension was one of my favorite exercise to do. Now I know what It can do in the long run. Thank you

        • Adam Hupp
          Adam Hupp  4 days back

          Leg extensions are only bad if you do them improperly. Not holding onto the bench and not displacing the weight will kill your knees, duh

          • Johan Fouche
            Johan Fouche  1 weeks back

            So I still do fly's, but I do not extend my forearm. It does add a certain definition bench pressing doesn't. But totally agreed. That arm needs to stay 90 degrees.

            • Joshua C
              Joshua C  1 weeks back

              You seem to know what you're talking about why this is curious is that Evander Holyfield's training regiment always included upright rows, dumbells fly's, and leg extensions. Holyfield was one of the finest conditioned athletes ever. What am I missing that he could use them but others shouldn't???

            • Bhargav Chetal
              Bhargav Chetal  1 weeks back

              But Arnold made biggest chest with fly's

              • Kifter
                Kifter  2 weeks back

                Wait don’t do leg extensions? Bruh I been doing them for the past 3 days

                • syed ismail
                  syed ismail  2 weeks back

                  But Arnold does all these exercises

                  • Pete Padilla
                    Pete Padilla  2 weeks back

                    I really appreciate your video's, your thorough and explain working out processes well for me.

                    • Rohan Paul
                      Rohan Paul  3 weeks back

                      Superb please sir can you make a nutrition video for fat loss !

                      • LEE WALKER
                        LEE WALKER  4 weeks back

                        I couldn't agree more
                        I never liked these exercises. I always thought they were aggravating and not efficient and didn't build muscles

                        • nad ze
                          nad ze  4 weeks back

                          Please can someone tell me how to recover from the shoulder damage it pains alot while waking up in the morning. I have messed up my shoulder.

                          • Ivana Chapman Coaching
                            Ivana Chapman Coaching  1 months back

                            Great points! There are so many exercise options...why use something where the risk-to-benefit ratio is so high?

                            • Cainen Gray
                              Cainen Gray  1 months back

                              upright rows since the 80's light weights, narrow grip, up to the meat of the chest, no problems ever. Agree on everything else

                              • Caitlin Porter
                                Caitlin Porter  1 months back

                                What's a good alternative to upright rows?

                              • Powerlifitng Ashen
                                Powerlifitng Ashen  1 months back

                                Go make ueseld useful dumbass

                                • أحمد المنصور
                                  أحمد المنصور  1 months back

                                  thank you jeff, very helpful

                                  • Benedict Concepcion
                                    Benedict Concepcion  1 months back

                                    WCW LEGEND STING

                                    • Someone
                                      Someone  1 months back

                                      What do you think about chain triceps extension?

                                      • Leeren Chang
                                        Leeren Chang  2 months back

                                        I wish I watched your videos earlier. I've fallen victim precisely to the leg extension dangers you've alluded to. I haven't been able to squat for three months because I damaged my patellar tendon due to my rectus femoris becoming disproportionately stronger than my VMO. I've always wondered what caused this. Now I watch this video telling me this is exactly one of the problems leg extensions lead to. Damn.

                                        • Leeren Chang
                                          Leeren Chang  2 months back

                                          Anyone know any exercises targeted towards strengthening of the VMO, by the way?

                                      • Emran Alee
                                        Emran Alee  2 months back

                                        (ARNOLD): i was a big beliver in extending the dumble as low as possible cause remember for muscle its all about getting the stretch.... So u mean u know better then em Aahhh ?.

                                        • Christopher Leal
                                          Christopher Leal  2 months back

                                          I've always despised chest flies, behind the back presses, upright rows, good mornings, leg extensions, behind the back pull downs, machine crunches. I've had to see chiropractors a lot in the past due to all that crap. I've had better benefit out of compound movements like squats and deadlifts. Machine chest press is another bad one because it can asymmetrically place pressure on one rotator cuff if not done right.

                                          • Benjamin D.
                                            Benjamin D.  2 months back

                                            Jeff has reached fitness omniscience. Nothing escapes Jeff. Jeff will soon reach fitness omnipresence; no bad workout escapes him. We will all be stuck doing facepulls soon enough.

                                            • Anisul islam
                                              Anisul islam  2 months back

                                              Hi, can you please advise me about legs extensions. How many better exercise i/o leg extension.. Also give me advise about chest fly i/o which exercise we should follow.. Thanks

                                              • Rachel Knapp
                                                Rachel Knapp  2 months back

                                                As a past dancer, it's really easy to tell when an exercise will hurt you because it looks like a position you'd never be in for a performance. It's like an intuitive thing; if it looks wrong to me, its probably not good for my body.

                                                • matt herod
                                                  matt herod  2 months back

                                                  the good morning is a great exercise. just focus on sitting back into the lift, don't bend over with the bar or you will break your back.

                                                  • SECRET LOL
                                                    SECRET LOL  2 months back

                                                    VIDEO : TOP 5 WORST EXERCISES

                                                    ME : TOP 5 MY DAILY EXERCISES

                                                    • Newman Parker
                                                      Newman Parker  2 months back

                                                      *For sure do the exercise in **_Treat Your Own Rotator Cuff_** if you lift a lot - good shoulder stability = no injuries.*

                                                      • Runner Up
                                                        Runner Up  2 months back

                                                        I have that book - very good.

                                                      • abe p
                                                        abe p  2 months back


                                                    • Alexander Larin
                                                      Alexander Larin  2 months back

                                                      Sorry but I disagree about leg extension. It’s a one isolated exercise for quadriceps! I’m doing leg extension for 7 years. And I never had a problem with my knees.

                                                      • Lars Albertsen
                                                        Lars Albertsen  2 months back

                                                        what you were saying about the dumbell chestflys means the same for cable cross overs? Is there an exercise you would recommend forthe inner chest?

                                                        • Robert Gonzalez
                                                          Robert Gonzalez  2 months back

                                                          How is dead lifts not in your #1 spot?!?! 😂

                                                          • John Saxton
                                                            John Saxton  2 months back

                                                            Farmers walk!

                                                            • YouTube Premium User
                                                              YouTube Premium User  2 months back

                                                              You are such an insecure dweeb, nobody normal takes fitness this seriously. You were obviously a super skinny geek (ugly too) who got bullied relentlessly, so now you’re obsessed with fitness to “get back” at all those bullies. It’s also obvious you are supplementing testosterone. What a joke you are.

                                                              • YouTube Premium User
                                                                YouTube Premium User  2 months back

                                                                bud knowitall it is %100 true. Go look at the old pictures of Athlean X, he was a complete ugly, skinny wimp. He has a massive complex and is definitely on testosterone replacement therapy. He takes fitness to an autistic level.

                                                                Skinnyfat good looking guys will always look better than an ugly gymcel Manlet like Athlean X

                                                              • bud knowitall
                                                                bud knowitall  2 months back

                                                                that comment was great all beit ignorant. thanks!

                                                            • Arda Monowa
                                                              Arda Monowa  2 months back

                                                              I was doing 1-2-3 & 5 😱
                                                              Thank you bro. I learn much from you.
                                                              God speed.👍

                                                              • BigD 9110
                                                                BigD 9110  2 months back

                                                                I'll stop doing flys but im doing leg extensions forever

                                                                • cutie_pengsu
                                                                  cutie_pengsu  2 months back

                                                                  WTF....I just learned good morning from my trainer............................But I haven't practice that yet.should I???
                                                                  Why am I pay money to learn this SH*T??????
                                                                  5 classes left......and I want to change my trainer,haven't seen her license too..............................

                                                                  • Adam Buentello
                                                                    Adam Buentello  2 months back

                                                                    This is funny.. I never do dumbell flys because I just dont feel any burn/pump in my chest at all & all it really does it stress my forearms. I never do leg extensions because I noticed they actually made my quads SMALLER/leaner and they do hurt the knees. I never do good mornings cause they hurt my damn back & neck. The other two are just worthless, never needed them.
                                                                    Additionally I also don't do squats cause they're really bad for your lower back. I love leg presses, hip thrusts, lunges, and a few others but not squats

                                                                    • Irfan Jethwa
                                                                      Irfan Jethwa  2 months back

                                                                      Whats your take on weighted hip thrusts?

                                                                      • Alyssa M. Willis
                                                                        Alyssa M. Willis  2 months back

                                                                        I’m not sure how you got any thumbs down. This information is so beneficial and makes so much sense! No more leg extensions or DB flies for me!!! 🎉

                                                                        • Red Falcon
                                                                          Red Falcon  2 months back

                                                                          That's funny about the leg extensions placing a shear on the ACL. When I tore mine, the physical therapist had me doing lots of leg extensions and leg curls. I think she was wrong though. I ended up losing my ACL, and my PCL calcified. But, the other PT I went to later had me doing the same exercises.

                                                                          • Ani Sharma
                                                                            Ani Sharma  2 months back

                                                                            Arnold wants know your location 😂

                                                                            • James McCollom
                                                                              James McCollom  3 months back

                                                                              I'm glad these all need to stay in the graveyard, I've hurt myself doing all of these and these hurt on every rep that I try full range of motion, thanks and it's be so long since I've worked out hard and doing research on starting over with a injured, wore out, and abused body

                                                                              • James Campbell
                                                                                James Campbell  3 months back

                                                                                The Good Morning exercise is what tore up Bruce Lee's lower back he had to much weight on the bar.

                                                                                • iNeverPlayFair
                                                                                  iNeverPlayFair  3 months back

                                                                                  Bro, you could've just made a 30 second video telling me not to do those exercises and I would've just agreed with you.

                                                                                  • PWFan4Days
                                                                                    PWFan4Days  3 months back

                                                                                    Arnold Schwarzenegger the best bodybuilder of all time said that is one of the best workouts to use. He used flys and look where he got

                                                                                    • Sabu
                                                                                      Sabu  3 months back

                                                                                      Wait a second.... Is that STING at 8:50????