10 Exercises You Need Never Do Again

Written by Karen Andes

Banish these dangerous, useless contortions from your workout.

These get my vote as the 10 worst exercises of all times. They're dangerous, useless and you never have to do them again:

1. Behind the head military barbell press. Pressing up while in extreme rotation is the shoulder rotator cuff 's worst nightmare. Pressing with the bar in front of the face is OK.

Bad barbell form can cause rotator cuff damage.
Take your time with ab work to avoid lower back pulls.

2. Barbell upright rows. Pulling the bar to your chin is more rotator cuff abuse.

3. Good mornings. Should be called "good riddance" to healthy lower back muscles. The move? With a barbell on your shoulders and straight legs, you bow and come up. Not!

4. Fast, straight- legged sit-ups. This antiquated exercise uses hip flexors more than abs, momentum more than muscle and can hurt the lower back. Slow, controlled roll-ups (done the Pilates way) can strengthen abs and back.

5. Fast crunches. Once considered the only alternative to sit-ups, crunches are safe when slow. Fast crunches, involve more head pulling than ab strengthening and don't address lower belly muscles at all.

6. Yoga plow. Lying on your back with knees next to ears compresses your neck. Banned from fitness classes in the `80s, this move has made a comeback in yoga. (For a safer variation, keep legs in the air and rest your lower back in your hands to take weight off your neck.)

7. The hurdler's stretch. Sitting or lying down with one or both feet pulled to the outside of your hip is bad news for your knees. For a safe quad and hip flexor stretch, lie on one side, grab the "top" foot and pull it behind your back.

8. Straight-legged toe touches. Often used in yoga, hanging forward (with a rounded spine and arms dangling) puts too much weight on delicate vertebrae. Bouncing makes it worse. Support your spine by holding onto legs or a barre. Bend knees before straightening legs (and never lock knees).

9. Dropping or rolling your head back. Like the plow, this compresses your neck. If you have to drop your head back, don't go back all the way.

10. Deep knee bends. I hope no one does these anymore. Quickly dropping down, with knees exceeding a 90-degree angle, abuses the knee joint. Do your squats and leg presses slowly and make sure knees never venture out beyond toes.

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