Few things are more frustrating than injuring yourself during a workout, a time that should be beneficial to your physical and mental health. But, sadly, it happens. And some exercises lead to more injuries than others.


When it comes to safety issues, personal trainers have workout moves that they avoid or don’t do with clients for this very reason, plus the fact that some moves are ineffective.

Below, fitness pros share the exercise they do Not they do in their workouts, along with a few alternatives to try instead:


American swing with kettlebells

Jay Rose, the co-founder of Phase SiX, an online fitness training program, said one movement he advises people to avoid is the American kettlebell swing, which is a movement where you swing a kettlebell between your legs. overhead while keeping arms straight.

“Heyyou used to see it a lot a few years ago… it’s kind of calmed down a bit, but it’s still used out there,” she said.

According to Rose, this movement can lead to a number of problems, the first being an increased risk of injury. “The overhead position can put strain on the shoulder, lower back, and neck, especially if the lifter has poor shoulder mobility or lacks the strength to control the kettlebell in the overhead position,” he said. said.

“It also compromises form when the kettlebell reaches the overhead position. Maintaining proper form becomes challenging, and the athlete may arch their back or bend their elbows to compensate for the additional range of motion, which can lead to poor technique and potential injury,” Rose added.

Instead of this, Rose said a traditional Russian kettlebell swing, where you swing the kettlebell between your legs at about shoulder height, is a better movement to try.


“There [are] several benefits of the Russian kettle swing…it’s safer for the shoulders, lower back and neck,” she said.

With the American kettlebell swing, you can lose sight of the kettlebell once your arms are extended and it’s above your head (because you’re not looking at the kettlebell), which can lead to injury. But, with the Russian swing, you stop at eye level.

This “reduces strain on the shoulder, joints and spine,” Rose said. The shorter range of motion also helps the athlete maintain proper technique throughout the exercise, she added.

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MoMo Productions via Getty Images

When it comes to box jumping, there are many possibilities for injury.

Smith machine squats

“So, one thing in particular that I don’t do and even more so the equipment that I don’t use for this particular movement…is a Smith machine squat,” said Giulia Cammarano, trainer at Kali Strength, an all-women’s gym. gym in Denver. (A Smith machine is a type of fitness equipment.)

For this type of squat, the barbell is attached to a frame and stabilized within a rack that moves up and down. “It’s not just a free balance wheel,” Cammarano explained.

While there’s nothing wrong with doing squats with a Smith machine in general, the exercise doesn’t align with Cammarano’s training philosophy, which focuses on compound, functional movements.

Compound exercises are “movements that use multiple muscle groups and joints at the same time,” she said. “Like a barbell squat, for example, and it’s a really key component to developing total body strength.”

While squats are often thought of as a lower-body-only exercise, Cammarano said they actually work the whole body when done correctly and without the use of a Smith machine.

“Squatting on the Smith machine only removes that added [full body] benefit since it follows a direct path and you are supported by the stability of a machine… it completely eliminates the need to hold, balance and stabilize the body with other muscle groups,” he said. In particular, it erases the need to engage the core.

Instead of a Smith machine squat, Cammarano said he opts for a free-weight dumbbell goblet or a barbell back squat.

“These are essentially the same movement. It’s a squat, it just uses different equipment and it’s not supported,” she said. “And they’re compound movements, but all that supports you is the stability of your body and the activation of the smaller muscles in the core to sustain the movement.” This makes these exercises better for training effectiveness, she said.

Glute bridge with barbell

“I definitely believe that the barbell glute bridge is an over-the-top exercise when it comes to glute hypertrophy,” meaning building muscle in the glutes, said Andrew Gonzalez, a trainer at Chelsea Piers in Brooklyn.

“Staying in the realm of hip hining, I believe Romanian barbell deadlifts and Good Mornings… using the safety squat bar are better alternatives for glute hypertrophy because they provide a better stimulus to lengthen and shorten,” Gonzalez said.

Other than that, she said the Bulgarian split squat with some forefoot elevation is her favorite movement for glute work. “These exercises provide a better environment to deliver a fuller range of motion on the eccentric portion of the movement rather than the concentric portion, which is known to be a better driver for hypertrophy all around,” she said.

Weighted plank

For Jessica Aronoff, head trainer at ness, a dance-based fitness studio in New York City, the movement she avoids is a weighted board. (A plank is a core strength exercise where you hold yourself in a push-up position and engage your abs.)

“Loading a board with weight can often lead to compromised shape [like] a swing in the lower back, which means you have released [your] core involvement and/or unnecessary tension in the traps and neck as we focus on simple weight resistance,” he said.

Instead of using weight to level up your board, Aronoff said there are other ways to do it. “The plank is a wonderful bodyweight exercise because it encourages you to engage your core using stability,” Aronoff said. “A great way to challenge your plank is to challenge your stability.”

Here are some ways to do it: You can try a three-point plank where you alternate lifting one leg or arm without swinging, try a plank march, or plank on an unstable surface like a trampoline or bosu ball. The unstable surface plank is the hardest variation: “This will force your stabilizer muscles to fight even harder to maintain form,” she said.

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Images of Morsa via Getty Images

Instead of trying a weighted plank, challenge yourself with different variations of the bodyweight exercise.

The box jumps

Carmine Ciliento, a fitness manager at Crunch in New York City, said he doesn’t do box jumps, especially high box jumps, and is cautious about doing them even with clients.

“The reason for this is that I feel people often don’t have the proper skills in regards to how to land and don’t necessarily prepare their joints and muscles for the impact they will feel when they land on top of the box,” Ciliento said.

He noted that the skill needed to land a box jump is an oft-overlooked prerequisite that everyone should have when trying to execute the explosive move. You could end up injuring your muscles, joints or even falling if you don’t do the movement correctly.

“TThe risk is not worth the reward for most people in the gym,” Ciliento added.

Ciliento said that deep jumps and standing wide jumps are the best and safest option for most people. With wide standing jumps, you’re leaping forward instead of hopping onto the box. And with a depth drop, you’re using the box, but stepping down instead of jumping, which means your hips and knees don’t have to take on the force created by the jump, he noted.

Back-loaded squats

Shenika King, a trainer at Chelsea Piers in Manhattan, said she avoids weighted back squats.

“I am well aware of all the wonderful benefits of weighted back squats. It is one of the standard compound movements that we should all consider incorporating into our strength training regimen. It improves our overall leg strength, increases muscle mass, and also improves healthy bone density,” he said.

But she finds that this movement has a negative impact on her body. “Heavy back squats [place] a lot of stress on the knees, hips and lower back. This for me causes a lot of joint pain and inflammation.

Some people can avoid pain and inflammation by getting a good warm-up and practicing proper technique, but King said that wasn’t the case for her.

Instead of this movement, she likes to do front squats, “which target the quads, glutes and core muscles and require a more upright posture than back squats, which is beneficial to me because it reduces back pain.”

Also, she likes to use the leg press. “It’s a great alternative to back squats for targeting your quads, hamstrings and glutes and may be easier on your knees and lower back,” King said.

If one of the above workout moves is your favorite exercise, you don’t necessarily have to cut it out — these moves can be great for certain athletes or if you want to achieve specific goals.

“There is no one size fits all in fitness,” King said. But it’s important to understand what might be a safety risk (or just not help you achieve your goal) to make sure you’re moving correctly and doing the workout that’s right for you.

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