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 • 9 846

  • Cat M
    Cat M  13 hours back

    You should use a skeletal model or muscular model to help you show us what you are describing when you are talking about how the shoulder joints are negatively affected in the behind the neck press, and the other exercises.

    • Enrique Chingon
      Enrique Chingon  15 hours back

      Tell Arnold Flys are bad!

      • Kyle Matthews 282
        Kyle Matthews 282  2 days back

        Still doing flys

        • Abdul Basit Ahadi
          Abdul Basit Ahadi  2 days back

          yea!!!... that BTN, that's why I felt knocks in my shoulder when I was training!!

          • Ken Allen
            Ken Allen  2 days back

            Well good bye leg extensions

            • Vegan4Life
              Vegan4Life  2 days back


              • Kairat Kuanyshbek
                Kairat Kuanyshbek  3 days back

                Whoah i Just realised Word '' therapist'' if split apart becomes' '' the rapist''

                • Wong Yang
                  Wong Yang  6 days back

                  Jeff's audition for dragon Hunter 2

                  • Virgilio Villagran
                    Virgilio Villagran  6 days back

                    Love it. I may have hurt my knees by doing those leg raises which I started learning a while ago, are not good for you and this video just confirmed it. Thanks for the advice in all of the bad exercised we've all been doing for years.

                    • Napolion Dynmomite
                      Napolion Dynmomite  7 days back

                      Sting @ 855

                      • Leroy Hines
                        Leroy Hines  1 weeks back

                        Thank you.

                        1. Never did good mornings and i never will
                        2. I always felt like leg extensions did damage to my kness but kept doing them because they were the norm.
                        3. I always do up right rows but now that you have given me this knowledge and the fact that it always felt abnormally hard to do them i will stop.
                        4.i never had a problem with the behind the neck press but wont do them ever again.
                        5. I stop doing dumbell flys a long time ago because I just never felt like i did anything and i also felt like i was going to tear something.

                        THANK YOU BRO.

                        • Kenneth Wood
                          Kenneth Wood  1 weeks back

                          When it comes to rows. What about rows on a machine?

                          • Axel Diaz
                            Axel Diaz  1 weeks back

                            Kenneth Wood just do pendlay rows

                        • Clinton Munn
                          Clinton Munn  1 weeks back

                          Fly's are fine, just be reasonable with the weights that you use. Its nice to finish off your chest after 8 or so sets of incline/flat db press and the stretch feels great! Even with a light weight.

                          • Patrick bennett`
                            Patrick bennett`  1 weeks back

                            Jeff is pretty dam good at selling us athlean x programs. Im not conviinced the leg extension is soo bad for the knee... Ive done em like a million times and my knees have 0 issues.... and im real good at fuckin myself up and hurting some shit. but ive put this exercise to the test... not convinced i need to go buy athlean x programs to be able to know a better option, not convinced the option i was using is bad, thats why sooo many people can do leg extensions just fine. Its never even been something ive heard any one complain about. Il save my money but good sales pitch though.. real good, he threw a whole bunch of smart anatomy words in there even..

                            • VTPSTTU
                              VTPSTTU  1 weeks back

                              The problem with the alternate to flies is that not everyone has that kind of machine. Likewise, the problem with the leg extension alternative is that I can't even figure out what the guy is doing with the weights and the rubber band. I like the idea of doing better alternatives, but I'd like the idea better if they were things that could be done with simple equipment.

                              • Trace Owl
                                Trace Owl  1 weeks back

                                I've just been educated ....thanks again jeff,very much appreciated👍👍

                                • aspi rine
                                  aspi rine  2 weeks back

                                  So many good pro's doing leg extensions I doubt that it is really as bad as he says.

                                  • Dries Dewez
                                    Dries Dewez  2 weeks back

                                    From all the exercises he talks about in this video, I think he is wrong about the leg extensions. I'm a Physio student and very interested in his content. He talks about the risks of all those exercises and I think he has good points, and he knows what he is talking about. If you're just trying to get bigger or stronger, why would you risk getting injured. Especially if there are better alternatives. But the leg extensions is a very very good isolated movement that can be great in a rehabilitation program. "The alternative" he shows is not really the same imo and cannot always replace the leg extensions in a rehabilitation program .
                                    You just have to be aware of the risks of some exercises, but "the worst exercises", a little bit of an exaggeration. My problem with these types of video's I guess..... Nonetheless he makes amazing content, and I recommend all my friends to check his video's for amazing workouts....

                                • Jiggy NYK
                                  Jiggy NYK  2 weeks back

                                  Each like is
                                  1 pushup
                                  1 sit up
                                  1 pull up

                                  Help me out please I'm gonna stop after a week

                                  • Pepper Films
                                    Pepper Films  2 weeks back

                                    3:02 you know Jeff was cringing while doing these

                                    • Richard Aguilar
                                      Richard Aguilar  2 weeks back

                                      He looks way bigger here. He was probably juicing. Juicing always gives you mass

                                      • Richard Aguilar
                                        Richard Aguilar  2 weeks back

                                        BBad Bomb
                                        Why isn’t he that big now. Why does he not have that mass on his shoulders and biceps. Juicing with Testosterone gives you those massive shoulders and bi’s

                                        I would also admit that when you cut fat, it gives the illusion that you got smaller. But this is the biggest I seen him. I wonder why no shirt? 🤔

                                      • BBad Bomb
                                        BBad Bomb  2 weeks back

                                        Richard Aguilar No.

                                    • Jeffery Teeters
                                      Jeffery Teeters  2 weeks back

                                      I love how some of you people know SO much more than a licensed physical therapist and personal trainer based on what you've read, likely on bodybuilding forums. Gimme a break, guys. Any of you ever actually take an A&P Class? I have, and he's right.

                                      • Ori Glantz
                                        Ori Glantz  2 weeks back

                                        When does he got a shirt?

                                        • Doug Brignole
                                          Doug Brignole  2 weeks back

                                          Great advice thank you.

                                          • #sergio
                                            #sergio  3 weeks back

                                            When should we stop going to the gym?
                                            Are we continue trying to get that pump as we age?
                                            Some of us will someday let ourselves go and lose our gains.

                                            I'm high af

                                            • Auricia
                                              Auricia  3 weeks back

                                              I have knee problems and one pt gave me leg extensions to strengthen the knee muscles :\

                                              • MelficeN7
                                                MelficeN7  2 weeks back

                                                I believe he has said that there is fine since you're working with almost no weight.

                                            • Mahdi Menallah
                                              Mahdi Menallah  3 weeks back

                                              What do you call that exercise that replaces the upright Row ?

                                              • Darius Chocobo
                                                Darius Chocobo  3 weeks back

                                                Leg extinctions... LOL

                                                • Tebogo Molatlhegi
                                                  Tebogo Molatlhegi  3 weeks back

                                                  Too much science

                                                  • Austin Smith
                                                    Austin Smith  3 weeks back

                                                    Wait leg extensions helped my tendons tho

                                                    • Blacc Feather
                                                      Blacc Feather  4 weeks back

                                                      The terminator did chest flies why cant we?????

                                                      • Blacc Feather
                                                        Blacc Feather  2 weeks back

                                                        @MelficeN7 well alrighty then.. bad idea!!

                                                      • MelficeN7
                                                        MelficeN7  2 weeks back

                                                        He also had a torn peck a couple of times

                                                    • cynicaloOo
                                                      cynicaloOo  4 weeks back

                                                      I did Flyes and Dips after my bench workout yesterday and my chest amazingly SORE!!

                                                      • Subarashii
                                                        Subarashii  4 weeks back

                                                        Arnold always did dumbbel fly's, he has the most aesthetic body, he said he does this to expend his chest..

                                                        • Jeeses99
                                                          Jeeses99  1 weeks back

                                                          He also had multiple pec tears and was on steroids. Dumbass.

                                                      • Krekács Balázs István

                                                        You could add pullups behind neck and pulldown behind neck. Same negative effects on the shoulders as the exercise you mentioned.

                                                        • Edwin Gonzalez
                                                          Edwin Gonzalez  4 weeks back

                                                          What about leg curls ?

                                                          • Critical Thinker
                                                            Critical Thinker  4 weeks back

                                                            Pre-internet.....I did all of these!

                                                            • Tilburg 013
                                                              Tilburg 013  4 weeks back

                                                              Damn.... I actually am doing these regularly... 😰

                                                              • Nawal Ansari
                                                                Nawal Ansari  4 weeks back

                                                                These happen to be the favorite exercises of trainers in my Gym. Lol! Time to stop listening to them

                                                                • Hobnob Head
                                                                  Hobnob Head  4 weeks back

                                                                  Good mornings are how Bruce Lee screwed his back up, or was it some dude named Johnny Sun kicking him in the back, hmm 😒

                                                                  • David C
                                                                    David C  1 months back

                                                                    I feel more knee problems from bad squat form and especially bad lunge form than from leg extensions.

                                                                    • Juan Cazadore
                                                                      Juan Cazadore  1 months back

                                                                      I'm glad you didn't injure yourself demonstrating these! Thanks for the information!

                                                                      • Dabunny Rabbit
                                                                        Dabunny Rabbit  1 months back

                                                                        shows you what to do, what not to do and why.
                                                                        get it all with ATHLEAN-X

                                                                        • thomas abel
                                                                          thomas abel  1 months back

                                                                          Main reason why people got hurt. Lifting to much to fast, and lifting improperly. Don't blame the exercise for the ignorance of an individual.

                                                                          • Trigger Happy
                                                                            Trigger Happy  1 months back

                                                                            Awww man i love the fly's

                                                                          • Jonathan Garzon
                                                                            Jonathan Garzon  1 months back

                                                                            Overhead snatches, because why not throw heavy weights in an uncontrolled fashion over your head.

                                                                            • jradonabike
                                                                              jradonabike  1 months back

                                                                              Love the video, but what's a good exercise to substitute for the upright rows?

                                                                              • Star Bro
                                                                                Star Bro  1 months back

                                                                                Face pulls

                                                                            • Jimmy Doran
                                                                              Jimmy Doran  1 months back

                                                                              What is your opinion on high pulls?

                                                                              • Jonas zzz
                                                                                Jonas zzz  1 months back

                                                                                Coloca legendado em português

                                                                                • Pitou
                                                                                  Pitou  1 months back

                                                                                  I'm so glad I found this channel.
                                                                                  I've been doing flies and BTN shoulder press for 2 months.

                                                                                  And it usually cause shoulder pain for 2 to 3 days..

                                                                                  Everyone in my gym are doing all of these exercises excluding good morning..

                                                                                  Should I show them this video ??