Risky Weightlifting Exercises
Lat Pull-down Behind the Head
The problem: Only people with very mobile shoulder joints can keep their spines straight enough to do this exercise properly. So the move -- done wrong -- can lead to shoulder impingement or worse, a tear in the rotator cuff. And if the bar hits the back of the neck, it could injure cervical vertebrae.
A Safer Lat Pull-down. On the pull-down machine, lean back a few degrees, use a wider-than-shoulder grip, and bring the bar down in front of your body to the breastbone, pulling shoulder blades down and together. Contract your abdominals to stabilize the body, and avoid using momentum to swing the bar up and down. The lat pull-down works the muscles of the upper back.
The problem: Pulling weights, a barbell, or a weighted cabled bar up under your chin is a big no-no because it can compress the nerves in the shoulder area, impinging the shoulder.
Safer Alternative to the Upright Row. Instead of doing an upright row, work your shoulders with a front or lateral shoulder raise, lifting weights out to the front or side of the body.
Military Press Behind the Head
This shoulder move, in which you lift weights or a barbell up and down behind the head, can cause the same problems as the lat pull-down behind the head.
A Safer Military Press Alternative. When doing the military press, keep the bar or dumbbells in front of your head. Stand with the weight no lower than the collarbone and keep your upper body upright. The military press exercise can also be done seated. Always sit straight against a back support, and keep the natural curve in your spine, with upper back and glutes pressed to the chair when doing any shoulder press movement.
Squats on the Smith Machine
The problem: The bar on the smith machine doesn't give, which can force the body into risky angles putting loads on weaker muscles and joints, instead of where the force should be placed (primarily the quadriceps, then quads and hamstrings). positions. Plus, people using the smith machine for squats tend to put their feet farther in front of their bodies when doing squats on the smith machine, which makes matters worse by putting too much pressure on the lower back and knees.
Squats: A Safer Alternative. Use free weights and keep good form. This means standing straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, slowly lower your body, back straight. Move the hips back as if you where going to sit in a chair. Try to maintain your weight directly over your feet, keeping heels on the floor. Lower yourself to about a 90 degree bend in the knee. Slowly return to a standing position.
Lying Leg Press with Knees Bent Too Deeply
The problem: Lying on your back with your feet on a weighted plate, you push the plate up and bring it down, with the aim of working the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. The problem with this exercise comes when you bend your legs too far, which can hurt your lower back and knees.
Lying Leg Press: A Safer Alternative. Properly position your knees and legs so you feel the force on quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes; not the knees and lower back.
About the Author Jeff Behar
Jeff Behar, MS, MBA is a well known author, champion natural bodybuilder, is a recognized health, fitness and nutrition expert, personal trainer, and life coach with over 30 years of experience in the health, fitness, bodybuilding, disease prevention, nutrition, and anti aging fields.
As a recognized health, fitness and nutrition expert, Jeff Behar has been featured on several radio shows, TV, and featured in popular bodybuilding publications such as Flex and Ironman. Jeff's work has appeared all across the web, in books, and in peer reviewed scientific journals.
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