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The 5 Most Dangerous Exercises

01dragonslayer

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Get Shredded!

…And Some Better Options​

Injuries kill workout consistency. Avoid these high-risk exercises and replace them with smart moves that are even more effective.

Dangerous Exercises: Low Benefits, High Risks​

No exercise is completely risk-free, but some are riskier than others. If you’re not considering the risk-to-reward ratio, you’re failing to consider a crucial aspect of good training: making every effort to prevent injury.

I never program the following exercises because the risks far outweigh the rewards, even when done with good form. Despite their popularity, none of these exercises are needed to improve your physique or performance in most sports. Sure, a couple of these must be trained if you’re a competitive powerlifter or strongman, but that’s probably not you.

1. The Heavy Mixed-Grip Deadlift​



Deadlift
Deadlift1240×698 264 KB



Don’t use the mixed-grip deadlift when doing sets of your 6RM or heavier. The chance of biceps injury on the underhand side is just too high.

This was verified in a 2021 research paper about deadlifts and biceps tendon ruptures. (1) The researchers performed a search on YouTube using the terms “distal biceps tendon rupture” and “distal biceps tendon injury” combined with “competition,” “deadlift,” and “powerlifting.” The videos underwent an evaluation for accuracy by three surgeons.

Among the videos reviewed, 35 injuries were found appropriate for an evaluation, and 25 were observed during the deadlift. Only in one deadlift injury were both forearms in supination. In the remaining 24, injuries occurred in the mixed-grip position, with ALL the biceps ruptures occurring on the underhand (supinated) side.

This isn’t a large sample size, but when 24 of the 25 injuries are occurring with the mixed grip, the pattern is pretty predictable. The odds are stacked against lifters who use a mixed grip for heavy deads.

What To Do Instead​

Use a normal, double-overhand grip. Add wrist straps if grip strength is the limiting factor.

If you ARE training for a powerlifting meet, you can justify doing some mixed-grip deadlifts for your 1 to 3 RMs if that’s how you plan to lift in competition. Just know the risks and alternate supinated hands in practice.

2. The Preacher Curl with Full Elbow Extension​



Preacher Curl
Preacher Curl1240×698 264 KB



I’m a huge fan of preacher curls because they strengthen the biceps in the lengthened strength zone. But I never allow people to fully straighten their elbows at the bottom of the rep, no matter how light the load. The risk of biceps injury is too high.

What To Do Instead​

Don’t lower the bar or dumbbells all the way down. Keep roughly a 15-degree angle at the elbow at the bottom of each rep. Make sure you can stay in control of the weight and stop before your elbow fully straightens, even if that means lightening the load.

Also, when using medium to lighter loads, don’t go to complete failure. The accumulated fatigue can also cause you to lose control of the eccentric or lowering portion of the rep.

And remember, research shows that going to complete failure isn’t needed for muscle gains. You just need to get close to failure at the end of each set (2).

3. The Tire Flip​



Tire Flipping
Tire Flipping1240×698 230 KB



Tire flips, once relegated to strongman competitions, have started to turn up in boot-camp-style classes and other “functional fitness” gyms. Not good.

A study on strongman competitors found that tire flips are the most dangerous of the following events (2):



Strongman Injuries
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Skilled strongman competitors experienced the highest injury rates doing tire flips. If it’s risky for them, it’s even riskier for non-strongman competitors.

What To Do Instead​

Tire flips are basically an awkward deadlift. So just stick with standard deadlifts, trap-bar deadlifts, and single-leg deadlifts to strengthen your posterior chain.

4. The Yoke Walk​



Loaded Carry
Loaded Carry1240×698 330 KB



The chart above also shows that the yoke walk is the second most dangerous strongman event. And again, yoke bars are getting more popular with average lifters and even some trainers. Having non-strongman competitors carrying a heavily loaded frame has never made sense. It doesn’t have a direct carryover to any field, court, or combat sport. And it’s a totally unnecessary risk as a general fitness exercise.

What To Do Instead​

The appeal of doing strongman events? They’re cool looking and create a unique workout challenge. But if you’re looking for a way to spice up your workouts while walking with weights, there are far less risky options, like standard farmer’s walk variations 129, advanced loaded carry drills 96, and sled work 54.

5. The High Box Jump​



Box Jump
Box Jump1240×698 277 KB



I absolutely program box jumps. They’re one of the best ways to train leg power safely. What I don’t program is HIGH box jumps. They’re incredibly risky and don’t increase your ability to jump higher. High box jumps get misused when the emphasis is on the height of the box instead of the height of the actual jump.

Stand next to a high box the same height as your waist. Now pick one leg up off the ground and flex your hip as high as you possibly can. The distance between the bottom of your foot and the top of the box is the actual height you’d have to jump to get on top of that box. The rest is just hip flexion.

What To Do Instead​

Use a box that’s no higher than knee height. Jump as high as you can without allowing your knees and hips to bend (flex) more than about 20 degrees when you land. This is safer because there’s little risk you’ll miss the jump or fall. And it’s more effective anyway.
 
Great Post...
I'd include..
Heavy Upright Rows..
They destroyed my neck..@185lbs
Z...
That’s serious weight Z. I do my rows on a cable machine these days
 
I’ve seen Crossfitters do an exercise called barbell overhead squats. That looks like it could wreck your body if done wrong
 
I’d add flat bench. Probably more shoulder injuries with flat bench than any of these.
 
Great Post...
I'd include..
Heavy Upright Rows..
They destroyed my neck..@185lbs
Z...
I've done heavy underhanded barbell rows and that pulled my left arm apart when it slipped and tried grabbing it. Bad idea...frayed the tendons. Took months to rehab the arm.

@01dragonslayer thanks for sharing this one, as too many exercises can be dangerous if not done right. I've done my share of these as well...
 
Nice article,glad to see I do none of those...
We did box jumps from Jr to high school..saw many guys hurt them selves..
I've seen many kids at my gym jump onto some obscenely high boxes and that made me cringe too
 
Mixed grip deadlift or shrugs = bicep tear.
Vertical leg press = Hello spinal injuries.
 
Mixed grip deadlift or shrugs = bicep tear.
Vertical leg press = Hello spinal injuries.
Vertical leg press...forgot about that one, and basically you are lying on your back pushing up the bar with your feet. That in itself puts pressure on your lower back, and with my DDD, cannot even do those anymore (my doc warned me about that). For leg press I'd use the 45 degree or the horizontal ones.
 
I’d add flat bench. Probably more shoulder injuries with flat bench than any of these.
A good reason why I gave up barbell flat bench, because I messed up one of my shoulders going really heavy and getting greedy. I now do neutral grip swiss bar or dumbbells
 
A good reason why I gave up barbell flat bench, because I messed up one of my shoulders going really heavy and getting greedy. I now do neutral grip swiss bar or dumbbells
It’s rare to meet someone above 40 who has bench pressed since starting weight lifting and not had a rotator cuff injury.
 
It’s rare to meet someone above 40 who has bench pressed since starting weight lifting and not had a rotator cuff injury.
I'm almost 59 and this RC injury I sustained 2 years ago and damaged the RC in my other shoulder 10 years prior, so yeah that's very true. I was lucky I didn't have a total tear just very small ones.
 
Get Shredded!
A good reason why I gave up barbell flat bench, because I messed up one of my shoulders going really heavy and getting greedy. I now do neutral grip swiss bar or dumbbells
I've greatly reduced it. I mostly do dumbbell everything for bench these days!
 
Lord, I remember doing squat jumps with as much as 225lbs lol. If you don’t know what those are it’s probably for the best. I played basketball in HS and we literally did these routinely to increase our explosive strength and improve vertical leap lol.

Heavy, behind the neck presses are stupid too because you almost always learn the hard way by going too low and separating a shoulder that will haunt you for life lol.

Hack squats seem shady to me too. I’m a fan of low bar back squatting with solid form for the prime leg builders. Hack squats just feel dangerous to me.
 
Lord, I remember doing squat jumps with as much as 225lbs lol. If you don’t know what those are it’s probably for the best. I played basketball in HS and we literally did these routinely to increase our explosive strength and improve vertical leap lol.

Heavy, behind the neck presses are stupid too because you almost always learn the hard way by going too low and separating a shoulder that will haunt you for life lol.

Hack squats seem shady to me too. I’m a fan of low bar back squatting with solid form for the prime leg builders. Hack squats just feel dangerous to me.
Going really heavy on hack squat is what's risky and also harder on your back. I do them at 225lbs for as many as I can which is the most I can really tolerate.
 
It’s rare to meet someone above 40 who has bench pressed since starting weight lifting and not had a rotator cuff injury.
I still do flat BB press at 48yo but never a weight I can't do at least 7 unassisted reps with & no forced reps. Instead I do rest pause 15-20seconds for added intensity.
 
Barbell Good mornings are risky especially with heavy weight.
I love barbell goodmornings and I max out at 185lbs on that before my back complains and average working set weight is 135lbs.
 
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