Ditch These 4 Popular Exercises (do these 4 instead)

bodyweight exercises

When you look around the gym and see people doing these four popular exercises, you probably don’t think anything about it. In fact, they’re so common you’re likely even doing them yourself! But, just because “everybody’s doing it,” doesn’t mean these are good for you. Which exercises am I talking about?

  • Sit-ups
  • Behind-the-Neck Pulldowns
  • Upright Rows
  • Running

Unfortunately, these very exercises could be causing more harm than good! How? With incorrect angles for body alignment, they put additional stress and strain on ligaments and joints. In addition, they allow for only an incomplete range of motion and may be jarring to your entire body, which could be setting you back more than you know.

So ditch these four popular exercises. And more importantly, replace them with these fantastic exercise alternatives for better results without the strain!

Ditch These!

You may be wondering, “Why are these potentially dangerous?!” Here’s why:

Sit-ups—not only can these be bad for your back and neck, they’re really not even that effective. Spinal injuries, pressure on your neck from pulling your head forward, and even undue pressure on your tailbone can all combine for a disastrous situation.

Behind-the-Neck Pulldowns—these can be downright dangerous because they cause what’s known as “external rotation” of your shoulders. Plus, since you’re pulling down into an awkward position, your back is most likely not aligned properly. The extra strain placed on your shoulder joints can cause wear and tear injuries over time.

Upright Rows—if you enjoy the feeling of pinched tendons, then this exercise is perfect. But, if you’d like to stay injury-free, then you’ll want to avoid the “internal rotation” caused by doing upright rows. This exercise has the capacity to impinge your rotator cuff, and that’s no fun.

Running—this is an extremely popular (and excessively jarring) exercise. The potential for injury, both short and long term, is big. Many runners develop joint issues with feet, ankles, hips, and back, especially over time. The extreme force caused by repetitively landing harshly with each step can really increase inflammation and put a lot of strain on ankles, knees, and hips.

Do These Instead!

So, now you know what not to do. The risks versus benefits are just too great. But, if you should be ditching the above movements, which exercises should you replace them with? Here are safer and better alternatives to do instead:

Planks—no, you don’t have to do sit-ups to reveal your abs or strengthen your core. The more body-friendly plank is a much safer alternative to sit-ups. Planks strengthen your core without putting unneeded stress on your back and neck. Add in a healthy diet designed to help you shed body fat, and you’ll be well on your way to carving out a nice strong set of abs.

pull ups

Pullups—while doing lat pulldowns to the front is a great exercise, going for behind-the-neck pulldowns is a bad idea that can easily be replaced by doing pull-ups. Pullups are considered a compound movement, meaning they involve several different joints and muscle groups. You’ll also be able to build muscle more quickly with pullups than with pulldowns—front or back. And, with a myriad of grip variations, you can engage your muscles from many different angles, thus strengthening your back in ways a behind-the-neck pulldown never can. Without the high risk of injury.

Lateral Raises

Lateral Raises—so, you’ve decided to save yourself not only from shoulder impingement injuries, but you’d like to spare your wrists discomfort as well. Great job! But, what can you do to replace this exercise? Try lateral raises! Lateral raises with dumbbells, cables, or bands will help strengthen and build your shoulder muscles, as well as help create that coveted shoulder-width and shoulder “caps” both women and men are trying to achieve with the upright rows.


Walk—so many of us have been taught that we can’t get in good cardio unless you run. Yet it turns out that walking, while a bit more time consuming, can be just as effective as running when it comes to cardiovascular conditioning and weight control. And, you can even enjoy this exercise with friends. Try this gentle form of exercise for cardiovascular fitness and fat loss. Walking is a win-win, and it’s so much easier on your joints.

By ditching sit-ups, behind-the-neck pulldowns, upright rows, and running, and replacing them with less risky alternatives, you can ensure you still get great workout results and remain as injury-free as possible!