It is common knowledge that the biggest bodybuilders don't always make the best trainers. After all, they are the genetic elite and didn't have to work very hard to build the muscle they have.
The same can be said for muscle building exercises. Just because a movement is popular doesn't mean it's the best lift for packing on pounds of beef.
The following 8 exercises might be popular, but are actually the 8 worst exercises for long term muscle building, health and fitness. Let's take a look at why.
1. Worst Exercise - The Bench Press
The bench press is like the atomic bomb of the muscle building world. It has destroyed an immeasurable number of shoulder girdles. Even when using perfect form, you are compromising your elbows, wrists and rotator cuffs.
Avoid the bench press at all costs.
2. Worst Exercise - Bicept Curls
Big bicepts are built with rows and pull ups, period, end of story. Anyone that tells you differently is living in a bro fantasy land.
All forms of bicepts curls are good for one thing, and one thing only - giving you elbow tendonitis.
3. Worst Exercise - Squats
Everyone knows that squats destroy the knees. The further down you squat, the more risk you incur. The only sane alternative is to use half-squats or quarter-squats, both of which require a ridiculous amount of weight. This makes them a dangerous choice as well.
Stick to leg extensions or Smith machine squats. Both of these movements are very knee friendly.
4. Worst Exercise - Deadlifts
This choice is a no brainer. Just as squats are bad for the knees, deadlifts are twice as bad for your lower back. Heavy deadlifts are rarely safe, except for the very small percentage of lifters born with a Herculean-strong posterior chain.
Strongman Jón Páll Sigmarsson once said: "There is no reason to be alive if you can't do the deadlift." A more truthful quote would have been: "There is no intelligent reason to do the deadlift." If you keep deadlifting you'll end up hunched over, walking with a cane.
5. Worst Exercise - Overhead Press
Shoulder work is...well...idiotic. The human shoulder girdle is as fragile as glass. We are not designed as human beings to press heavy objects over our heads.
Unless you desire several shoulder surgeries before the age of 50, stick with side and rear lateral raises.
6. Worst Exercise - Bent Over Rows
Let's see, where do we start with this movement? Does bending over at the waist and lifting a heavy barbell sound like a sane, back-friendly choice to you? Absolutely not. Save your lower back and use machine rows and lat pull downs instead.
7. Worst Exercise - Dumbbell Flyes
Just like the bench press, the dumbbell flye places your shoulders in a precarious position. Spend a number of years performing dumbbell flyes and you are sure to pick up a shoulder impingement or two.
8. Worst Exercise - Any Abdominal Movement
And we stress - ALL abdominal exercises are inherently dangerous. ALL OF THEM. Abdominal work and lower back work requires training balance. Because of this even a minimal amount of lower back work is dangerous, not to mention bad for your spinal column. For this reason all abdominal work should be avoided as well.
Even the most trivial amount of abdominal work creates a muscular imbalance in the core, weakening the lower back and increasing incidences of spine-related issues
Conclusion - Which Exercises Are Best?
Stick with machine exercises. They provide the most overall stability, increasing rewards while reducing risk of injury. Avoid barbell and dumbbell exercises when possible, along with all bicepts and abdominal exercises.
If you do this while focusing on keeping the weight the same, you will shock your body to new levels of muscle confusion.
In fact, your will be so confused that you might not realize....