For those who have been training for a while, knowing your way around the gym shouldn’t be a problem — and that includes exercises you should avoid like the plague.

I won’t talk about exercises which obviously don’t work like the shake-weight or vibrating plates or any overpriced equipment promising a roundabout shortcut.

But, instead, I’ll bring up exercises that I personally hate and that you should try to avoid.

Here Are The Worst Gym Exercises

Front Raise

gym exercise front raise
You will look like one of these dudes

It was a toss-up between front raises and tricep kickbacks for the number one spot as the worst gym exercise — but I really despise front raises, be they dumbbell or straight bar.

In my opinion, front raises are literally THE MOST REDUDANT exercise you can ever do.

Assuming you do pressing movements — which you 99.99% of you do — your front deltoids DO NOT need any more work.

The front deltoids are already small muscles and are very prone to overtraining.

If you’re pressing 2, 3, 4, or even 5 plates on the regular, that’s more than enough stimulation for these tiny muscles. Why add the extraneous volume when your time and energy can be spent elsewhere.

My front delts are my most impressive muscles on my body — and I’ve never — NEVER — done front raises in any meaningful capacity.

In fact, I have to sometimes forgo my overhead pressing on some shoulder days to allow my front deltoids to recover from chest day.

Tricep Kickback

Let’s be real: this exercise is about as useful as a chocolate fireguard. Stop wasting your time on it.

Besides, most people, who aren’t bikini models, look absolutely ridiculous performing this exercise.

Edit: I have made another exception to élite competitive skiers.

The elbow is a fragile joint with a fairly limited lateral range of motion. The strength curve is exaggerated at the top of the movement and the kickback is very uncomfortable.

For these reasons, progressive overload on kickbacks is very limited as is muscle growth on this exercise.

You will be far better off replacing this movement with something like a JM Press, Dip, California Press, or basically any other tricep extension.

Calf Raises

This is a personal gripe of mine; calf raises do nothing for me and I tended to get injured when playing sports if I trained my calves at the gym.

If you have poor genetics and need to target these lagging muscles, by all means, knock yourself out and do them at the end of your leg day.

Mountain Dog says that three markers for good genetics are calf, neck, and forearm development. If you have all three, guess what, you’re one of the lucky ones blessed with decent genetics.

Mountain Dog talks muscle-building genetics

Thankfully, I can grow my calves through heavy squats and hiking alone.

I’m sorry if you’re a calflet, but I’m really not fond of this exercise, but it’s a matter of personal preference.

Guillotine Press

While the guillotine press is an actual exercise, I wanted to draw attention to a wider problem with pressing that affects many novices.

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Far too many people flare their elbows when they press, thus limiting their range of motion and wreaking havoc on their upper pecs and shoulders.

Please tuck in your elbows when pressing.

You will be stronger and less injury-prone if you just tuck in your elbows.

Who needs time away from the gym for easily rectified form errors?

I wince whenever a novice or intermediate lifter benches within 80% of their 1RM, elbows flared, and lacking the mobility to touch their chest.

If only they tucked in their elbows.

Edit: We have recently written about the Guillotine Press, which can actually prove beneficial if you keep the weight down and/or do them on a Smith Machine.

Incline Dumbbell presses are a far kinder gym exercise on the upper pecs and shoulders than the Guillotine Press.

Dumbbell Tricep Extension

Again, this is a question of personal preference, but the dumbbell overhead tricep extension, while a good long head builder, doesn’t agree with me personally.

My shoulders ache and crunch while my elbows click and creak whenever I do this gym exercise — which is why I avoid it.

There are dozens of other gym exercises out there one can use as a suitable replacement such as the dumbbell overhead tricep extension, JM Press, Dips, etc,.

Plate Squeeze Press

I don’t actually know the name of this exercise, but I see it quite a lot among guys who are relatively new to the gym press a plate over their chest and head — presumably to further stimulate the inner pecs.

Why do I hate this exercise?

Well, for one, you’re only pressing 45lb — tops. The opportunity for progressive overload is, like with tricep kickbacks, very limited. Trying to sandwich two plates together in an attempt to increase the weight over your face isn’t very wise as it’s not stable and prone to falling.

You can get a pair of dumbbells at the gym or at home and squeeze them together if you want. That way, you can progressive overload safely and hit your inner pecs with more resistance.

Instead, you could try our signature upper chest developer, The Herculean Press.

This movement will hammer your upper inner chest.

Gym: The Herculean Press
How to do the Herculean Press

High-to-Low Cable Crossovers

Again, this is a matter of personal preference as this gym exercise aggravates my shoulders, bicep tendons, and wrists. I have long arms and thin wrists — the only ectomorphic part of my body — which makes this exercise too uncomfortable to perform.

The risk simply outweighs the reward.

I feel that the benefit earned from this exercise is minimal — losing fat and developing your lower pecs through dips, decline bench, and floor flyes is simply a far better way to reveal your male cleavage at the gym.

Again, you can try the Herculean Press to squeeze your inner pecs more effectively.

Too Much Volume on Arm Day

Now that I’m running out of specific exercises, one of my pet peeves in the gym is seeing people train arms for several hours.


Literally 2-3 arm exercises for 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps each a week will suffice — You’re not the late Rich Piana.

If you’re doing compound exercises, you are stimulating your arms.

An arm day or hitting isolation movements following compound movements should be icing on the cake.

The bulk of your arm stimulation should come from compound movements such as presses, dips, pull-ups, and rows.

There’s no need to be at the gym for several hours at a time to get 18¨pythons.

Quad Extensions

This bias definitely comes from my former powerlifting days, but I feel that quad extensions don’t quite do the trick for me.

Having had knee surgery as a boy, quad extensions can irritate my damaged knee, but this is fairly low down on the list due to it being more of a personal prejudice rather than an exercise that has me tearing out my hair when I see people do it.

Any squatting or lunge pattern movements is a far better way to safely add mass to your quads.

Adductor/Abductor Machine

Referring back to what I said about tricep kickbacks being part of a bikini competitor’s training arsenal at the gym, the adductor/abductor machine, again, is, in part, a waste of time as there are far more effective exercises.

If you’re keen to develop these muscles, you should try side lunges, Bulgarian split squats, or any lunge/squat variation for your adductors; and, for your abductors, banded crab walks and sumo deadlifts are a good place to start.

It may just be my prejudice for these exercises, but there are superior methods to hitting this part of the body.

Bonus: Crunch/Lower Back Machine

The ab crunch machine is one that rightfully gets a lot of flak from fitness personalities for two reasons: 1) it’s ineffective 2) it curves the spine and places unnecessary strain.

Rope crunches are far more effective for targeting the upper abs at the gym while relieving pressure on the spine. I, personally, prefer doing hanging leg raises, L-Sit pullups, Ab Wheel roll outs, dragon flags, and windshield wipers to hit my abs.

The other — Lower Back Machine — is fairly pointless because your erectors receive ample stimulation whenever you do most compound movements — especially squats and deadlifts.

However, if you want to hit them, your best bet would be to do weighted back raises on the glute-ham raise machine or reverse hyperextensions if your gym is kitted with such a fine piece of equipment.

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