Just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it’s right, right? It’s true about everything, including what’s going down at the gym. Here are some popular exercises that are commonly done wrong, or just aren’t that good for you to begin with.

The Leg Press

When you use a leg press machine you end up putting an excess amount of stress on your knees and lower back, instead of engaging more of the body and evening the force out. Many lumbar herniations can be traced to this specific machine. Instead of using the leg press machine, try things that engage the whole body but still focus on the legs like isolated lunge jumps, squats with kettle bell dead lifts, and hamstring holds on a TRX band. Working more of the body is once is more effective for burning more calories in the minute, and also for evenly strengthening the body and encouraging balance that makes you look better and also reduces the risk of injury significantly.

Upright Rows

When you are rowing in an upright position you force the shoulders into rotating in a way that just puts a lot of excess force on them. The wrists are also put into a bad position. Instead of the upright row try doing the bent over row. The bent over row strengthens your upper back which balances out the work you do on your pecs and shoulders with your bench press. It might even help your bench press get stronger with all that support.

Basically what you need to do is stand shoulder width apart and lift the bar as if you were going to do a dead lift, and then bend forward 45 degrees and row the weight from that position. Try using an underhand grip to reduce any pinches at the shoulders, or use a very wide grip if you want to work more of the shoulders. Using a t-bar row machine will also help to get you into the proper positioning.

Bench Tricep Dips

When you do your tricep dips on a bench you put yourself into an awkward position. Having your hands behind you can be a strain on your elbows, and all of this compromises the shoulders. You also might be tempted to jut your head out in an unnatural position which can put strain on the back and effect your posture. Instead of doing dips on the bench, try doing pushups with your hands touching in the center, or a tricep extension on an overhead cable.

When you’re doing a tricep pushup, basically fit your hands together in front on you in the shape of a diamond, and dip into the pushup position as normal. You should feel the burn in your triceps pretty significantly. Be sure to always keep your abs engaged so that your core remains stabile which not only prevents strain, but increases your energy levels and strengthens the rest of the body as you go.