Strength training is a great way to stay in shape and even recommended by most health care professionals as the perfect weight loss method, but newcomers and experienced trainers alike should practice safety when working out.

Common mistakes made by gym-goers that often lead to strains or significant injuries include: all-or-nothing approach, unbalanced strength-training programs, bad form, not progressing, not enough variety, not adjusting machines to one’s body size, focusing on anything but your workout.

Our risk for injury at the gym is also highly dependent on the type of exercises we’re performing. Read on to learn the gains-stifling moves that are holding you back and the exercises you need to sculpt thighs and an upper body that is Wolverine worthy…

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Don’t do leg extensions:

Avoid because… Leg extensions can grind the knee joint and put connective tissues into compromised positions. The isolated nature of the movement can shut off the proper activation of certain muscles while placing excessive stress on muscles meant to be used in conjunction with prime movers.

Do instead… squats:


Squats recruit more leg musculature and help it to fire appropriately under realistic conditions that an athlete or weekend warrior may face. The coordination skills necessary for proper muscle firing are crucial for protecting the knee against injury.

Related article: Why Front Squats Are Essential For Powerful Quad Activation

How to:

  • Stand with your feet more than shoulder-width apart and hold a barbell across your upper back with an overhand grip – avoid resting it on your neck.
  • Hug the bar into your traps to engage your upper back muscles.
  • Slowly sit back into a squat with head up, back straight and backside out. Lower until your hips are aligned with your knees, with your legs at 90 degrees – a deeper squat will be more beneficial but get the strength and flexibility first.
  • Drive your heels into the floor to push yourself explosively back up. Keep form until you’re stood up straight: that’s one.

Don’t do upright rows:

Avoid because… Upright rows are one of the most widely recognised exercise moves you will see on the gym floor. Aimed at targeting the shoulders and upper back, they can cause shoulder problems for many trainees. Neck and biceps tendon pain are also a risk if the move is repeatedly executed with poor form.

Related article: The Beneficial Bench Press Guide To Build Your Chest And Increase Your Press!

Do instead… barbell hang clean & presses:


They provide the same stimulation as upright rows with far less risk of injury or muscle pain.

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How to:

  • Squat down with a straight back and grab the barbell with an overhand grip.
  • In one swift movement, lift the barbell to your shoulders and sink back down into a squat.
  • Push up through your heels and extend your arms to press the barbell above your head.
  • Lower safely to your shoulders and drop back to the floor while maintaining a straight back.