There Actually Are Stupid Exercises That Should Never Be Done, and Some Are More Common Than You Think

Most people hate conflict.

This is probably a good thing, and it helps to keep spontaneous brawls to a minimum in normal human interaction.

Sometimes, though, we avoid conflict because we don’t want to offend anyone by letting them know our true feelings on a subject matter.

This is totally fine when it comes to politics and religion. I mean, nobody wins when we’re arguing on Facebook about Republican vs. Democrats and their stances on abortion. We’ve all seen that movie a million times, and it isn’t going to win an Oscar.

And there’s no real reason to ruin Christmas by telling Grandma that you think the Bible was written by a couple of guys in a cave on psychedelics. Sometimes it’s just best to keep things to ourselves for the greater good.

But when it comes to training, it’s important for professionals to be honest about best practices. One thing I’m really tired of hearing is the “there are no bad exercises, just some that aren’t right for some people.”

While I admit that the answer to most questions is the ever so sexy, “it depends,” I have a fundamental issue with the idea that there are no such things as bad exercises.

There are.

And a lot of them are really common and are probably getting in the way of your progress. Here are 3 that should be eliminated from your training program yesterday.


I remember about 12 years ago I had my wife and her friend do a bunch of burpees. They both felt stupid, and now I realize how much of an idiot I must’ve looked like looked to the rest of the people in the gym while I stood there watching them flail around.

Sorry babe.

A burpee is a really ugly pushup paired with an ugly squat done with lots of speed and impact on the wrists and shoulders that make people want to throw up.

Soooo, what’s the point, other than getting really tired?

I could chase you around with a stick and get you really tired, instead. Would that get you closer to your training goals?

Instead, you could do perfect pushup variations, load the squats in a number of ways, and then condition separately to actually achieve a training effect, while reducing the chance of needing to see an orthopedic surgeon.

Burpees are a stupid exercise for any person, any time, under any circumstances.

Bench Dips

Bench dips are a quick way to piss off your shoulders. People tend to look at these as a regression from dips on parallel bars or rings, but the reality is they’re just a really poor version of them. The human shoulders just can’t allow you to lower yourself deep enough to challenge the triceps without jamming forward and eventually causing shoulder irritation.

And if you limit the depth to protect the shoulders, then you’re not going to challenge the muscles of the upper body very much, so, again, why are they being done in the first place?

A better option? Pushups. Or dips. Or better yet, pushups or dips on rings.

Most Combination Exercises

Most combination exercises don’t necessarily fall in the dangerous category, they’re just usually a complete waste of time.

If you do a lunge to a curl, then you’re using a load that is not challenging enough for the legs. If you do a thruster, then you’re again not challenging the lower body because you need to keep the load light enough to be able to press it overhead.

There are some combinations that I do like. Reverse lunges alternated with single leg deadlifts comes to mind first, but for the most part, you have to rob one part of the exercise so that you can sufficiently challenge another.

You’d be better served to typically split the exercise up into it’s parts, and challenge each part appropriately.

This isn’t meant to burst anyone’s bubbles, I promise. I just hate to see people waste their precious time and energy on stuff that at best is a waste of time, and worst is actually doing them more harm than good.

Unfortunately, a lot of people think that doing something is better than nothing, but I’d argue if the something that you are doing is going to hurt you, (which is going to make training in any capacity difficult), then no, that’s not true.

Get back to the basics, get stronger on your presses, rows, chin ups, squats, deadlifts, and single leg variations, and leave the circus tricks for the less informed.


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