Generation Iron Most Dangerous Exercises

There’s pain & gain – and there’s too much pain and a broken knee.

The art of weightlifting is dangerous by design. It involves lifting large and heavy objects over your head, behind the back, inward, outward, and every which direction. In the gym, the most injured areas are usually the lower back, shoulders, and knee. Heck, the back and knees alone are often most prone to injury for any adult as they age.

While modern machines have made weightlifting much safer, it is very important to be educated before lifting – as posture and technique are very important in preventing injury. Even still, there are certain exercises that are just more dangerous than others. We put together what we consider to be the top five most dangerous exercises. These aren’t exercises that shouldn’t be done. We simply recommend that extra care be taken with the highlighted workouts below.

1. Bench Press

The Bench Press is one of the most iconic weight training workouts that are performed in the gym. If you see a movie that has a gym scene in it or a workout montage – you are likely to see bench presses being performed.

So it’s not surprising that these are also one of the most dangerous exercises used at the gym. Why? Mostly because amateurs jump right into it wanting to build big pecs without learning proper form. For example, many people wrongfully use a wide exaggerated grip when holding the bar. This puts more stress on the soft tissue on the front shoulder and can cause a tear in your rotator cuffs.

On top of that, you can’t simply drop the weights when you’re done doing a bench press and there is no safety if you suddenly can’t lift that last rep. That’s why you should always have a spotter – and make sure your spotter can lift that mass amount of weight too.

2. Leg Extensions

Leg extensions work out the quadricep muscle, which is that muscle on the front of the thigh. This is arguably one of the most popular exercises for beefing up your thighs. And as the pattern shows – the most popular exercises are often the most inappropriately used.

These are dangerous by isolating and putting your shin in motion. When this happens you run the risk of overextending your knee. The knee is one of the most common parts of the body to be injured within a person’s life. So make sure to protect those knees when doing leg extensions. Never kick your leg or lock your knees when extended – avoid any action that will put unnecessary stress on your knees.

3. Lat Pulldowns

Lateral pulldowns work out the muscle Latissimius Dorsi which covers your outer chest wall. But seeing that lat pulldowns often involve pulling the bar behind your neck – it can lead to a mess of neck and shoulder injuries.

The biggest mistake people make when performing this workout is using a wide grip when pulling down. In truth, the safest way to perform a lat pulldown is to have a tight grip and pull down in the front while keeping your back straight. While there may be muscular benefits by pulling behind the neck – it will always be safest to use this alternative – especially if you already have issues with your rotator cuffs and shoulders.

4. Deadlifts

Dead lifts are great for strengthening your lower back, hamstrings, gluts, calves, and are an essential workout for bodybuilders. The problem with this exercise is that it can lead to incorrect bending of the spine. A damaged spine and its vertebrae are incredibly dangerous injuries and should be avoided at all costs.

So how can we prevent this? The key is to keep your back as straight as possible during the lift. Bend forward at the waist with your arms straight towards the floor. Your spine always has a natural curve to it – so keep as close to that shape as possible as you lift. Bend the knees slightly but be careful not to overextend them as well as this can cause further injury.

5. Squats

Squats are a fantastic way to strengthen your gluts, hamstrings, and quads. But since this is an exercise involving heavy weights while standing – it’s very easy to put unnecessary pressure on the knees. If you squat too far down or waver with your center of gravity, injury is inevitable.

They key to preventing injury with this one is to focus on proper technique. Never squat lower than 90 degrees and always be mindful of where you are actually carrying the weight. If it all goes to the knees you might here a snap down there in the future.


Remember to always perform all exercises with proper technique. No matter how safe an exercise is supposed to be – the end result relies on you. You can’t be the next Mr. Olympia if you are injured for half the year.

What’s the most dangerous thing you’ve seen someone do at the gym? Tell us your stories in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter!


Cover photo courtesy of Return of Kings.


GI Team
The GI Team is here to provide top news and original content for the new generation. The generation of bodybuilders who are pushing the sport to bigger and better places. Join The Movement. Become a part of Generation Iron!