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The Most Dangerous Mistakes in Popular Bodybuilding Exercises

“My main enemy is myself.” – Bruce Lee

I am writing about how to do exercises technically in fitness and bodybuilding. But I never told you how it is NOT CORRECT to do them. Today we will analyse the 5 most error-consuming exercises with you, as I am sure that in some of them you will definitely screw up!

When you train with an experienced mentor, you are confident in your technique. After all, if something goes wrong, the coach will immediately react. Self-training is another matter. There is no one here to point out mistakes and they are inevitable, even if you have studied all of the available bodybuilding textbooks. The fact is that people differ anatomically from each other. Limb length, tendon attachment points, proportions. Imagine two antipode athletes in the gym. The growth of the first is 165 cm, the body is approximately equal to the length of the legs, the attachment points of the tendons are shifted from the joints. From the first day in the hall, he was all so plump and square. His friend is the exact opposite, he is 190 cm tall, long limbs, elongated like a reed, and the attachment points of the tendons at the very joints. Both bench presses the barbell, but in different ways. Their anatomy explains why their technique is so different in the same exercise, and the most interesting thing is that both techniques are correct. But almost everything is different such as; the weight of the bar relative to the body, the grip and trajectory, but in both cases, they do the bench technically correct.

This example proves that the correct technique for performing the exercises is a free interpretation of the main recommendations, and no coach, without getting to know you personally, will not be able to choose the optimal technique. In other words, the correct technique is a vague concept. If you train without a coach, then you will have to rely only on yourself. In this case, it is best to learn what mistakes should not be made under any circumstances. That is, today we will have some bad advice, as these mistakes inevitably lead to injury.

The World Champion and the famous Volgograd coach Vladimir Zhadenov helped to understand the intricacies of technology. What I have not seen in the halls and today by personal example will show how NOT to do it. Here are 5 popular exercises that every other athlete makes mistakes in:

  • Behind-the-Neck Lat Pulldown
  • Behind-the-Neck Barbell Press
  • Barbell Back Squat
  • Bent-Over Barbell Row
  • Standing Barbell Curl

These are old school exercises, which is why they are so popular. They can cause people to make a lot of mistakes and not only beginners. Gross mistakes are crippled in them and you need to know what you should definitely not do.

Behind-the-Neck Lat Pulldown

The scariest part of the head deadlift is getting the bar too low, and low is when the bar is below ear level. There is a very unpleasant moment in the deadlift which is an excessive load on the ligaments of the shoulder joints. The human body is not adapted to such movement, because over millions of years of evolution it did not occur to our ancestors to pull themselves up on branches behind their heads. Otherwise, we would have approached the 21st century much more adapted to pulling the block by the head and I would not have written this article. Bodybuilding will likely force a person to evolve, but this will take us some hundreds of thousands of years to rebuild and adapt the body. But so far we have capricious shoulders what cannot stand deep pulls behind the head. Look at the figure, it clearly shows how to correctly and how to wrongly pull the block by the head.


behind-the-neck lat pulldown - wrong


behind-the-neck lat pulldown - right

The correct technique will help you maintain the correct grip. The width of the grip should be such that at the lowest point of the amplitude, your forearms point straight up (they are perpendicular to the horizon).

Behind-the-Neck Barbell Press

The worst mistake in the overhead presses is exactly the same as in the deadlifts. Namely, the barbell is lowered too deep. The correct height is to ear level. Anything below is already concidered dangerous. Look at the pictures:


behind-the-neck barbell press - wrong


behind-the-neck barbell press - wrong - right

Payback for such flaws in technology, are microbursts and inflammation of the tendons of the shoulder joints. This can also lead to tendon rupture and disability.

Barbell Back Squat

Barbell squats are often used to squat on their toes. This is fraught with a whole bunch of possible consequences. But the most successful for fans of comic videos will be your flight nose forward with a heavy barbell on your back, because losing your balance when squatting on your toes is a piece of cake.

Just look at the photo! How unconvincing the athlete looks in the toe squat:


barbell back squat - wrong


barbell back squat - right

Technically correct squats are heel push-ups. Not quite the usual definition, but it best describes the correct squat technique. Take your pelvis back and sit down on your heels. At the lowest point, slow down the movement, then gently stand in the same way on your heels. Toe squats are obtained by those who do not pull the pelvis back, but hold the torso unnaturally upright. In this case, you will not sit down differently. By the way, there is such an exercise called girl squats. These are toe squats, but their technique is completely different and there is no barbell on the back at all!

The second wildest mistake in squats is to bring your knees inward. Look at the photos:


barbell back squat - wrong 2


barbell back squat - right 2

Inward knees combined with a heavy barbell are guaranteed to put you in a wheelchair. When the knees go inward in the squat, this is a clear signal that the bar is too heavy. You must lose weight and improve your technique.

Bent-Over Barbell Row

Let’s start with photos:


bent-over barbell row - wrong


bent-over barbell row - right

See the difference? It is wrong to arch your back with a hump, dump your chest and pull the bar to your chest. Instead of arching in your back, pushing your chest forward and pulling the barbell, as expected, to your stomach. With the wrong technique, the barbell pull has no effect, except for injuries.

To correctly pull the bar to your stomach, grasp the bar with a reverse grip (palms facing away from you). With this grip, the bar will come strictly to the stomach. The grip is about shoulder-width apart. While doing the exercise, keep your back straight and slightly at an angle to the horizon. That’s when you get the barbell thrust to your stomach!

Standing Barbell Curl

Arnold Schwarzenegger promoted to the whole world curling with a barbell and this is the most popular exercise in bodybuilding after the bench press. In half of the photos from the gym, Schwarzenegger bends his arms with a barbell. He considers this exercise to be the best for the biceps and just look at Arnold’s hands to be sure of this.

The effectiveness of barbell curls directly depends on the technique. The exercise is not difficult but the main problem in it is psychological. Beginners imitate experienced athletes and load their barbell without any measure. Curves with a heavy barbell have nothing to do with correct curls. It looks pathetic and not useful.

When the barbell is very heavy, the athlete rests stupidly at the top point of the amplitude. The bar is resting on your shoulders and your torso is pulled back. It looks like this:


standing barbell curl - wrong


standing barbell curl - right

This technique error steals a third of the range of motion of the barbell. The very third that develops the peak of the biceps, its “height”. Look at Schwarzenegger’s biceps, he was famous not only for colossal volume but also for an outstanding peak. Arnold developed it through an additional contraction of the biceps at the top of the flexion. Don’t steal this beneficial exercise phase from yourself, just reduce the weight of the bar.


Now you know what mistakes you shouldn’t make when doing popular bodybuilding exercises, you can begin to train properly with the correct techniques!

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