With the sequel to “Top Gun” taking off at the box office, I thought I’d work in the signature song title from the original: “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins.
It fits with Mr. America and 2019 Drug-Free Mr. Universe Doug Brignole’s “Exercises that Cause the Most Injuries.” He lists eight, and I’ve done all of them at one point or another—and been injured by at least half of them. Even now, pain from some of those injuries prevents me from doing other sane exercises. Sucks.
Here are the first four; the remaining four will be in tomorrow’s newsletter:
#1: Preacher curl. This is curling with your elbows braced against a slanted bench. The spider curl, with elbows against a totally vertical pad isn’t nearly as dangerous because it doesn’t magnify the stress on your biceps tendon at full stretch. Luckily, I’ve never experienced a torn biceps. Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates has—and it ruined the look of his arm, then he retired.
#2: Overhead press. Almost everyone at the gym does this one, whether it’s using a machine, dumbbells, or a barbell. According to Doug, in his book The Physics of Resistance Exercise, “The overhead press not only causes significant strain to the infraspinatus, it also increase the likelihood of developing impingement syndrome.” My irritated aching right shoulder can attest to that. The behind-the-neck version is even more savage because you torque your arms and shoulder back instead of shifting them more forward.
#3: Deadlifts. These simply don’t work any muscle through the full range of motion and put the spine in a precarious position if the weight is too heavy. Also, your shoulder joints are being pulled down and, if you use an over-under grip, the under-grip arm’s biceps is in danger of ripping from the bone. So injury cost is high, muscle-building benefit is low. Yes, I’ve injured my back with these. If you’re a powerlifter, you have to do them; if not, avoid. Here’s me, arching back nicely to compress my spine like an accordion…
#4: Bench press. Barbell bench presses constrict the shoulders’ freedom of movement and jam the joint back. That contributed to my shoulder problems as I tried to set new PRs during my powerlifting days. The pectorals are also in danger of ripping. Luckily, I never tore a pec—but it happens too often when going heavy. Ask the Flexing Dutchman, Berry de Mey. Tearing his pec on a heavy bench ruined his promising pro bodybuilding career in an instant.
If you’re younger, you may be somewhat wiser after reading this and decide to emphasize each ideal exercise for more muscle size. Or you may continue with the above danger-zone moves and perhaps help an orthopedist pay for his yacht.
Tomorrow I’ll have the remaining four. If you’ve been with us for a while, you can probably guess them—but one may surprise you.
New: Get the ideal exercise for each muscle, the best add-on moves for ultimate mass, complete 35-minute workouts, exercise start/finish photos, and details on building muscle fast and efficiently in Old Man, Young Muscle.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
Former Editor in Chief, Iron Man Magazine
Doug’s analysis and explanations on the science and logic behind muscular movement will show you why many of the so-called fundamental mass-building moves are inefficient time-wasters. Plus, he’ll show you the best alternatives.
Whether you’re a hobby bodybuilder, competitive athlete or personal trainer, this book is a must read, one you will refer to again and again throughout your training career.