4. The Ab Exercise That Can Be a Real PainThe move: Bending sideways with dumbbells
The risk: Wright often sees people head straight for the 10- or 15-pound weights when doing this move for the first time. Unless your obliques are already strong, she says, you're likely to compensate by hyperextending your back (and the lower back tends to be one of the most injury-prone parts of the body).
The fix: Wright has patients put their hands on their hips and tells them to tense up like they're about to get a punch in the gut. Now that you can feel the muscles you're trying to work, lean to one side without leaning forward or backward. "Focus on isolating and working these muscles with just your body weight for resistance," she says. There are also plenty of other ways to work your obliques without weights.
5. The Common Exercises That Defeats Even Military TroopsThe move: Power cleans (and variations like the clean and press and clean and jerk)
The risk: These bodybuilder barbell lifts are pretty standard in CrossFit classes, but they're very technical and require the precision (if not the strength) of an Olympic weight lifter. The military recently noted a surprising number of injuries from power cleans in CrossFit, Gym Jones Insanity and P90X sessions, resulting in lost duty time, medical treatment and rehab.
The fix: Try cleans only under the supervision of a professional trainer or coach, who can scrutinize your form and help you select the appropriate weight. Instead, you can work your legs and hips with basic squats while holding a barbell across your shoulders, says Shirley Archer, a certified fitness expert and the author of Weight Training for Dummies. To work the upper body, she says that a stationary overhead press, in which you lift the bar from the shoulders to the ceiling, is safer than lifting it from the floor to the chest and then to the ceiling. (But that move also has risks—see below.)
6. The Lift That Throws People OffThe move: Overhead lifts
The risk: Anytime you lift a heavy weight over your head, you risk hurting your back, says Stephania Bell, a physical therapist and ESPN sports injury analyst. A common mistake is changing posture and arching the back to gain momentum. "If you're swaying back and forth, the weight is too heavy," Bell says.
The fix: Tighten your abs to control your posture, says Bell, and engage your leg muscles as well as your arms and core. Keep in mind that most injuries happen when the body is tired. That's why you might want to think twice before doing weight moves in an indoor cycling class, where balance and form are key. "Even lifting light weights while riding can put your lower back at risk," says Josh Taylor, an international master Spinning instructor. He suggests pushing yourself to the max during your cardio routine and saving the weights until you get off the bike.
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