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6 Most Ineffective Exercises That You Are Doing Right Now

You're killing it! You’re building a healthy body with a steady gym routine and you’re putting in all the time and hard work. Do yourself a favor and don't waste time with ineffective or downright dangerous moves no matter how popular these exercises may be at the gym.

1. Adductor/Abductor Machine:

Not only does this machine look and feel a little awkward, but it’s effectiveness in properly training the inner and outer thigh fails to hit the mark. Firstly, spot reduction does not exist so sitting down to squeeze your legs together for 4x12 to get that cute thigh gap may not be the best use of your time (you may actually be increasing the size of your thighs!) Secondly, the inner and outer thigh muscles are not designed to function from a seated position. Repeatedly forcing your legs to open and close from this position puts a great amount of stress on the hip capsule, IT Band, and priformis muscle, putting you at a greater risk for labrum tears, hip and knee injury, and sciatica- not cute.

2. Side Bends:

Another awkward one that is dangerous and fails to spot reduce. This penguin move of awkwardly flexing your spine laterally puts your back in a very vulnerable position and incorrectly trains your core musculature. The core’s functions is to resist unnecessary movement and stabilize the spine. Performing “ab exercises” with repeated spinal flexion (i.e crunches, stability ball crunches, incline sit ups, any sit ups) not only doesn’t tighten your tummy, but it puts you at risk for herniated discs and lower back pain. Also, working the obliques with side bends could give you a broadened torso instead of the narrow waist you may have been going for.

3. Smith Machine:

Avoid doing ANY exercise on the Smith Machine (bench press, stationary lunge, squats, overhead press, etc.). Although you may feel like you are doing some tough work, this machine does little to advance your results. By using a machine that keeps your body in a fixed position, little balance and core stability is required. This immediately reduces the amount of total work your body is doing making any exercise on this machine less effective. Most importantly, moving your body in a fixed plane of motion is quite dangerous. The joints need freedom to counterbalance the weight naturally, without this freedom of motion the joints are forced into a large amount of shear stress, which can lead to serious injury. For more details check out: The Smith Machine: Is It Helping You or Hurting You?

4. Leg Extension Machine:

This is another machine that puts your body in an unnatural position for movement. As you extend your legs, force is pushing your shins back creating a lot of shear force on the knee joint. From a functional standpoint this exercise is extremely ineffective because it is very rare that you would ever need to extend your leg from a seated position throughout your day let alone with weight. Chronic use of this machine can also lead to muscular imbalances between the quad and the hamstring, which can contribute to knee injury. Also, if you goal is fat burn, you’ll have a tough time accomplishing that from a seated position. Squats and lunges are a far better alternative not only for increased calorie burn, but for a more balanced lower body development. We don’t want to neglect the glutes!

5. Upright Row

The upright row is performed by pulling the dumbbell or barbell up under the chin with the palms facing down and the shoulders rotated in. The aim is to target the deltoids for nicely toned shoulders. While this exercise isn’t necessarily ineffective, it’s not the safest choice. The top position of this exercise puts your shoulder in position for impingement- causing irritation and pain at the rotator cuff. Instead, try forward and lateral shoulder raises for a safe and effective way to tone those shoulders. Other dangerous shoulder exercises include: behind the neck overhead press, behind the neck lat pulldowns, and bench tricep dips. It’s just not worth the injury.

6. Torso Twist Machine:

If you want to shrink your midsection there is no other alternative than eating clean, nutritious foods and getting that metabolism going. This movement results in flexing of the spine and can cause back problems in a hurry. The role of the abdominals (core muscles) are to stabilize the pelvic-lumbar region and control acceleration/deceleration of the spine, not to rotate your hips while sitting down. Unfortunately, you cannot twist your love handles off no matter how many reps you do.

No one walks into the gym expecting to spend all their time just to get so-so results. Get more out of every rep and workout by trading in these ineffective, but ridiculously popular exercises for superior time-saving alternatives.

If you're not sure which exercises are right for you, shoot me an email and I'd be more than happy to help you get started on the right track:

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