10 Least Effective Exercises to Avoid

 Sorry to tell you, but some exercises are just plain useless and may even be dangerous. They are inefficient, have a high risk of injury and provide practically no benefit for the time and effort expended on them.

So why do we do them?  Because we are looking for the quick and easy solution to our problems and “trouble spots”.  Unfortunately, that leads to a lot of wasted time at the gym that could have been put to better use to actually reach your fitness goals.

A basic rule of exercise that tends to get ignored is: “if you work a muscle, it will get bigger, not smaller”. Ask any bodybuilder how he gets his muscles so big and he will tell you he works them a lot and he works them hard. So how could some exercises magically do the opposite, and reduce the areas they work? Well, they can’t. But, ask the guy on the ab bench doing 100+ sit-ups, or the ladies on the inner/outer thigh machines what they are doing, and they’ll say they are reducing those areas.

Sorry, but there is no machine or exercise that can “spot reduce” a specific area. You reduce by burning calories, not by working a certain muscle. So stop wasting your time on ineffective exercises, and start a good solid exercise program with proper cardio exercise, resistance training and nutrition. 

So, here it is.  A list of 10 exercises that I consider to be the most ineffective time wasters of all.

1. Hip Adductor Machine: (inner thighs) In this machine, you sit with your legs spread apart and place the inner part of your thigh against a pad. You then push your legs together. The goal here is to reduce your inner thighs. This exercise will not do that. And, it trains the inner thigh muscles while your hips are in a flexed position (seated). You would never do this movement in daily life.

2. Hip Abductor Machine: (outer thighs) The abductor machine is the opposite of the adductor. Here, you sit in the machine with your legs together and place the outer part of your legs against a pad. You then push your legs apart, in the hopes of reducing your outer thigh. The muscles pushing the legs outward accomplishes very little for the outer thigh. Again, the seated position is very unnatural for this motion.

3. Seated Rotation Machine, Standing or Bent-Over Twist: Ever see someone in the gym with a broomstick on their shoulders twisting endlessly from left to right, thinking that twisting for hundreds of reps will shrink their waist and get rid of those love handles? While this may be an effective warm up exercise, it provides no slimming effect. Done incorrectly, it stresses the spinal erectors and ligaments. And the seated rotation machines are downright dangerous. You’ll see people twisting left and right on these machines for hundreds of repetitions. It does nothing to shrink the waist, but it can place a great deal of torque on the lower spine. 

4. Upright Rows: For this exercise, a barbell is grasped with the hands a few inches apart, palms facing the body. Standing in an upright position, the bar is pulled straight up to the chin. The objective is to strengthen the deltoid and upper trapezius muscles (shoulders and back at the base of the neck). But, this motion places far too much stress in the wrists and the very sensitive rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder and can easily cause injury.

5. Side Bends: Grasping dumbbells and bending side to side hoping those love handles will shrink away is another time waster, and this exercise can put undue stress on the lower back. The only thing that’s going to reduce those love handles, or any other trouble spot, is reducing overall body fat through cardio exercise, resistance training and good nutrition.

6. Behind The Neck Lat Pulldowns: This cable pulldown movement, or any behind the neck movement, puts unnecessary stress on the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulders. The impingement caused by this movement can easily cause damage to the shoulder joint over time. 

7. Shoulder Press Behind Neck: Lifting an object overhead from behind the neck isn’t an everyday (functional) movement. It is a very unstable position, and can easily lead to pain in the shoulder and major rotator cuff injuries. The shoulder joint is extremely complex and easily prone to injuries from this kind of movement.

8. Straight Legged Sit Ups and Laying Leg Raises: These exercises put a lot of stress on the lower spine, and the jerky movement that is usually required to lift the torso or legs from the floor can result in injury. It is very difficult to stabilize the lower back during these movements.

9. Any Abdominal Machine: Most ab machines allow you to cheat with your legs, arms and shoulders. They make it very hard to get a good ab workout. If your arms, shoulders or hips flex during the exercise, you will not be working your abs properly. Crunches on a Swiss ball or “bicycle” crunches on the floor are probably the best ab exercises, but it is important to use the proper form or they are not very effective either.

10. Cardio Exercise for More than 45 Minutes: Your cardio should generally have you working between 65 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. As your conditioning improves, work towards the 85% mark. If you are performing cardio for more than 45 minutes at this level of intensity, you are probably going to begin losing muscle mass. And that is the last thing you want to do. You want that muscle around to burn calories.

So, spend your time getting the maximum results from your exercises. And remember, don’t waste your time trying to spot reduce a trouble spot. Do the most efficient exercises that will strengthen and tone all areas of your body. Then, let the combination of proper nutrition, cardio exercise and resistance training burn away that unwanted fat.

Do you have your favorite exercises that you do for every workout?  Well, let's face it, some of them may just be a waste of your time.  Are you getting the most out of every workout, or are you just going through the motions with ineffective exercises? Find out which exercises you should leave out to speed up your results.

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