That being said, there are a lot of “classic” exercises people stick to that really aren’t doing much for your fitness- either because there is a more effective way to work the same muscles, or the exercise you think is hitting certain areas really isn’t hitting anything at all.
People get a little prickly when you tell them their tried and true favorite anything isn’t working for them- but especially when it comes to messing with someone’s health routine. In fact, in the American Council on Exercise personal training certification manual it flat out tells you if someone isn’t going to hurt themselves, either with exercise or nutritionally, like in the case of supplements and vitamins, let ‘em be. It’s better to not turn anyone off of diet and exercise than try to be right if it really isn’t life and death.
just for fun, let’s take a look at some exercises that people waste a lot of time on, and how it could be better spent in the pursuit of fitness.
Hip Abduction/Adduction Machine: This is a popular machine amongst the ladies, because it promises to slim the inner and outer thighs, a problem area for most women (me included). You can usually find them in the corner, for modesty’s sake, because the motion is spreading your legs (abduction), or closing your legs (adduction) against resistance. The machine likes to tell you that motion works your inner and outer thighs, but it really doesn’t- not primarily, anyway. The hip rotators, the deep muscles that protect the socket joint of your hip, are what control this motion, and while you may feel a burn and are strengthening your hip joint, those muscles do nothing for slimming down your thighs.
If you want to slim your inner and outer thighs, one leg exercises are your best friend, as the inner and outer thighs work hard to stabilize your knee joint. Try bench step ups and single leg squats to really target the thighs. Side lunges are also great for hitting that dreaded saddlebag area. Beginners can do laying leg lifts with a resistance band or a weight held on the outside of the leg for the same effect.
Wall Sit: Wall sits may make sweat drip and your knees shake, but they are an isometric exercise, which means you hold the position, instead of moving the joint and working through a range of motion. What’s wrong with that? Nothing, except that you only become stronger in that position- and how often do you need to hold a 90 degree angle in your knees in real life?
Work your muscles through their full range of motion to gain even strength and muscle tone. Regular squats are the answer to this one- so stick with the classic exercise to give your glutes a boost.
Bench Press: This one is going to get me yelled at, I can already tell, but honestly, when do you ever need to bench press anything? While benching is great for muscle-bound hard bodies interested in building huge pecs (not that there’s anything wrong with that), for the average exerciser, it’s not the most functional exercise- and the same results can be achieved while working other muscles at the same time, in a way that will benefit your everyday activities.
Push ups work the chest just as well as the bench press, while also working the triceps and the core in a way you need to use those muscles in real life. If push ups aren’t hardcore enough for you, place a medicine ball under one hand while doing them, or pop your feet up on a bench for decline push ups.
Again, there are no pointless exercises, but the above exercises can be easily replaced with more effective ones, and who doesn’t want more results in less time?
Do you agree? Are there any other waste-of-time exercises I missed?
image via health-act.net
May 2nd, 2011