We all have our list of exercises that we hate, me included. In college, I’d curse under my breath as my track coach ordered “just one more” set of jump lunges, squats, or sprints while dragging a tire behind me. (By the way, “just one more” always meant two more. Not that I’m bitter.)
But after each puke-worthy circuit, as I pitifully limped off to the locker room, I’d wonder: What coach or trainer in his or her right mind would actually do these workouts?
Believe it or not, most of them would. Unfortunately, the most difficult exercises are always the most effective at burning calories and whipping your butt into shape.
We asked a few personal trainers at local gyms to share what exercises they secretly hate, and why they still torture us with them.
1) Bear Crawls
"I hate bear crawls," Balance Gym personal trainer Ben Wiedemer says bluntly. "This is when you drop onto all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders, then rise up onto your feet and move forward or backward at a fast pace." While Wiedemer admits he hasn't done bear crawls since college, "I still make my clients do them, of course, because it's a fantastic full-body movement."
2) The Inchworm
They may look easy, says Balance Gym's Devin Maier, but if you have tight hamstrings, "they're a real pain in the ass." Start in a standing position with legs straight and together, and touch the ground. Slowly walk your hands out while remaining stiff-legged until you are in a plank position (start of a pushup) Once there, you tiptoe your feet forward until you are back in the starting position.
Maier has his clients do this exercise to stretch out their hamstrings and warm up core muscles, but "I definitely sympathize with them when they struggle."
3) Running Alone
"I hate running alone outside," says personal trainer Errick McAdams. "It's boring! I run with clients all the time and love it. But this morning I went for a run [by myself], and I was bored out of my mind."
4) Olympic Lifts
"I have a love-hate relationship with the Olympic lifts," says Balance Gym's Jim Bathurst of the barbell snatches and clean-and-jerk exercises. "They are very technical lifts. Nothing is better than getting into a groove and making a strong lift, and nothing is more frustrating than having an off day and missing everything."
5) Bench Press
"I'd rather do pushups," says McAdams. "The thing with the bench is that to really get the most out of it, you need a spot so you can go to failure. With pushups, you can do them anywhere, and there are a million different kinds you can do."
6) Long-distance running
Doug Murphy of DSM Fitness calls running two miles "pure agony." He did one season of high school cross-country, and by the end he said he looked like "a withered Q-tip that had seen better days." But while he'll always love his sprints more, he still trains a lot of marathon runners and enjoys "working on muscle imbalances and strength and flexibility issues that can hinder performance."