All exercises are not created equal.
You probably already knew that. But what you may not know is that certain exercises you love to do at the gym actually aren’t worth the work.
“Technically, all exercises work, but you don’t have all the time in the world at the gym,” says personal trainer Errick McAdams. “There are a lot other things you can be doing that would be time better spent than these exercises.”
Read on for seven moves you should skip next time you work out.
1) The Adductor and Abductor Machines
A popular exercise machine among women, the adductor and abductor machines work the inside and outside of thighs. However, doing multiple reps of this over and over won’t magically burn off fat. You’re better off doing squats or cardio, or using the leg-press machine instead.
2) Dumbbell Side Bends
Think holding dumbbells and leaning from side to side will get rid of those love handles? Think again. This exercise isn’t hard, won’t make you sweat, and doesn’t burn calories, so there’s no point, says McAdams. In fact, you’re likely to increase muscle mass, eventually thickening your waist. It’s better to up the cardio and eat a healthy diet instead.
3) Lat Pulldowns Behind the Neck
McAdams calls people who do this at the gym show-offs. “It just proves you’re flexible,” he says. Plus if not done properly they can cause injury, adds trainer John A. Morris: “They’re extremely bad for your shoulders and usually result in shoulder impingements or rotator cuff injuries.” Instead, stick with front lateral pull-downs, imagining that you’re closing a window while performing the exercise.
4) Torso Twist With Bar Across Shoulders
Holding your stomach tight and twisting from side to side while placing a bar or broomstick across your shoulders will not give you abs. Since it only works one small muscle group and you’ll hardly burn any calories, “it’s a waste of time,” says McAdams.
5) Situps With Feet Held Down
Almost every high schooler had his or her feet held while doing situps for the President’s Council on Fitness test. Those days are gone, says Morris. If you can’t do a situp by keeping your feet on the ground, don’t force it, as it can be bad for your lower back and put stress on your hip flexors. McAdams adds that you should work to make your core stronger so in the future you can do situps on your own. But don’t force your body to do something out of a range of motion you’re not comfortable with.
6) Ballistic Stretching
“It’s extremely bad for joints, tendons, and ligaments,” says Morris. You’re better off performing static or stationary stretching and holding each for 20 to 30 seconds–after warmup and during cool-down. Also note that neither ballistic nor stationary stretching is recommended when your body isn’t fully warmed up.
7) Head-Bobbing Crunches
Crunches alone won’t give you a six-pack, especially if you don’t do them correctly in the first place. Use your abdominal muscles to do crunches, not your neck or head. And as we learned when it comes to getting a flat stomach, it takes more than just doing 1,000 crunches a day. Focus on exercises that will raise your heart rate and make you sweat; crunches and situps will help define that six-pack once you have it. (For a full guide to getting six-pack abs, click here.)