No two exercises can have the similar effect. Even, the exercises used for a same body part won’t be identical in terms of effect and impact. For example, take barbell bench press and dumbbell bench press. Although, both are designed to build a stronger and bigger chest, the impact muscles aren’t exactly identical, the barbell press is more of a compound movement, whereas the dumbbell press could be categorized as an isolation exercise.
So, every exercise has its own specific purpose. However, that doesn’t mean that every exercise you do is beneficial for your fitness goals. Some of them are redundant without any specific goals and purposes. Such exercises waste your time and effort. The only thing they help you in achieving is fatigue, which reduces your body’s capability and reduces the effort you can invest in useful exercises. Here, is the list of exercises or exercise routines that you are better off without. We have also listed alternatives for these exercises.
Stationary Bike Warm-up
Yes, the warm-up is very important before any workout. But, the typical five minutes stationary bike ride for warm-up isn’t going to do too much for you. The studies have found that the stationary bike routine often fails short of fulfilling the main objective of the warm-up routine. The warm-up should get your heart rate to at least 60 to 65 percent of your max heart rate (aim for 120 or up). Doing so will raise the core body temperature and will speed up blood and nutrients supply to the muscles. Also, the stationary bike routines fall short of other workout goals, you would probably want to achieve. In terms of calorie burned, it is less effective in comparison to running on the treadmill, which burns 236 calories in 30 minutes in comparison to mere 148 calories burned on stationary bike.
The better way to warm-up is to do series of bodyweight exercises which will have your heart pumping at the adequate rate in far less time. Go for 30 jumping jacks, 15 mountain climbers, 30 bodyweight squats and 10 burpees. Not only, this routine will provide a great warm-up, it is also effective in burning calories.
Machine Leg Presses
The biggest drawback of the machine leg press is that it turns a multi-muscle exercise (squat) into an isolation routine. As your back is in a fixed position during this exercise routine, the range of motion is strictly limited. Also, there is a lack of functionality in this exercise. The natural range of movement of your legs is up and down, side to side, and forward and backward. These series of movements, we use in our daily lives. But, while doing the leg presses, your legs work in only one direction. The stabilizer muscles in your legs and hips are also taken out of the equation, which makes the leg presses more of quad isolation exercise. Another huge drawback of the machine leg presses is that you are more prone to injury while doing this exercise. You often tend to push heavier weight than your legs should carry, leading to back and knee injury. Also, locking out your knees in this exercise puts you at the risk of hyperextension.
Squats. The best exercise ever. This multi-joint exercise employs more than hundred muscles, some work prominently, while other are engaged as stabilizers and supporters. The squats not only develop powerful lower body, they develop overall trunk stability and burn tons of calories. You can start off with bodyweight squats and then move to the dumbbell squats and if you have advanced fitness level, you can load up a barbell on your shoulders as well. For maximum benefit, go low until your thigh bone is parallel to the ground and make sure that the weight is anchored on the heels.
Smith Machine Shoulder Press
The smith machine shoulder press is in this list for the same reason as machine leg press. It restricts the range of motion and makes you move your muscles in an unnatural way. This exercise fixes the movement to up and down plane, which takes away several shoulder muscles from the exercise. As you don’t have to work on stabilizing the weight overhead, means you would be using lesser muscles and would put lesser overall effort. This exercise is only suited for those who have very weak shoulders and want to develop strength or those who want to use this exercise later in the workout for isolating the shoulder muscles. And, even in such scenarios, the smith machine should be avoided as heavy weights can put a lot of strain on the shoulder joint.
You should go for the simple old fashioned dumbbell press. It has the reputation for developing sexy set of shoulders and will get you a better burn. Or, if you are in a mood to try something funkier, go for the Arnold press. It will hit your deltoids hard. Not, just the front deltoids or anterior deltoids, the rare and middle ones as well.
Kettlebell is bodybuilding’s answer to hipster trends. And, the kettlebell swings is one of the most common kettlebell exercises out there. This exercise routine is done by swinging the kettlebell between your legs and then up in front of you, and in some cases up over your head. The problem with this exercise routine is that it uses too much momentum to work your muscles hard enough. And, the problem with swinging too heavy weight that would work your muscles hard enough is that it requires athletic ability and good strength, which usually intermediates and beginners lack. The proper swing motion that is necessary for the best results is difficult to master as well.
The kettlebell swings are predominantly used to tone legs and sculpt front deltoids. Instead, you can opt to do squats and lunges to give your legs a better workout. And, the front dumbbell raises can take good care of your front deltoids. Or, you can do the hybrid / compound exercises such as squats with explosive push press.
Weighted Side Bends
The weighted side bends is regarded as the best exercise to hit the oblique muscles and torch the fat sitting on your waist. In the gym, you will often find someone doing it. It is usually done by standing tall, holding a dumbbell at one side and then crunch towards the side you are holding dumbbell with. Although, this exercise will work your external obliques and could help you decrease the flab, but it will also make those muscles more pronounced and bigger, especially if you lift heavier weight. See, if you are looking to develop a chiseled athletic look, then great go ahead. However, if you are looking to shrink your waist and are looking to just gain regular fitness, then this one is not for you. Another problem with this exercise is that it doesn’t work your internal obliques or rest of the core.
Add a twist on the top of your crunch or go for the side planks to shrink your gut. The Russian twists are also an effective exercise for hitting the obliques. The best thing about this exercise is that it will also work other abdominal muscles including internal obliques and transversus abdominis.
The hip abduction and adduction machine makes you feel incredible as you can lift heavy weight and you feel the serious burn while doing the exercise. However, they are dangerous as your body isn’t designed to make those movements. The muscles that are worked in this exercise routine are mostly used for stabilizing, when you’re standing or moving around. On top of that, the sitting position hampers your ability to perform. In fact, the glutes have a harder time activating while you are in the seated position. The muscles worked in this exercise are more effectively worked in other exercises that works other muscles as well.
If you want to work your inner thighs, the best options are squats and lunges. And, for the outer thighs, the side and lateral lunges are more effective. The lateral lunges will also engage your glute muscles and other stabilizer muscles. By doing the standing exercises, you will be able to engage your abductors more effectively. And, at the same time, you get a great calorie burn.
Machine Leg Extensions
No doubt, when it comes to developing upper thigh strength, machine leg extension is as good as squats. However, the machine leg extensions have a limitation that is often there with all machine related exercises. The range of motion is strictly restricted, which means that it is more of an isolation exercise. And, it is a well-known fact that the isolated movements have a little use in daily functioning and sports performance. Also, the lack of involvement of more muscles in the exercise movement makes it a less efficient and effective exercise in terms of burning calories. So, if your workout objective is to shed the stubborn fat you have accumulated over the winter, then the machine leg extensions aren’t for you.
The usual suspect, squats. As stated earlier in the article, the squat is a multi-joint exercise that strengthens the front and back of your legs, works your glutes and hips muscles, builds explosive lower body strength and at the same time, torches calories more efficiently than any other exercise. Also, the squats are completely functional, which means the movements you do in the gym mimics the way your body moves in your life outside gym.