Useless Exercises You’d Do Well to Avoid

Are you spending a lot of time at the gym and seeing far less results than you’d like? Perhaps you’re going about it all wrong and doing exercises that are just wasting your time. See if any of the useless exercises listed below are on your workout list–and, if so, stop doing them!

Smith Machine Squats

Why use a machine to squat when you can just use your own body weight and a barbell? It’s much more efficient to squat WITHOUT the machine to guide you, and it will increase the amount of work done by your hamstrings–the muscles so often ignored in training.

Dumbbell Kickbacks

For those who are serious about building strength, most isolation exercises are a waste of time. Dumbbell kickbacks are one of the worst. They don’t build any kind of functional strength, but just make you think you’re building bigger triceps muscles. You’re better off doing exercises that engage the triceps along with other muscles, such as Dips or Push-Ups.

Leg Adductor/Abductor Machine

This is the single most awkward machine to use in front of other people, because your legs are wide open. This machine is used because you’re trying to build stronger hip muscles, but you can do that with many other exercises. This is an exercise you’d do well to skip.

Bicep Curls

This may sound like blasphemy, but the truth is that doing a lot of curls alone isn’t going to give you big arms. You need to mix it up by adding pull-ups and other “pulling” exercises that work your shoulders along with your arms. Curls are an isolation exercise that just doesn’t pack the same punch as an exercise that works multiple muscles at the same time, so you’d be better off doing other exercises that hit your biceps.

Two Dumbbell Side Bends

If you’re going to do side bends, do them with just one dumbbell–not one in each hand. If you have a dumbbell in each hand, there is a counterbalance to the weight you are currently lifting, which makes the exercise easier. Do it with weight on just one side, and you’ll feel the difference!

Standing Chest Flys

Most people think of this as a wicked chest exercise, but they’ve got it all wrong. The fact that you’re standing means that all of the weight is on your shoulders. Your chest isn’t being worked at all, and you’re just cheating on Shoulder Day. If you’re going to do flys for your chest, they MUST be laying down.

Russian Twist

This exercise may seem great for your abs and obliques, but it could actually be placing undue pressure on your spinal muscles. The fact that you are twisting from side to side can lead to spinal strains, which could eventually turn into lower back injuries. If you want to work your core, stick with exercises like Plank and all of its glorious variations. You need to be careful with your core muscles, as they are the ones that are easiest to injure.

Most Machine Exercises

If you are spending a lot of time working with machines, it means you’re only working in a single dimension. Your body moves in three dimensions, which is what makes free weights so much more effective than machines. There are some machines that are effective, such as the cable machine (your muscles have to work hard to keep your movements controlled, and the tension on the cable keeps your muscles in a constant state of contraction). But, instead of doing the leg press machine, the Smith machine, or any sort of chest machines, ALWAYS go with free weights.


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