Here we go again with another Angry Trainer Top 10!
This time around we’re tackling EXERCISES – more specifically, exercises that I feel are a complete waste of your time.
Yes, all exercises are NOT created equal and while you think any form of exercise is useful, certain machines and movements seem to have been invented simply to prey on people’s desperation to get fit or fix their stubborn ‘trouble’ areas. These exercises mislead users into thinking they’re training specific areas when they’re not – and are pretty much a complete waste of time…
So here we go – in no particular order – my Top 10 Most Worthless Exercises Ever…
#1- The Inner/Outer Thigh Machine - Technically called hip abduction (move away) and adduction (bring together), this gynecological like “exercise” chair has made me feel uncomfortable just looking at it since my early training days. It supposedly targets women’s inner and outer thighs and it does, but minimally. A far better approach for strengthening, toning and training for knee stability is reverse lunges or step-ups.
#2- Chest Fly’s – There is no need to include this risky exercise that overdevelops your front shoulder in any routine. Most people have terrible form, and the machine variety is even more dangerous in my opinion because the weight travels in a fixed path, compromising shoulder integrity. Stick with free weight chest presses and pushups for a natural range of motion alternative.
#3- StairMaster – Maybe back in 1990 Stairmasters were in, but it’s time to step out on this dinosaur piece of equipment. It doesn’t even remotely resemble a natural step, which I believe can lead to some serious knee issues, especially when you hunch over the machine and bounce on it like most people do. If you want to walk stairs for fitness, find a building, a stadium, or even your own home and get to stepping.
#4- Dumbell Tricep Kickbacks – This one is famously marketed to ladies who want to rid excess fat and sagginess from the back of their arms. So do they work? The answer is “no”, you cannot spot reduce, unless you use a surgeon, and in fact this exercise can make your arms bigger by increasing the size of your triceps’ muscles. If you want thinner arms, go on a diet.
#5-Lying Leg Curl – This machine targets the hamstrings, the muscles on the back of the legs. Unfortunately it trains the muscle in a way that is not conducive to how it actually functions in your day to day life. How many people have you seen swinging their legs with butts up in the air? Try different variations of deadlifts for a more effective and functional hamstring workout.
#6- The Leg Press – You know this one, it’s a leg machine that’s either on an angle, flat, or in a vertical position where you press against a weighted pad. The main issue is it places a lot of stress on the low back, can lead to knee injury due to improper foot placement, and generally, as with all machines, is completely non functional. Tried and true squats, lunges, and step-ups are once again a much better choice.
#7-Back Hyper Extensions – This is “sold” as a lower back machine, but what it is in my opinion is a lower back breaker. I’ve cringed watching people for twenty years use it with terrible form, either swinging, bobbing, or going way too fast. So much in fact that I could almost hear the disks in their spine screaming. A more appropriate exercise would again be the ever-versatile deadlift.
#8-Seated Calf Presses – First of all, it does not work your calves, but the muscle that lies beneath called the soleus. I did it for years in my bodybuilding days and in my opinion it stretches out the fascia on the bottom of your feet possibly leading to foot problems later on. Each exercise you use should be beneficial towards your goals so unless you are in rehab for an injury, this one is pointless.
#9- All Abdominal Machines – The purpose of your abs is too pull your spine from a straight, or extended position into a curled or flexed position. All of these machines have the right idea, but use a fixed, unnatural path for movement and suggest using weights to “load” the abs. Over strengthening the abs can result in back pain, and a bulky abdomen. Planks, and V-Ups are much better alternatives.
#10- Dumbbell Front Shoulder Raise – This is worthless for one simple reason – the front shoulder gets enough work from assisting other larger muscle groups in multiple other exercises, so much in fact that it is a commonly over developed part of most trainee’s physiques. Skip the front raises and do a set of rear shoulder fly’s – that’s the area that is truly neglected and needs your attention.
But what do you think? Do you agree with my list above – and if not, why not? What other exercises would you add to the list… start those comments coming…