Avoid These Ineffective Exercises
by Jackie Burgmann, creator of "Hot at Home" - The Transformation Solution for People Who Hate The Gym
It's true that getting SOME exercise is definitely better than getting NO exercise.
And while some might argue that there is no WRONG way to exercise (as long as you're being safe and using proper
form), and that it's more important to just GET MOVING (which I tend to agree on), there ARE exercises that just
aren't as effective as others.
We're all very busy people with a limited amount of time to devote to our fitness regimes, so use your valuable time on more effective exercises than these.
So, when you're deciding what to do for your next workout, be prepared with this little list of exercises that are best to avoid and replace with something more effective.
1) Any stair stepping machine that mimics climbing a stairwell but doesn't require you to actually climb anything.
Climbing stairwells is awesome for a great cardio workout. You can choose steady state cardio if you have access to a huge stairwell at home, work or outdoors, just hit the bottom and climb to the top floor. Or you can do intervals if you only have a few flights to work with, run up, walk down, run up, walk down, and mix up how many floors you run up and walk down. You can even do this with just one little flight.
>So, why is stair climbing on a stepper machine ineffective?
Because they HELP you do the movements.
The foot pad that’s coming UP while you’re driving one foot down is helping you bring that other foot up. You're taking a ride more than you're actually climbing anything.
Plus they have these nice little railings to hang on to, which most people will automatically hang on to (or even lean over the console), which removes the majority of the upper body work they could be doing.
At the very least, if one is available to you, use one of those revolving step machines where a real staircase rotates and you have to climb it without anything driving your lower foot up. But keep your hands off the railings if you want this to be truly effective. Make sure you work your upper body, too.
Plus, did you know that functionality for going DOWN staircases tends to decrease with age? So if you can choose to travel downwards during your workout, either on a real stairwell or a revolving machine, then do so! Keep yourself fully functional as you head towards your later years.
While the elliptical is a bit better for a full body workout, for the most people, they just get a rhythm going and then ride out their entire workout, letting the machine do almost all the work for them.
And just like on the stairstepper, all they're doing is going for a nice little ride on the darned thing.
It is possible to get a good cardio session done on an elliptical but you really have to be pulling HARD with your arms and stepping hard with your feet to make an elliptical session into a decent workout.
Tip: if you can read a magazine while you're on an elliptical, you just aren't working hard enough.
Your best bet is to go cross country skiing in the snow or rollerblading with poles to work out all those muscles you THINK you’re working out on the elliptical.
3) Leg extension machine.
While some professional bodybuilders may want to use the leg extension machine to build a bit more definition in their quads, it can lead to imbalances if hamstrings aren't also worked equally.
When in real life will you ever be using your quads without using your hamstrings? The leg extension machine can be stressful on the knees and also constrains your range of motion. If your legs aren't 'average' in length, then the machine may not 'fit' you well enough to be effective or could cause injury.
For the anyone who wants to get their legs in great shape, squats and lunges are your best bets. You can choose the bodyweight versions if you're just starting out. But, if you're more advanced, then adding weight to your squats and lunges using dumbbells or a barbell will get you what you seek and keep you balanced.
If you're considering using a barbell for your leg work, please see the next point first:
4) Smith machine.
The Smith machine also only offers a very limited range of motion.
All it does it go straight up and straight down, forcing you into a range of motion that might not be right for your body size and shape.
If you're serious about working out and getting in great shape, then opt for free weights, either dumbbells or a barbell.
And, if you're using a barbell for chest press, consider using dumbbells instead so if one arm happens to be slightly weaker than the other, the stronger arm can't compensate for the weaker arm.
5) Any exercise involving 3lb dumbbells where one actually thinks they're doing anything effective.
How heavy is your purse or briefcase? Chances are pretty solid that it weighs more than those teensy, little dumbbells so ask yourself how using them to do your reps could possibly be considered an effective workout?
Unless you're currently in some kind of rehab program for an injury or illness then there really isn't a place in ANYONE's workout for a 3lb dumbbell.
You have to give your body a REASON to change before you will SEE change.
If you're only lifting weights your muscles have no problem lifting and are already accustomed to lifting, change won't be happening any time soon ... or ever. Believe it.
Women and men alike should be striving to lift as heavy as possible, with the goal of hitting 'failure' at the final rep (this means you can't lift even one more time with proper form).
Women who are worried about bulking up can let their fears rest since women don't produce enough testosterone to build big muscles like men can. What women can expect from lifting heavy weights is a lean, toned and fit look with nice definition in their chest, arms, back, legs and midsection.
6) Recumbent stationary bike.
While cycling is an awesome cardio workout and an exercise I fully support, the recumbent stationery cycle is just a waste of time.
Why, you ask?
Take a look at pretty much everyone using one in the local gym. What's working? Legs. And nothing else. And barely even legs usually. There they sit, looking all comfy and reclined, reading a magazine.
Since when is exercise supposed to be about getting ‘comfy’?
And, just like the elliptical, if you're working so LITTLE that you can read a magazine, you just aren't working hard enough. Recumbent cycles are awesome for allowing you to take your head OUT of the game, which is not beneficial to getting a challenging and effective workout done.
If you HAVE to be on a stationary version of a bike at least get on the upright one and give your upper body something to do (like balance ... it’s not much but at least it's something).
But better yet, get on a real bike where you have to balance and use your core and upper body as you cycle around corners, up hills and basically just stay upright.
Wow, I hope this one is obvious. If not, see point #8
8) Hip adductor / abductor machine.
If you're not sure what this is, and you're a guy, I'm not surprised. Gym owners don't insult YOUR intelligence with this one. If you're a woman then this is the machine you'll find in the “Ladies Area” of most gyms. It's designed to work hips and inner / outer thighs, exclusively.
It doesn't matter if you're using the standing version or the sitting version, these machines are a waste of time and aren't doing what you might think they're doing.
First of all, why do only Ladies need this?
Second of all, why does ANYONE actually need this?
These machines do NOT burn fat off your thighs. This machine will NOT spot reduce your thighs or hips.
As a matter of fact, “Spot Reduction” is a myth.
This machine may, however, help you build muscle on your thighs. But it's not a very effective way to do it, for anyone looking to achieve that end result. Squats, lunges and other free-weight leg work will achieve that a lot faster than this machine will.
So, if you're not burning fat off your hips and thighs but you ARE building muscle, all you're doing is making your thighs and hips bigger.
More on spot reduction in point #10.
9) Any ab cruncher machine, contraption, or ‘gizmo’ like the ab cradle.
At all cost, avoid ‘abdominal spot reducer’ gizmos.
Because they don't work your abs effectively, and they promise something that's not possible ... they're promising to spot reduce fat from your abdominal area.
And, as covered in point #8, the ability to spot reduce fat in certain parts of your body just isn't possible.
Okay, now see point #10.
10) Any piece of equipment that claims it will ‘spot reduce’ any particular area of the body.
If you want to lose fat in your abs, your thighs, your arms, your chest, or any other area of your body, you MUST lose fat overall.
Fat will not come off in one area only just because you’re working that one area.
By working the muscle under the fat you're making the muscle bigger, but you aren't burning that fat.
It's true what they say: you can't out-train a bad diet.
Watch your caloric intake and workout with fat burning exercises that get your heart rate up and get you breathing hard (also known as 'cardio' workouts) to burn more calories ... and THAT'S when the fat will start to melt off.
Get on a fat burning exercise program, lose fat all over your body and watch that set of abdominals, thighs, arms, chest or whatever start to look more and more ripped as the fat comes off everywhere.
Bonus Exercise to Avoid:
Any piece of equipment that you’ll likely buy from a late night infomercial that promises to give you a ripped body without doing any actual work.
Do you really think sitting on your butt in a some kind of swiveling chair or connecting up to a bunch of electrodes is really doing anything to get you fit?
Ignore those contraptions you see during your late night TV viewing and save your dollars.
As much as these infomercials promise that getting in shape can be done without actually working at it, it's just not true.
So, if you haven't already, get comfortable with the idea of working hard to get fit and just go do it.
As you may have noticed, lot of these ineffective exercises require machines that you find in a gym. So, take your cue from this when it comes to machines. If you decide to get your sweat on at a gym, avoid the machines and hit the free weights exclusively.
Working out on machines in general isn't nearly as effective as working out properly with good form on free weights like dumbbells, a barbell or the cable apparatus.
Free weights promote more stability and more muscle activity and don't limit your range of motion like the
But you really don't absolutely have to go to a gym to get a good and effective workout, even if you don't have enough space for a designated workout room.
With a simple set of adjustable dumbbells and a couple of fitness bands you can set yourself up to get a great workout at home (even in a tiny space) and avoid costly memberships, inconvenient commutes and time-wasting waits for shared equipment.
There's no good reason to waste your time on these ineffective exercises, so make these simple substitutions and get to your goals FASTER.
Looking for a home workout you can do in a small space that can get you in great shape in a hurry?
Then, look no further than "Hot at Home". It's the Transformation Solution for People Who Hate The Gym.
Find out how to work out effectively with only minimal equipment and in the privacy of your own home. More information here: "Hot at Home"