While exercising in general is great and should never be discouraged, you probably are performing some exercises that are simply ineffective. Whether they are simply isolating a very small muscle that could be worked better with a compound movement or you are simply performing them way too fast causing you to have bad form, some exercises are better than others!
First and foremost, lack of form is usually what causes ANY exercise to be an ineffective exercise. If you aren’t doing it correctly not only will the exercise not tax your muscles but you run the risk of injury. Make sure you have the correct form no matter what exercise you are doing!
Avoid these ineffective exercises
For a change of pace, we asked other fitness professionals from around the country what they think are some of the most ineffective exercises that almost everyone does and what are some good alternatives to replace them with. You may be surprised what made the list!
Top 5 Most Ineffective Exercises:
1. Calf raises
“Unless you are a body builder or are incredibly self-conscious of your calves, there are zero reasons for you to do calf raises. Instead walk, hike, run stairs, or just run period as all of these exercises get a lot of calf engagement” said Alison Roessler a strength and conditioning specialist and CEO/Founder of Truve.
Numerous experts agreed that crunches should be supplemented with more effective exercises. Oscar Agramonte, a MBSC Thrive Trainer, agreed, “Your abs are meant to be stable, to prevent extension and rotation. They are not movers [like the movement in a typical crunch].
So, it is better to focus on core stability. Exercises that use bracing to strengthen the core are preferred. Such as hard planks, using an ab wheel, and farmer carries with heavy weights.”
While crunches can be effective there are many other exercises you can do to target your core. Experiment and find out what you like the best and is more effective for you.
3. Bicep Curl
Curls for the girls, right? Well maybe but place the bicep curl in the ineffective category as well, mostly due to the lack of form. Matt Fellows, director Iron Works Elite Fitness, explained,
“One of the least effective exercises that I see everyone doing is bicep curls. These are often very ineffective in general because they are an ego lift.
People cheat and use far too much momentum to lift the weight, largely wasting the movement and missing out on the benefits. When this isn't the case, it is a less effective lift because it isolates smaller muscles which burn fewer calories and have much less overall benefit."
"A great substitution would be supinated chin ups. My personal favorite is wide grip pull ups. The reason is that it will fully work your biceps while including several other muscles, most of them much larger than the biceps.” Or at least we try to go lighter and do them correctly, okay peeps?
4. Adductor/Abductor Machines
Alison Roessler also felt that the adductors/abductors machines were ineffective as well because, “We have all seen them, typically a woman who thinks if she does enough her thighs won't rub together. There is no way to spot reduce ... if you are going to attempt to target the inner thighs, do it with a combo movement like the sumo squat. That way you get glutes, quads, and core in the mix as well.”
Burpees? No way they made the list... it is a HIGHLY effective exercise but it all goes back to lack of form!
Hear us out on this one. We love burpees and they are an integral part of many of our workouts. But let's dive a bit deeper.
Kyle and Carissa Bealert, both ACE certified personal trainers and owners of Evolution Fitness Orlando, explained, “We're so tired of seeing people do burpees! Yes, burpees! There's nothing "wrong" with them to get your heart rate up, but there are so many better exercises you could be doing. It gets your heart rate up, but if you are looking to get your heart rate up then sprint, box, or jump rope."
"Does it work your chest? Not really. Most people incorrectly do the push-up part of it or do a half-pushup. You're better off doing strict push-ups or chest press. Does it work as a squat? Again not as effective, because most people are just rushing through it …
A better alternative would be 10 full, controlled push-ups, followed by 10 full, hard jump squats. Separate the exercise and increase the benefit.” Form first people!
Almost Made the List: Walking
We are huge fans of brisk walking as a great daily activity to help lose weight - key word BRISK. It truly is one of the best ways for people to increase their activity and get started towards a healthier life.
“Letting folks believe that any kind of walk will do them a world of good is a disservice. Yes, if they haven't worked out for years and they intend to add moderate and build to rigorous exercise, then starting out for a few weeks, at a slow walk can be beneficial ... but you certainly can't stay there and enjoy results."
"You have to work up your routine to be a daily event. You have to add physical challenge of some description.
Walk with weights, add walking sticks [Nordic walking pictured], walk and throw punches, walk and add high knee raises along the way. Walk until you can walk extremely quickly then lengthen the duration of your quick walk” said Rosemary Orange a certified personal trainer and owner of Realm Fitness.
When it comes to exercise and being active, we believe that there really is no exercise that is "junk".
As long as you are doing something that keeps you active then you are doing a damn fine job! Just be aware that there are some exercises that you can replace to make your workout more effective.
Make sure to start slow, with correct form no matter what exercise you are doing and then progress from there! What exercises do you think are the most ineffective exercises?