You’re a busy person, right?
You want your time at the gym to be well spent, not wasted on exercises that won’t get you anywhere in terms of fitness or strength. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation out there, and that’s resulted in many of us using precious gym time doing things that are either totally useless or not as result-spurring as other options. Read on to find out which five overrated exercises you can cut from your gym routine.
1. Abdominal and Side Plank
These core-focused exercises certainly have their uses for beginners: abdominal and side planks help strengthen core muscles and improve overall stability.
But because these are static bodyweight exercises (as in, you’re holding one position rather than flexing and unflexing your muscles), they quickly lose their potency once you reach a certain strength level, and then you’re pretty much just hanging out.
If you can already hold the plank for 30-60 seconds and you’re not looking to set a Guinness world record then try switching to exercises that challenge your stability dynamically, like a set of push-ups or more difficult variations of the plank.
Ultimately, once you can hold the plank or any other variation for 60 seconds or more it’s time to change. Continuously doing the plank over and over again will only slow down your progress.
Challenge your body’s ability to maintain a stable core while moving in a controlled manner and you will not only be able to improve faster but you’ll also help prevent injuries in the long run.
2. Traditional Crunches
Note that in our dynamic exercise suggestion we did not mention crunches. While many people think that doing a hundred crunches a day will get them rock solid abs, it simply isn’t the case. Crunches only target one small abdominal muscle group, and can also place an undue amount of strain on the back and neck.
Think about adding some balance ball exercises to your routine instead, which tend to offer more variation and require more muscle action to stabilize your body with each movement.
3. Bench Press
Although it’s a staple of gym buffs everywhere, the bench press is overrated mainly because too many beginners stick to this chest exercise thinking that it’s the only thing they need. But according to Poliquin Performance,
“As a general guideline – and this applies both to athletes and to the general population – never perform more than 20 percent of your training volume for pressing exercises from a [supine] position. In other words, 80 percent of your presses should be performed from other angles, such as with an incline or military press. Further, at least 50 percent of pressing exercises should be performed with dumbbells, as they offer a more natural movement pattern and provide a more challenging workout for the muscles that stabilize the shoulder.”
Basically the bench press does have its place in a properly structured program. Just make sure not to make it your main focus every time you hit the gym.
Doing too much horizontal work can lead to serious rotator cuff problems because the muscles in the shoulders develop an imbalance.
So if you want to avoid the risk of ever having to go through a rotator cuff surgery, try following some of the guidelines outlined above.
4. Seated Knee Extension
Along with the leg press, the seated knee extension is one lower-body weight machine exercise that can be replaced with a way more effective substitute.
Like most weight machines, seated knee extensions target only one muscle group -- in this case the quadriceps -- in a motion that doesn’t translate well to other applications.
Plus, you don’t engage core and stabilizing muscles, so you miss out on a good opportunity to work your entire body.
Replace seated knee extensions with a walking dumbbell lunge or front squats.
5. Hanging Knee Raise
This is an exercise that’s got the opposite problem from some of those mentioned previously: it’s too hard for most of the people who try to do it, which means that unless you’ve got enough training experience under your belt, you’re probably not doing it correctly. Incorrect hanging knee raises not only fail to strengthen the muscles you’re intending to bulk up or tone, they also put you at risk for injury.
Will you be changing up your workout routine after reading this list? What moves are you doing instead?