Top 5 Exercises To Avoid At The Gym

Wednesday, September 27, 2006 - 9:04am

By Adam Kessler, CSCS

When I ask people why they don’t workout, one of the most common excuses I hear is: “I have no time.” For those who actually do go to the gym, many want to get in and out as quickly as possible. In today’s society, time is of the essence.

Unfortunately, people waste a lot of time on exercises that have little fitness value. If you are doing any of the following exercises, you could be squandering valuable gym-time on movements that aren’t helping you achieve your fitness goals. Read on to learn why you should skip them and which alternate exercises will give you much better results.

Exercise Time-Wasters

1.   Inner/outer thigh machine - only limited amount of leg is worked

This is one of the most popular exercise machines at the gym for ladies who want to tone up their inner and outer thighs. The waiting line is usually a mile long, as women do hundreds of repetitions to achieve leaner legs. What they don’t realize is that because of the design of this machine and limited range of motion, they are really only working a very small portion of their legs.

  • Tip: To get better overall results, perform lunges and/or squats, and eliminate this exercise from your workout altogether. You are much better off hitting your inner and outer thighs during those exercises, than spending 15 minutes on this machine. Just because everybody is doing it, doesn’t mean it is right. Be brave and challenge yourself and I guarantee you’ll love the results.

2.   Sitting abdominal crunch machine - more effective to do floor exercises

As a personal trainer, even I do not know what the official name of this machine is, but it is at every gym. In general, exercise machine have a limited range of motion—which limits their results. And this machine is no exception. It does not target the abdominal muscles effectively.

3.   Side bends don't help slim your waist

My wife was just asking me about these the other day because she wanted to slim her waist. Beware: Side bends don’t help! All they do is build muscle and push your body fat out further, accentuating your love handles! That’s not what you want, right? The obliques are small muscles, so just a little stimulation really develops them.

4.   Russian twists are a good warm-up exercise, but no more

During this exercise, you stand with a broomstick on your shoulders behind your head and twist side to side. As a warm-up, this movement is fine, but as an exercise to reduce your love handles—no. It doesn’t do anything.

  • Tip: Try some stomach exercises that exercise your obliques.

5.   Lat pull-down behind the head must be done correctly to be of benefit

If done correctly, this isn’t a useless exercise. However, studies have shown that if done improperly this exercise can cause serious damage to your rotator cuffs. To avoid damage, you must do it absolutely perfectly (which hardly anyone ever does).

  • Tip: To get the same benefit for your back (and avoid damaging your shoulder muscles), pull the bar down in front of you.

If you want your gym-time to be quality time, avoid these exercises and practice safe and effective alternatives. I promise that you’ll achieve your fitness goals a lot more quickly and efficiently.