10 Exercises You Need to STOP Doing
The fitness industry has changed more in the last 10 years than it has in the previous 50.
Why? Because it is now an industry...not just a hobby.
The first “trainers” were those guys and gals that looked the best and started getting asked for help. The only problem - these trainers were all bodybuilders. And while a lot of the most popular exercises of the past were great for looking good, many of them do not have much purpose in today's world.
So, unless you are a bodybuilder and prioritize looks over function, please, stop doing these exercises:
1) The sit up
The sit up and crunch have been a staple of the fitness world forever and even today it is still the most commonly used exercise, and yet it has almost no purpose.
From an abs perspective, you would be better off changing what you eat. From a strength perspective, you would be better off with plank variations. And from a longevity perspective, doing tons of sit ups is hard on the back.
2) Pull downs (behind the head)
If you are going to do pull downs, just make sure to keep the bar in front of your face. There is no advantage to pulling behind your head and it can be terrible for your neck.
3) Back squats
This one may be the most controversial because a lot of people have fallen in love with the back squat, but again, if FUNCTION is your most valued goal of fitness, then these just do not serve a purpose.
Most people have one side that is stronger than the other, so by doing heavy back squats, you are just reinforcing that compensation.
The good news is that you can do all types of other squats (lateral squats, single leg squats) and other types of leg exercises (lunges, reverse lunges, step ups) and still get a killer workout while also fixing compensations.
I can go either way on this one, but if your time is limited, skip the curls. The ONLY reason to do a curl is if you really want to get bigger arms.
If that is your main goal, go for it. But in all reality, if you do a lot of back exercises, you will work your arms too and you will be much more efficient in the gym.
5) Inner/Outer Thigh Machine
We have all seen these, and have probably used them one or a hundred times, but again, there is no practical purpose to get on these machines.
Your inner and outer thighs have an important job to do: stabilize the knee, so you can train them by doing some of those single leg movements I talked about above.
6) Triceps kickbacks
I have no problem with triceps work as I find that it can help to boost arm strength in the push up, but kickbacks are not the way to go.
First, you are in a very weak position and EVERYONE uses momentum to lift the weight. And second, because it is TOO isolated. The triceps is meant to work in conjunction with the shoulder, so unless the shoulder is involved in some way, the work will not transfer.
7) Side crunches
Just as the sit-up is out of date, so is the side crunch, but this can be worse in some ways because of the strain it puts on the spine. Every time you crunch to the side, you are adding stress to your disks in a motion that is uncommon.
While I fully promote moving your spine through a full range of motion on a daily basis, it is not beneficial to add strain during the movement.
8) Hamstring Curls
The hamstring is not meant to be used in isolation, and actually has a very important role in the body that is the exact opposite of what the hamstring curl trains for. Your hamstring's #1 job is to slow down and control knee extension.
In other words, it helps to stop your knee from extending too fast (because that would lead to injury). So, while you do need strength there, curls are not the way to do it.
9) Calf raises
The calf raise is a perfect example of the bodybuilder mentality brought to life. Calf raises are great for making your calf big, but for more people, they would be better off spending their time elsewhere in the gym.
10) BOSU Ball Squats
I saved this one for last because, while it did not come out of the bodybuilding world of fitness, it needs to stop nonetheless. And not just BOSU squats, but all lower body instability training.
BOSU Balls and stability balls are great for upper body and core work, but they are the wrong answer for lower body work. Most people use them because they want to improve balance, but if you need to balance, practice balancing on the surface you need to balance on...the ground.
I have seen way too many people who train on unstable surfaces that cannot even stand on one leg when the floor is NOT moving. If you need to train balance, start on the floor. If you are balanced on the floor, then you can go to unstable surface training if you want.
While there are plenty more exercises that you would be better off avoiding, I brought these up because I see them a lot. If one of these has been a staple in your current routine, I would just encourage you to think about your goals and if it aligns. Some of these should be stopped because they are not safe, but others are just inefficient.
I always look for the most effective way to train because I don’t want to spend 2 hours at the gym every day, plus all of my training comes back to function. I want to be able to live my life to the fullest without anything holding me back, so my training is designed to get my body to function at its best.
The good news: If you train for function and eat for looks, you can have both! It’s when you train for looks and eat for fun that's you get into trouble.
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