Happy Top Ten
Thursday Friday! We’ve made it through the work week (is that weird that any time I try to write work, I end up with “workout” on my screen every time? Guess that goes to show what’s on my mind alllllll the time!).
I am really excited about today, can you guess why? Because Batman comes out!
Dan has been waiting for this movie for an entire year, so for him it’s like Christmas day. Knowing how excited he is, makes me uber excited too.
Do you prefer early or late movies?
Anyways, as promised I couldn’t not give a great Top Ten
Thursday Friday post! I just started it last week, I couldn’t live with myself if I missed one already.
Which means without further ado, I present to you:
Top Ten Gym Exercises That Are Overrated
I am not going to lie, most of the gym machines that seem to cover most of the floor are overrated. But these go far and beyond to the point that they are just space taker-uppers (word?) and should just be used as a towel rack while you’re doing exercises that actually help you improve.
If your goal is to lose body fat and tone up then crunches are a waste of time. Just like other isolated exercises that work just one small muscle at a time, crunches do little to burn calories (or fat) and in the long run are holding you back from top notch results. Just like with the ab twist, choose core exercises that will not only work the front abs but will work your entire core. Lunge walks with a twist (holding a medicine ball), sprints, plank holds are just a few of my personal favorites.
9. Leg Curl machine.
The leg curl machine works the back of the legs and often you’ll see people going between the curl and the extension for an “even” workout. Again, it’s not a move you would do in your daily life which is a sign that it can be improved upon… big time. The quads are a huge muscle complex and are easy to train. My favorite exercises for quads include split squats, squat jumps, and straight leg deadlifts.
8. Leg Adduction/Abduction.
You’ve seen it, the machine where you sit down, and your legs are opened up nice and wide with a pad either on the inside of the knees or the outside. From here you either bring your legs together or push them apart. Reminds me of a trip to the gyno.
While it might feel like you are focusing on toning your inner thighs, you’re doing the same thing to your legs as you were with the extention/curl machines. Adding unnecessary pressure to the hips.
7. Calf Machine.
You sit in a lounger, put your feet angled up on a “pedal” and point and flex to feel the burn. I get it, we all want sexy calves (have you seen my sexy calf workout?). But again, it’s not practical when you could be doing it the way we were meant to get strong calves… but standing up!
Instead, stand on the edge of a stepper or stair, holding a weight down by your side in one hand, holding on to something for support with your other and push through the balls of your feet pushing your heels up as high as you can. Lower down and repeat. Play with different angles with your feet (toes facing in, out and neutral). Along with your calves, this will also work your butt and core (as long as you concentrate to squeezing them both).
6. Seated Rotation Core Machine.
You sit (or kneel) with your hands on a rotating seat. Grab the handles and keeping your shoulders looking forward, you turn your lower body back and forth. This is suppose to help give you that all desirable 6-pack, right?
First off there is no such thing as spot reduction so no matter how many times you turn yourself back and forth like a pendulum, your stomach isn’t going to flatten out.
The real issue is that this can put a lot of pressure and torque on your spine, leading to aches and pains. Forget about it, instead focus on core moves that can help strengthen your stomach and help your entire core (back included) to get stronger. Examples include: plank holds, wood choppers (on the cable machine), back extensions, and lunge walks, that’s right, lunge walks are great for the core.
5. Smith Rack.
Have you ever seen this? It looks like a squat rack with a barbell going across, but it’s on a track and slides up and down. A lot of newbies use it for squats and bench press. Sorry to say, it’s not as great as it looks.
Because it’s on it’s own track you don’t get the benefits of doing the real moves. It’s important to work small stabilizer muscles which you would if you were doing these exercises sans machine, because it will make you stronger and more fit overall and help prevent injuries as you progress. Plus, the beloved smith machine often times is on a very strange angle, one that is unnatural for any move. Again, keeping you from the benefits of the real deal exercise.
If you’re nervous about doing weighted squats or bench press, start off using dumbbells as they are easier to drop should you find yourself in a compromised position. Or ask for a spot to help you with heavier weight. The only thing I love the smith rack for is pull-ups!
4. Leg extension machine.
If the curl made the list than it’s sister exercise had to as well, and it is even worst. The leg extension targets the quads (upper thighs) but even more so it puts a lot of stress on the knees. It can actually be dangerous. Not to mention, how often do you do this movement in real life? It’s not very functional.
Instead, do a compound exercise such as a 1-legged pistol squat or step-ups.
3. Clean and press.
This is a completely machine free exercise, and done properly is a great one. However, the amount of people in a gym that can do a proper clean and press are far and few in between. This is a move where you start with a barbell on the ground in front of you, “clean” it up, by using a mix between a deadlift and an upright row to power the bar up to a front squat, before pushing it over your head.
Done correctly and it’s a very powerful move working all major muscle groups in the body and allowing for big calorie burn. But there is also the problem of the “press” part that can add pressure to the lower back and shoulders leading to injuries.
Options include doing a super set where you would perform a set of squats (or deadlifts) and then immediately follow it up with an upper body move such as bench press.
2. Behind the Neck Shoulder Presses
I think a lot of women do these because they see guys doing them and they look cool. But the guys shouldn’t be doing them either. Shoulder presses with a bar can be very hard on the shoulder joints, add to it the behind the head motion and you’re looking at even more possible danger.
This move takes flexibility and can cause shoulder joint as well as damage to the rotator cuff. Trust me on this one, I dislocated my shoulder about 5 years ago doing a barbell shoulder press. = Shoulder press fail.
What can you do instead? There are so many great ways to work the shoulders such as pike push-ups (my favorite), hanging dips, and overhead med ball tosses. Much less intense on the joints but just as effective on creating toned arms!
1. Treadmill walking.
Yes I said it. The number one exercise (or exercise machine) at the gym is walking on a treadmill. Unless you’re brand new to exercise or are rehabbing from an injury, treadmills don’t do much except make you feel like a hamster. If it’s part of an overall fitness program which includes strength training and intense cardio, then of course there could be a place for it in your life.
But if you walk into the gym, hop on a treadmill for 45 minutes, hop off and then go home you’re waisting your time and money. Relying soully on cardio can actually decrease your metabolism, have you craving more foods, and have the weight either staying put or being added on.
Love to run? Then run, just make sure you’re keeping a balanced workout to get the body and life you expect from your exercise routines.
- Find anything shocking on the list?
- What’s the strangest exercise you’ve ever seen someone perform at your gym?
Once, I saw this “muscle man” doing 1-legged squat jumps OVER a bench. I have to tell you I was impressed. He did a complete pistol squat on one side, powered up and landed in the same pistol squat on the other side. Takes crazy guts to try that one!
- Smith machine: http://schellers.com
- Squat – http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/jnl-on-the-go-episode-3.html
- Extension: http://thewaronbullshit.com
- Pistol: menshealth.com
- Curl: http://speperformance.wordpress.com
- Deadlift: http://www.cardiopizza.com
- Adductor: http://www.bodytr.com
- Sumo squat: http://ladybirdmagazine.com
- Clean and press: http://eas.com/training/mass/front-squat-to-press-barbell
- Lunges: http://confessionsofajogaholic.blogspot.com/2011/05/day-6pt-for-free.html
- Pike: http://www.health.com/health