The 8 Most Overrated Gym Exercises For Women

Some of these may shock you, some may even have you asking… “Did she really just say that was overrated?”

Yes, I certainly did.

As promised, this is the follow up to Tuesday’s Most Underrated Exercise post. If you missed it, check it out!

As for today, these are moves that I see repeatidily glorified, yet truth be told, I don’t think they deserve any gold medal or spot on the exercise pedistol.

But, I’ll let you decide.

The 8 Most Overrated Exercises

overrated exercises for women

Overrated Exercise: Running. 

I can already feel the glares. I promise, running friends, I am feeling them loud and clear.

Now, keep in mind…

I am a runner. I love to run and have no intentions of stopping… ever.

running overrated

But truth be told… Running is overrated.

It has become the “go to exercise”…

Oh you need to lose weight? Go run. You want to do something “fitnessy”? Sign up for a race. Oh you don’t like to run? Why not!?

I’ve seen a lot of women lose confidence in themselves because they don’t enjoy the sport and feel guilty about it.

Don’t feel guilty! There are so many other options available.

On top of the running guilt issue, there is also this:

Running puts a lot of pressure on the body, especially for someone who just jumps right in (as many do) which leads to injuries, burn out and an extremely sour taste for this great activity.

Try this instead:

Biking (very gentle on joints), swimming, dancing, boot camps, and circuit training (uh hum, like at Fit Womens Weekly).

Overrated Exercise: Overhead Kettlebell Swings

Now it’s my Crossfit friends’ turn to give me “the look”.

I love kettlebell training, in fact I LOVE kettlebell swings… I am just not crazy about swinging a kettlebell over head.

A KB swing is suppose to be a hip dominate exercise, targeting the glutes, hamstrings and lower back… however when you start swinging it overhead, form can suffer and instead of the hips, your arms and upper back may end up pulling.

This can lead to neck and shoulder issues and is a move that is better left to advanced athletes.

Try this instead:

There is nothing wrong in terms of the benefits you’ll receive, from stopping a swing when it’s parallel with the ground.

Overrated Exercise: Crunches



If you do 500 crunches a day, you’ll have the abs like Brittany (back in her heyday).

At least that’s what I was told.

Crunches are perhaps one of the most insignificant ab exercises out there. They target just one very small patch of the abdominals and can put a lot of pressure on both the neck and back.

Why do they get so much love? Because they feel like they work. That acute burning you get when you’re doing crunches is the reason they continue to stay popular.

Try this instead:

Mt Climbers, planks (here are 30 variations), and ab work using a stability ball (have you ever written the alphabet while in a stability ball plank?).

Overrated Exercise: Kipping Pull-upspull ups

Have you seen these? Done right, they are quite the cardio killer and are really cool to watch. Done wrong, they can cause a lot of problems, which is most often the case.

Kipping is actually a very advanced skill. I was a gymnast and it took years to be able to get it down.

When someone doesn’t know exactly what they are doing, they end up flopping around on a bar like a fish on a hook. They’ll swing, kick and pull… sure their chin might clear the bar, but from repetitive bad habits they may also end up with a pinched shoulder.

Then there is this…

A kipping pull-up is not a pull-up. I’m sorry, it’s not. It’s like comparing a lunge to a squat. Both work the same area of the body, but they target the muscles differently.

My honest opinion, is that no one should add a kip until they can do at least a set of 10 dead hang pull-ups. This will strengthen the joint to help safely progress.

To me, kipping pull-ups are more comparable to a row machine. And pull-ups, are pull-ups.

Try this instead:

Utilize your gym’s row machine. And if your goal is to get better at pull-ups, then use bands or an assisted machine to build up.

Overrated Exercise: Leg Press Machine

leg press machine

Just the thought of being sandwiched in this machine makes me nervous. It always has. But that’s my phobia and not a reason for it to be overrated.

The problem is that this “squat alternative” is easy to do incorrectly, mainly when it comes to foot positioning. Get this wrong, and unnecessary pressure can be added to the back muscles and spine.

Try this instead:

Squats, there are so many variations of squats that can help target your muscles from all different angles so you continue to challenge yourself while avoiding boredom.

Overrated Exercise: Dips


When you think of tricep exercises, is dips the first to come to mind? It is for me. And with just cause! They are great for targeting that small “v” muscle along the back of your arm.

But they aren’t the only tricep exercise, and they can be painful. Anyone suffering from shoulder or wrist problems may feel pressured to have to “push through” another set of dips.

That’s not the case at all, there are so many other options. If this exercise causes a “pinching” in the shoulders, then try something else.

Try this instead:

Cable pull-downs, dumbbell extensions, and skull crushers. In fact, here is an entire post on tricep exercises for women!

Overrated Exercise: Pistol Squats

pistol squat

Here’s another trainer’s confession… I love pistol squats but not because they’re a great exercise. But because I can do them.

That’s really all they are truly good for: bragging rights.

The pistol squat actually puts a ton of pressure on the knees and ankles. If you have great knees, then by all means add them into your workout routines from time to time (I do). In fact, I’ve even put together a progression program just for pistol squats.

However, don’t feel you have to incorporate them.

There are much better moves that doesn’t have ALL of your weight on one foot through such a huge range of motion.

Try this instead:

Step-ups, lunges, split squats (my favorite).

Overrated Exercise: Barbell Bench Press



A gym staple, right? Well, here’s the problem I have. It’s too much of a staple. Variety is the only way to really see results when it comes to your workout.

You wouldn’t want to eat chicken and brocolli every day of your life would you? And your chest doesn’t want to do a barbell bench press every time it’s strength training day.

Then there is the barbell… a great option, but there is a better one. Dumbbells. They allow you to move in a more natural range of motion and encourage you to use smaller stabilizer muscles for bigger results.

The bottom line, if you’re a barbell bench presser, give it up for a month and…

Try this instead:

Dumbbell bench press (at different angles) and push-up challenges.

And there you have it… the top 8 overrated gym exercises for women. I would love to hear your thoughts (even if you disagree with me).

What exercises do you think are overrated? 

Am I off my rocker with any of these?


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