Top Seven Exercises to Avoid at the Gym…No! Make That Eight!

As I have mentioned many times in my other posts, your body operates as a whole unit like all parts of a car engine working together. However, many gym exercises place your body in a fixed environment and are uniplanar, meaning that the movement is done in one direction. Obviously, this is not how the body moves in real life.

In anatomy textbooks, authors describe individual function of muscles and joints, such as the bicep femoris is for leg flexion and the gluteus medius and minimus are for hip abduction. By using such information, gyms and equipment manufacturers design exercise apparatuses that are supposed to work muscles in that fashion. Also, some of them send a false idea that doing such exercises will slim down butts and thighs and lose tummy fat. Have you seen or heard of the ThighMaster or Ab Rocket? Or anything with the world “Ab” attached to the product?

So when you walk into any gym, you’ll likely see members working out on these apparatuses religiously. But what do they do exactly? Why would anyone want to use them?

First, understand that the gym paradigm is mainly based on the bodybuilding industry. The bodybuilders’ primary goal is to achieve maximum muscle size. Therefore, the methods and equipments that applied to bodybuilders transitioned to the modern gyms.

Nowadays, bodybuilders do not make up the majority of gym patrons anymore. About two-thirds of why people exercise are to lose fat and/or improve their health, such as lower back pain or diabetes management. So if their goals are not to get as big as possible, why should they train like bodybuilders?

Several articles and books published by the fitness industry’s qualified experts, and many of them—including Juan Carlos Santana, Gray Cook, and Anthony Carey alsoagree that there are some exercises that are considered to be non-functional and most people should not waste their time and energy on them. Here are the top seven—wait, no, it’s eight— exercises to avoid in no particular order.

1. Leg Extension

Purpose and application: targets the quadriceps muscle in the legs;

may be used in rehab settings to strengthen the knee joint.

A better choice: squats, step-ups, lunges, jumps.


2.   Hamstring Curls

Purpose and application: targets the hamstring muscles in the legs

A better choice: squats, step-ups, lunges, jumps.


3.   Any ab machine   

Purpose and application: to strengthen and increase size of the rectus abdominus (six-pack).

A better choice: curl ups/sit-ups with knees bent. If you really want to train your “core”, there are hundreds of ways to do so  without doing a single sit-up or crunch.


4.   Back Extension

Purpose and application: to strengthen the lower back

A better choice: Do this exercise on a stability ball or a roman chair; floor cobra.



5.   Strapped Rotation

Purpose and application: Supposed to work the obliques.

A better choice: Any full rotation exercises in a standing position using a medicine ball, kettlebell, cable, or even a broomstick or baseball bat.


6.   Abductor machine

Purpose and application: targets inner thighs; supposed to “firm up” those areas

A better choice: squats, step-ups, lunges, jumps.


7.   Adductor machine

Purpose and application: targets buttocks; same as above

A better choice: squats, step-ups, lunges, jumps.

Last but not least (no pun intended)–The Butt Blaster  

Purpose and application: same as the last two exercises

A better choice: squats, step-ups, lunges, jumps.

As you can see, many of these non-functional exercises can be substituted with a few, simple exercises that works on ALL areas, rather than just individual ones. This is not to bash on exercise machines. If your goal is to gain size, then these workouts may be useful as PART of your tools. If your goal is to burn fat or get leaner, then training your body entirely in all planes of movement will burn more calories and save you time.

Learn how you can get your own personal exercise program without relying on the gym. Get stronger, burn more calories, and have more fun! Call 858.722.5216 today.

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