Exercise Goal: Efficiency and Effectiveness

Don’t waste your time doing pointless or risky exercises.

If you’re going to make room in your busy schedule to exercise, you want it to be worth your time. What’s the point of having a gym membership, waking up at the crack of dawn, or buying expensive workout clothes if your efforts won’t pay off? Unfortunately, many people spend their workouts focusing on exercises that either put them at risk for injury or won’t provide the results they’re hoping to achieve.

Wondering if your workout is safe and effective? Keep reading to find out what pieces of your routine you may want to reconsider.

Crunches and Abdominal Machines

You want flat abs so you do as many crunches as you can, right? Wrong. The traditional crunch works only a small part of your abdominal muscles and doesn’t touch your obliques or lower back. To strengthen your entire core, spend your energy doing planks and side planks.

Endless Cardio

An effective workout includes a balance of both cardio and strength training. Running for hours on the treadmill or doing only one exercise every time you work out can lead to injury and slow your progress. Intense cardio for long periods of time can also begin to burn muscle instead of fat, which you really don’t want to happen. Better bet: alternate days of cardio and strength training.

Lat Pull-Downs

Doing lat pull-downs behind your neck with a weight machine or free weights feels pretty good. However, it puts your shoulders and upper back at risk for serious injury. They’re also ineffective ways of building muscle. If you’re going to do lat pull-downs, bring the bar down in front of you. This method strengthens your back without putting stress on your shoulders.

Leg Extension Machine

You may feel a burn and think you’re getting an effective leg workout, but with the leg extension machine you’re only working your quadriceps muscles on the top of your thighs. Putting too much stress on your quads can harm your knees. The most efficient leg workouts will involve multiple lower body muscles working at the same time. Use correct form to do squats and lunges instead.

Thigh Adductor and Abductor

Working your inner and outer thighs on these machines is a waste of time, looks silly, and forces your legs into unnatural positions. Your goal may be to slim your thighs, but no exercise is effective at spot reduction. Don’t fall into the trap of believing you can focus in and reduce trouble areas of your body. You’d do better to burn calories while working your leg muscles with variations of squats and lunges.

Upright Rows

When you pull a barbell, weights, or cable bar up toward your chin in the upright row exercise, you place great pressure on the nerves in your wrists and shoulders, putting them at risk for injury. For a safer, more effective shoulder workout, go with lateral or front shoulder raises with your arms slightly bent.

Side Bends and Twists

Two more pointless exercises many people do in their effort to shrink love handles are side bends and twists. Holding hand weights and bending or twisting from side to side over and over again won’t slim your belly. Rather, it can injure your lower back. Focus instead on exercises that work multiple muscles at once, such as bicycle kicks lying on your back, and you’ll burn more calories and see the results you desire.