Impressive-looking exercises that don’t yield equally impressive results

Ever wonder why your workout routine isn’t helping you lose weight, build muscle, or improve your performance? Well, your problem likely isn’t a lack of will power or hard work, but it may be that you’ve been doing the wrong types of exercise the whole time.

Exercising day in and day out without seeing the results you hoped for may make you feel like giving up. You’re not alone. The majority of exercisers who don’t experience fruit from their labors get frustrated and end up quitting after just a few months of gym attendance. Who can blame them? Well, don’t give up yet. All you may need is some redirection.

Here are the type of exercises you’ll want to steer clear from. Sure, they may look impressive, but don’t be fooled—they aren’t going to help you reach your goals.

Anything Isolated

Exercises that isolate or focus on specific muscles and work only one joint are called isolation exercises. Bicep curls, triceps kickbacks, quadriceps extensions, lateral raises, leg curls, leg extensions, and crunches are a few of the more popular types of isolation exercises. If the exercise involves a weight machine, it’s probably isolating a certain muscle. Many exercisers go from one weight machine to the next with the goal of working each muscle group one at a time during the course of their workout. These types of exercises may look impressive, but they won’t produce the results you desire.

While isolation exercises have their place in a workout routine, they should be only a small part of yours. Isolation exercises should be reserved for those who need rehab following an injury, to strengthen a specific muscle that’s especially weak, or to increase the size or shape of a particular muscle. (For this reason, isolation exercises are often used by bodybuilders after they’ve developed a certain level of muscle mass.)

The Downside

Isolation exercises create a lower metabolic response since you’re not lifting much weight. Your heart rate won’t increase to the degree it would if you were using multiple muscles in a single movement. Don’t believe it? Watch someone do bicep curls and then watch another person do squats. Who looks like they’re working harder? Because of the lighter weight and focus on a single muscle, fewer calories are burned during isolation exercises.

Compound exercises, on the other hand, are much more effective at increasing strength, adding muscle, burning calories, improving performance, and getting a full body workout. Compound exercises incorporate multiple muscle groups and joints in a range of motion. Examples of compound exercises include all variations of squats, lunges, bench presses, deadlifts, pull-ups, rows, dips, and overhead presses. Building your routine around these types of exercises may be the key to seeing the results you desire.

A Few Tips

Don’t be a quitter because of a lack of results. While you may look impressive doing rep after rep of bicep curls and crunches, you won’t reap as many health and fitness benefits as you would with compound exercises. Never think it’s too late to change your workout routine. Beginners will really see the impact of avoiding exercises that only work a single muscle and joint at a time, as they’ll be able to accomplish a lot more in a lot less time.

If you’re ready to make better use of your time in the gym, work with your personal trainer and plan your workout routine around compound exercises, saving the isolation exercises for special situations and body builders.