In the wide world of exercise there is a lot of bad information and hurtful practices floating around. Some common long held beliefs about how to exercise are becoming outdated as new research and studies show that they simply don’t help. In fact, some of the exercises you are doing right now may even be detrimental to your body. As important as exercise is to our health, it is even more important that we do only what is beneficial and scrap the rest. Here are a few types of exercises that are useless, inefficient, or just plain dangerous.
Useless Exercises: situps, twists, static stretching. There are many common exercises that simply don’t translate into the benefits that we would like them to. These exercises are a waste of your time at best and may cause unwanted side effects at worst. Situps, for example, are one of the most useless exercises for toning your abdominal muscles (i.e. they will never get you a six pack). They also have dangerous repercussions to your back, as they apply considerable pressure and curving to the spine. The plank is a much healthier alternative for core workouts as this exercise works virtually the whole body in a safe way.
Static stretching is another common held practice that is slowly going the way of the dinosaur. Recent studies have shown that holding traditional stretches for 20-30 seconds (e.g. toe touches) actually have a weakening result on your muscles. Multi-purpose dynamic stretching is now being used in place of the older, more rigid form of stretching.
source – NYTimes
Inefficient Exercises: curls, tricep extensions, calf raises. These exercises, while beneficial to some degree for particular muscle groups, are also extremely inefficient. Why spend time doing both bicep curls and tricep extensions when you could combine the use of both muscle groups in exercises like pushups or pullups? Also, these motions rarely translate into real world strength movements. When was the last time you had to lift something with the motion of a tricep extension? A good rule of thumb is to analyze your exercise motions and determine if you are using more than one joint. Single joint exercises (curls, extensions, etc) can always be replaced with a more efficient multiple joint exercise (bench press, push ups, etc)
source – GymJunkies.com
Machine Exercises: smith machine, shoulder press machine, etc. Machines are a staple among gyms and infomercials. However, they are most often weak replacements for exercises that could be done with free weights. Exercise machines tend to limit your range of motion in ways that may not suit every body type. They allow for no alternate body mechanics and prohibit the strengthening of secondary stabilizer muscles since the weights are always on track. However, there are always exceptions to every rule. If you are performing high risk exercises with large amounts of weight, like bench presses, without the aid of a partner or spot, then I would recommend the use of a machine. There is no reason to push your limits with weights dangling above your chest when there is no one to spot you for help. It’s better to have a more inefficient workout than to seriously injure yourself.
source – diet-blog.com
Improper Exercises: anything where your form is wrong. Whatever type of exercise you are doing, make sure that you are doing them properly. Some exercises (weights in particular) can be very detrimental to your body if you are doing them with the wrong form. If you are unsure of how to properly perform an exercises seek help from an instructor at your gym or the vast fitness resources of sites like stronglifts.com. They have extensive tutorials on various lifting routines that will keep you from injuring yourself. Doing an exercise improperly will always put your body at risk of serious injury.
(photo by Sydigill)