Let’s face the facts. Despite our best efforts, a lot of what we do in the gym is nothing more than a waste of time. Maybe we got turned on to some new exercise from that recently certified, know-it-all trainer at our gym…or perhaps we picked up a little tidbit in last month’s Men’s Fitness.
It really doesn’t matter where it came from. The point is, along the way, we’ve all probably welcomed a few worthless exercises into our workout routines. If progress has been slow and/or you just can’t get over that plateau, chances are (at best) you’re doing a few exercises that just aren’t doing you any favors.
Today, we’re going to shed a little light on some of the most common exercises which are essentially worthless. I’m also going to give you some replacements, so you can instantly turn any workout into something killer, effective, and worthwhile.
Before we get into the exercises, I’d like to add a little caveat to the above. The following exercises are “worthless” when they make frequent appearances in your workouts. Add them in sporadically and I see no real problem with them. Sure, they may not be as effective as other options, but the added variety they give certainly lends them value in any program.
Let’s get one of the most common (and useless) exercises out of the way first; the crunch. The crunch is older than dirt, and only a hair better for building that six-pack. The reason this exercise is such a time-waster, is because it only hits the abdominal muscle superficially. To stimulate the kind of muscle growth you need to really carve out those abs, you’re going to have to hit them more efficiently.
To really make those abs pop, shoot for something that’s going to up the ante and really cause them to work towards fatigue. Personally, I prefer doing vertical dumbbell crunches which engage the abs more fully and are all but guaranteed to leave you feeling a bit sore the next day.
I don’t know what it is, but the women frequenting my gym have an unhealthy obsession with this move. Often the go-to move for so many of those wanting to de-jiggle their upper arms, tricep kickbacks rear their ugly heads an inordinate number of times in workout routines of the uninformed. I hate to break it to you, but pumping those dinky 5 pound dumbbells isn’t doing a lick to that upper arm fat. If you want to burn fat, you’re going to need to do a little cardio, I’m sorry to say. If you need a little direction, our HIIT/Plyo Cardio Plan will really help with the fat burn.
But back on topic – if you want to really add some lean muscle mass to your arms and sculpt out something that’ll look great in a tank top, you’re going to want to start doing skull crushers. Don’t let the name intimidate you; skull crushers are easy to do and only require a bench and a weight. You can use barbells or dumbbells to really hit those triceps and help you develop a nice lean, layer of muscle.
Unlike the standard plank, side planks are much less effective at at building the obliques. When performing a proper side plank, much of your weight is being transferred through your bent arm making contact with the ground. This means your abdominal region is getting hit with much less stress, leaving it relatively untouched. Top it off with the fact this exercise needs to be performed twice (one for each side), and you’ve got a total time waster.
To really hit all aspects of your core, go for something a bit more intense, like russian dumbbell twists. The twisting motion really engages all aspects of your abdominals and helps you build those stubborn obliques like few other exercises.
Often a favorite for those wanting to plump up their butts and build long, lean leg muscles, the squat jump is an exercise I have a love/hate relationship with. While I think it’s not entirely worthless, I do think there are some simple variations which turn it into a far more effective exercise.
This one is really simple; take the standard squat jump and instead of stopping at 90 degrees, keep dropping that butt until it’s hovering just above the ground. Now explode up with all your force, using your arms to propel you, and leave the ground like a rocket taking off. You’ve just done an explosion jump – an exercise that hits the lower body muscles, harder, deeper, and more effectively. Work this one into your routine whenever squat jumps make an appearance and see how you feel the next day.
I need to preface this one so I don’t get inundated with hate mail. Bicep curls are a great isolation exercise for carving out definition in the biceps. That said, if you’re reading this blog you’re probably not the kind of person who is concerned with hyper-definition in their biceps…like a body builder would be.
Instead of spending time doing iso work like bicep curls, work in a compound movement that will hit multiple muscle groups, spike your metabolism more quickly, and give you a better overall workout. In place of the standard bicep curl, go for the total body exercise; extend + row. Not only do you hit your biceps, you also target your lats, traps, glutes, hamstrings, and core. One of the best total body movements, extend + row should become a staple of anyone wanting that body transformation to something more athletic, lean, and toned.
In Conclusion —
The key to jump-starting that body transformation is the culmination of a lot of little things. Focus on one minor change at a time, and sooner or later, your workouts are going to be a thing of beauty.
Stay consistent and your body will follow suit; turning into that athletically toned “dream” body you never thought possible. Give these new and improved exercises a shot. I’m willing to bet they turn your entire viewpoint around and get you back on the path towards your own dream body.
I’d love to hear what you think. Be sure to report back with any comments or questions in the discussion box below.