With an abundance of misleading information saturating the fitness industry, trainees are often led astray and consequently spin their wheels performing useless – even dangerous – exercises. To eliminate confusion and help you achieve your ultimate fitness based goals, below I’ve outlined 8 common exercises that aren’t worth your time. Best of all, I’ve also included an appropriate alternative for each exercise that you can immediately implement within your own training program.
1. Wall Sits
Apart from select athletes (i.e. skiers) or a rehabilitation setting, wall sits are a waste of time and effort. A sub-maximal isometric exercise held for time, they provide little to no aesthetic, performance, or health related benefits. While they’re often touted as a great drill for improving muscular strength and endurance, they have minimal carryover to standard activities of daily living and are better off removed from the training program.
Alternative Exercise: Goblet Box Squats
2. Mountain Climbers
Generally used for cardio and abdominal work, mountain climbers seem to do more harm than good. Not only do they place a great deal of stress on the wrist and shoulder joints but, as fatigue sets in, they tend to promote poor postural habits. Whether your goal is to lean out or perform better, there are numerous other exercises to help you achieve your goals in a safer and more efficient manner.
Alternative Exercise: Single Leg Plank
3. Feet Elevated Bench Press
If you want to Bench Press then plant your feet firmly on the ground and Bench Press. Benching with your feet in the air is not only dangerous but it’s completely and utterly useless. While some professionals claim “it’s better for the core,” the reality is that it’s just plain stupid. When Benching focus on Benching; there’s plenty of time to train your core afterwards in a safer environment.
Alternative Exercise: Alternating Dumbbell Bench Press
4. Smith Machine Squats
The Smith Machine is far from my favorite piece of equipment. Given that the bar follows a fixed path, our muscles don’t have to work as hard to stabilize our body throughout the range of motion. As a result, strength adaptations gained from Smith Machine Squats are hardly applicable to sporting events and standard activities of daily living
Alternative Exercise: Barbell Back Squat
5. Abductor/Adductor Machine
During our daily lives, individual muscles rarely work in isolation and instead function as a unit to produce efficient movement. Unfortunately, the abductor/adductor machine only trains the muscles in isolation and consequently provides little to no real world benefits. To effectively train the abductors and adductors we’re better off performing a variety single-leg and split-stance exercises designed to improve tri-planar stability.
Alternative Exercise: Dumbbell Reverse Lunge
Commonly touted as a great “core” exercise, V-Ups are not only a waste of time but also potentially dangerous. Like most crunch/sit-up variations, V-Ups force the spine through repetitive flexion and extension while sustaining low magnitude compressive forces which, according to back expert, Dr. Stuart McGill, may result in disc herniation. For a strong and stable core, stick to ab exercises which force you to resist movement rather than create it.
Alternative Exercise: Ab Wheel Rollout
Arguably my least favorite exercise ever created, Superman’s are a complete waste of time. Its intentions are good in that it aims to develop the muscles of the low back, glutes, and hamstrings, but the small range of motion (ROM) and inability to use progressively heavier loads renders it utterly useless. Furthermore, the technique is so often butchered that it may actually exacerbate pain in the lower back and hinder subsequent performance.
Alternative Exercise: Reverse Hyperextension
8. Bosu Ball Squats
Unstable surface training (such as bosu ball squats) is frequently misunderstood and touted as the most “functional” type of exercise. Interestingly, though, research has consistently proven unstable surface training to be less functional than stable surface training as it has little-to-no carryover to real life circumstances. If you truly want to improve performance then get off the bosu ball and start squatting heavy.
Alternative Exercise: Barbell Front Box Squat