5 Common Exercises That Are Useless (Or Worse)
Not all exercises are created equal.
Some exercises are absolutely fantastic – and, when done correctly, will help you build a strong, muscular body.
Then there are other exercises which I’d rank as OK. You could probably swap them for something more effective, but they aren’t too terrible either.
Finally, there are those exercises that you should simply never, EVER do.
These exercises will be a complete waste of your time, and can even create otherwise preventable injuries.
While there are too many of these to list in one post, let’s start with 5 of the worst offenders.
1) Relying On The Smith Machine
Too many gyms choose to buy these expensive abominations, which is a real shame since it makes people think they might actually be useful.
They are about the same size as a power rack, cost the same or more, but force the user into an unnatural, fixed range of motion when doing an exercise.
You’ll see people doing all sorts of things on these: shoulder presses, upright rows, deadlifts, bench press, and even squats.
However, the bottom line is that all of these would be better done with a traditional barbell.
One of the biggest issues with the smith machine is that it doesn’t allow your stabilizer muscles to develop properly – so if you rely on it for too long you may find that the impressive bench you thought you had can’t be replicated on an actual bench press.
Worse still, depending the exercise, this problematic piece of equipment can be outright dangerous!
Take squats for example. When squatting, you want to keep your knees behind your toes.
Well, that becomes a whole lot more difficult to do when you’re locked into an almost vertical range of motion.
Yes, the rigid design of this of machine makes it almost impossible to perform squats correctly – along with many other exercises.
So, unless your gym literally doesn’t have other options, I implore you to avoid this thing like the plague.
2) The Behind-The-Neck Shoulder Press
Now let me say upfront that the traditional military press is a fantastic shoulder exercise.
In fact, it should fixed part of most muscle building workout routines. They are safe when done correctly, and you can really overload your shoulder muscles in a way that you can’t with shoulder raises.
And then there is the ugly cousin of the much-loved military press: the behind-the-neck shoulder press.
Unlike the regular military press – where you are pressing the weight in front of your body, bringing the bar down to about chin level – the behind-the-neck shoulder press has you awkwardly bringing the barbell behind your head.
This is NOT a natural motion for most people, especially when you pile on some weight.
Yes, this all-too-common variation of the shoulder press is a rotator cuff injury just waiting to happen.
Save your shoulder joints and never do it.
3) The Tricep Kickback
With the tricep making up 2/3 of your arm, they should be given the appropriate amount of attention during your workouts.
Thankfully, there are tons of effective tricep exercises that you can choose from: close-grip bench press, dips, and rope pulldowns, just to name a few.
The tricep kickback, on the other hand, does not make the grade.
Compared to other tricep exercises, it isn’t very effective at overloading your muscles, since it is very hard to use heavy weight while maintaining good form.
Don’t waste time with this awkward movement – it isn’t doing anything to make your triceps pop.
4) The Partial Squat
There are a lot of different theories about how to squat effectively.
Some people will claim that you should go to parallel; others will say that you need to get below parallel (or “ass to the grass”, as it is commonly known).
Both are arguably correct ways to squat. However, there is one type of squatting technique that is just flat out wrong: the partial squat.
This is when you only squat about half the way down, go back up, and call it a rep.
You see this all the time in gyms, with people doing a tiny range of motion, and lifting far more weight than they can handle.
It is an unfortunate case of ego getting in the way of actual progress (I should know, having done this myself for several years).
Trust me on this: if you do this, you are only cheating yourself, and are likely comprising your form, which can lead to knee or back injuries.
Learn how to squat properly, with a weight that you can handle, if you actually want your legs to grow.
5) Anything Performed On The Bosu Ball
It would be remiss if I didn’t address of one my personal pet peeves at the gym: the far-too-popular and utterly-useless bosu ball.
What is the bosu ball? Well, it’s basically half of a stability ball, that was sadly introduced to the world of fitness in 1999.
You’ll see many misguided personal trainers having their clients do all sorts of nonsense on this – ranging from bench presses to squats – claiming that it is helping to strengthen their cores.
Well, those people should fire their trainers, since working out like this will have you looking exactly the same, month after month.
Yes, having a strong core is important, but you’ll be able develop a powerful core if you are squatting and deadlifting regularly.
And, by performing those exercises on solid surfaces, you’ll be able to lift far more weight and build biggest muscles.
Believe me, this is far more effective than artificially limiting the stability of the exercise while you fumble through light sets of dumbbell presses.