10 Most Ineffective Exercises

Monday, December 28, 2009

 This was really shocking to me - I used to do some of these exercises at the gym! Well, not anymore!!  I decided to post the entire article as it's all good information:

10 Most Ineffective Exercises
By Raphael Calzadilla, B.A., CPT, ACE
Glee Contributor
Updated: Sunday, April 9, 2006

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." -Albert Einstein

What if you suddenly found out that every workout you’ve been doing for months and months was unsafe, inefficient and graphically illustrated in the imaginary encyclopedia of bone head exercises?

We tend to look at certain areas on our body with disgust and anxiety. We look for quick fixes and the magical exercise that will solve all of our problems. That’s why infomercials sell “5 minute exercise solutions,” and love to prey on our weak emotional states and lack of knowledge related to physiology. Let’s get to the point: There are exercises that just plain stink. They’re inefficient, have a high injury risk and provide practically zero benefit.

The following list of exercises may surprise you. Consider your surprised reaction a step in the right direction. Here’s my top 10 most ineffective exercises list: This is by no means an exhaustive list - there are a lot more.

1. Adductor Machine -- The adductor machine is the exercise unit that you sit in while placing the inner part of your legs against a pad. You then push the legs toward each other, with the goal of reducing your inner thighs. Maybe you perform 20, 30 or even more reps to affect the area. This exercise will not reduce your inner thighs. You’d need enough resistance to create an impact on the muscle, so more than 15 reps aren’t going to accomplish anything. More importantly, it’s not the best range or plane of motion (direction) to affect the inner thigh.

2. Abductor Machine -- The abductor machine is the opposite of the adductor. In this case, you sit in the machine and place the outer part of your legs against a pad. You then push your legs away from each other, in the hopes of reducing your outer thigh area. Pushing the legs outward accomplishes very little for the outer thigh. Again, the plane of motion is ineffective. You say you can feel this machine? I can also feel my chest muscles if I perform a dumbbell press very slowly with a pair of five pound dumbbells, but that doesn’t mean it’s accomplishing my goal. There’s more to the puzzle than just feeling it.

3. Standing or Bent Over Twist -- Ever see someone in the gym with a broomstick behind their head twisting endlessly from left to right? The person mistakenly assumes that twisting for hundreds of reps will shrink the waist and decrease the size of the oblique muscles (love handles). This movement inefficiently affects the spinal erectors and places stress on ligaments. It provides no slimming effect on the “love handles”.

4. Upright Rows -- In this exercise, one grasps a barbell with hands approximately four inches apart, with palms facing the body. Standing in an upright position, the bar is pulled all the way up to the neck. The objective is to strengthen the upper trapezius muscles (the muscles at the base of the neck).

Internationally known research scientist, Michael Colgan, refers to this as a “bone head exercise,” in his book, The New Power Program, and I totally agree. The exercise puts undue stress on the very sensitive rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder and can easily cause injury.

5. Side Bends -- Grasping dumbbells and bending side to side in the hopes that the oblique muscles (love handles) will shrink, may actually make the area larger if you use heavy enough dumbbells. Is that what you want? Toss this exercise out the window. The only thing that’s going to get those ‘love handles” smaller is reducing overall body fat through cardiovascular exercise, brisk weight training and last but not least, a calorie reduced diet.

6. Behind The Neck Lat Pulldowns for the Back -- Performing this cable pulldown movement puts unnecessary stress on the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulders. I can’t begin to count the number of people who’ve experienced injuries from this and any behind the neck movement.

7. Shoulder Press Behind Neck -- Not only is this an unstable position, but it can lead to inflammation, pain in the shoulder and major rotator cuff injuries. The shoulder joint is extremely complex and much like the knee joint, easily prone to injuries. Lifting an object over the head while it sits behind the neck isn’t even a functional (every day) movement.

8. Straight Legged Sit Ups -- Performing straight legged sit ups (knees locked and extended) puts a lot of stress on the lower spine, and the jerky type movement required to lift from the floor can result in injury. According to Wayne Westcott, PhD., Fitness Research Director at the South Shore YMCA in Boston, "in a routine where any abdominal exercise movement places stress on the back, the risks outweigh the potential benefits.”

9. Seated Rotation Machine --These machines are found in gyms and people use them in the hopes of shrinking the waist line. In fact, you’ll usually see people rotating left and right on these machines for hundreds of repetitions. It does not shrink the waist and can place a great deal of pressure upon the ligaments of the spine.

10. Cardiovascular Exercise: More than 60 Minutes -- I realize you want to lose the most amount of fat in the least amount of time. I can understand that, but if the body can only lose up to two pounds of fat per week before it begins destroying muscle, why are you working out as if you’re attempting to lose five pounds per week? I generally recommend working at a capacity of 70 to 80 percent of your target heart rate. If you’re performing cardio more than 60 minutes at this level of intensity, you’re on a collision course for muscle loss. If you think it’s not important, you may want to re-consider.

I’ve seen people lose well over 100 pounds and lose it very, very fast. They did everything possible to lose weight (fat and muscle), as opposed to losing only fat and sparing muscle. The result is a soft and flabby looking body. Yes, they lost the 100 pounds, but did it in the most inefficient manner possible. The key to your success is not searching for an exercise that will reduce a trouble spot. It’s finding the most efficient exercises that will strengthen the area. Then, the combination of reduced calories, cardiovascular exercise and consistency does the rest of the work.

Raphael Calzadilla has over 14 years of experience as a personal trainer and bodybuilder, earned his B.A. in Communications from Southern Connecticut State University; is certified with ACE, APEX and successfully completed the RTS1 program based on biomechanics.

(Here is the link to the actual article.)


Anonymous said...

Oh mannn! Yeah, I was surprised to read some of that article and can say I'm guilty to have wasted time with many of those machines/moves. I wonder, though, if they become more effective if I do more?
And that's also really interesting about working out too much - it kind of makes you hopefully - you have to work hard and be dedicated, but you don't have to kill yourself!

sarah said...

Interesting about the Adductor and Abductor machines. If they don't work then why do you feel the results in your muscles afterward? I use those machines when I go to the gym but I don't kill myself on them. Have to wonder who invented these machines. Ha!! And I totally believe in not over doing it with the cardio. I don't do more then 40 minutes max when I'm doing my cardio.

Jinksie said...

lol i've done the side bends, but i knew it can get bigger if you lift too heavily. I've also done the first 2 but felt very little... now we know why ^__^

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