If you're planning on mastering the sit-up, you might want to quit while you're ahead.
In a world of high-tech gym equipment and strange exercise gear that claims to shed the pounds, we're often told that traditional forms of exercise are the most efficient way to stay fit. But sometimes, it's these well-known exercises that aren't doing anything for our bodies in the long run. For example, if you're a fan of the crunch, you may want to reconsider what you're actually working.
"The abdominal crunch is only strengthening a very small section of your abdominal wall and it doesn't address working your lower abs directly. It also doesn't work your lower back muscles or obliques," says personal fitness trainer Jason Gee of Personal Fitness Consulting in Toronto.
Instead, Gee recommends planks and side planks to build core strength — and if you are still determined to add sit-ups to your routine, avoid pulling your neck and shoulders.
As a trainer, Gee has seen everything from people just running on the treadmill for hours to attempting weight-lifting with an entirely wrong form.
"I would say overall people don't exercise intensely enough. You have to push beyond your comfort zone in order to improve," he says.
Christine Steiger, a personal trainer in Toronto says women in general do too much cardio by running on the treadmill or walking on the elliptical and don't mix in weight training. "You have to balance both if you have weight loss goals," she says.
And other fitness mistakes like spending too much time in the gym on one routine or even wearing improper shoes are just hurting our bodies in the long run. Having bad posture during an exercise, for example, can lead to injuries and slow down your fitness or weight loss progress, according to Yahoo.com. Other mistakes include not stretching (which again can lead to injuries or strains) and overestimating (and underestimating) your strength abilities, according to FitDay.com.
Instead of wasting your time with exercises that are not effective, Gee recommends three exercises that anyone working out should consider: A good 90-degree squat, back rowing (even with a little bend) and multiple variations of the plank.
Not getting the results you want? You may want to stop doing these 11 ineffective exercises:
Only Running On The Treadmill:
Running like a maniac on that treadmill for a good hour? Well, unless you're mixing your cardio with weight lifting, continuous running isn't doing anything for your weight loss goals, says personal trainer Christine Steiger of Toronto. The only time an hour on the treadmill is appropriate is if you're preparing for a marathon, personal trainer Jason Gee of Toronto adds.
If only getting those flat abs was this easy. Gee recommends anyone seeking a tighter core should stay away from sit-ups and work on planks and side planks instead.
"The abdominal crunch is really only strengthening a very small section of your abdominal wall and doesn't address working your lower abs directly," Gee says.
Touching Your Toes:
You know how you feel that so-called stretch every time you touch your toes after working out? Well, nothing is really happening to your legs. "Bounce stretching is very 1970s and it's not doing a thing," Gee says. Just hanging from your waist can also cause injuries, Gee says, adding that a proper stretch should last at least one to five minutes.
Overhead Tricep Press:
This workout does have value, Gee says, but only if it's done carefully. Overestimating your strength ability can put your shoulders in a very vulnerable position and can even injure them and your neck. If you want to work on your triceps, Gee recommends tricep extensions with weights instead.
Adductor For Thighs:
For the average person at the gym (unless you're an mixed martial arts trainer) the adductor isn't as beneficial for your thighs as you may think, Gee says. You're better off doing variations of squats and lunges to work out your thighs.
Sit-Ups With Straight Legs:
Don't try this one. Ever. "I'm not a huge fan of sit-ups, but don't ever do them with your legs straight," Gee says. Straight-legged sit-ups can potentially raise the risk of a back injury. Again, if you are determined to do sit-ups, always keep your legs at an angle.
Bending Sideways With Dumbbells:
Holding your weights on your side and moving your arms up and down is probably one of the biggest exercise mistakes you can make Gee says. "This is potentially the most dangerous exercise I've see at the gym — especially with heavy dumbbells." You could not only injure or strain your back, but also hurt your nerves and muscles, Gee adds.
If you work out thinking you're only targeting one specific part of your body, there's nothing happening to that unwanted fat. "There is no such thing as spot reduction. You will get much better results by reducing your carb intake at night, eating proper amounts of protein, reducing your sugar and alcohol levels and working out your whole body," Gee says.
Pull-Downs From The Back:
If you're doing lateral pull-downs, make sure the bar is in front of you. Pull-downs from behind can hurt your shoulders and neck and are ineffective if you're trying to build muscle strength, Gee says.
The Squat Machine:
Squats are supposed to hurt a little, and using a machine won't advance your workout. "Using this machine has value if you are in rehab for your knee, but you're much better off doing squats on their own for real results," Gee says.
Proper lunges are an excellent addition to any workout but if your front knee is going past your toes, just stop. "To do a proper lunge, make sure you bend your front leg either 90 degrees or parallel to the floor and do not lean your body forward," Gee says.