Top 5 Overrated Exercises

Written by Adam Whitlach
Head Trainer, Western Reserve Racquet & Fitness Club

Use More Effective Methods to Achieve Your Goals

In the fitness world there are a host of exercises that make bold claims but often fall devastatingly short on their promises.  Most exercises can be useful in the proper context.  In this blog, however, the most overrated exercises I have selected are those that are either pulled out of context or simply not as useful as people think. This article will give you some exercise tips to find better, more effective methods toward achieving your fitness goals.

#1 The Cardio Myth

Steady-State Cardio is at the top of my list because this is protocol of the “new years resolution” crowd.  These people want to lose weight and perform long bouts of steady cardio in hopes of stumbling into their objective.  This is also why the fall off rate for people that join a gym in January is as high as 80% within the first 6 months. Steady-state cardio would include jogging, elliptical, stair steppers, or any machine that you choose to inhabit for 20 minutes or more.  An effective alternative would be something like Hill Sprints (sprint up the hill, walk back down- do it again).  You can use any machine to accomplish the same thing.  The key is high intensity and short duration (30 second sprint, 30 seconds rest x 10 sets = 10 minute session).

#2 Burpees

Next on the list are burpees.  I’m not sure when this became popular.  In my experience they have always been used as punishment, not as part of your programming.  We always had to do burpees in football practice when we messed up a play, while the military uses them in boot camps to break people mentally.  Burpees can be effective for increasing your heart rate; however, once you’ve done 500, what’s the next step in the progression? Do 501? Additionally, form tends to be ignored when burpees start to reach larger numbers of reps.  Since burpees serve no other purpose than to make you tired a suitable alternative would be anything that makes you tired with some sort of progression. Replace those burpees with lunges, kicking a heavy bag, broad jumps, or sled pushes/pulls.

#3 BOSU Balls

Unbalanced surfaces have become a tool that people have labeled as “functional” or aid with toning up their legs.  Athletes perform on stable ground when competing; therefore, having them train on unstable surfaces like a BOSU doesn’t make much sense for their primary movements.  The Swiss Ball or BOSU do have their place; but never as the main tool in training.  Toning a muscle usually means losing body fat in order to see the muscle underneath.  Using an unstable surface for toning exercises is usually an excuse to use lighter weights than you would normally use on a stable surface. Stability comes from being strong.

#4 Abduction and Adduction Machines

Abduction and Adduction machines are excellent for stabilizing and balancing out the muscles around the hips. Primarily because it offers the opportunity to train these muscles with resistance that is otherwise tough to duplicate due to the strange angles.  This machine will NOT tone or slim your thighs!  It is for building muscle, not reducing body fat.  If you feel as though your legs are too big, focus on weight loss.

#5 Sit-Ups and Crunches

Sit-ups and Crunches are an old standard used for the archetypal 6-pack.  Again, the ability or inability to see muscles is directly related to the amount of body fat lying over the desired muscles.  If you want a 6-pack, weight loss is your friend.  Sit-ups and crunches tend to be ineffective at legitimately building the abdominal muscles and create a fair degree of risk for the spine.  Ab wheel roll outs, landmine, inverted cable/banded curl or hanging leg raises are solid alternatives to sit-ups. 


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