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7 Exercises That Are Wasting Your Time

April 21, 2015 4 min read

Who has time to waste at the gym? Some days, it is hard enough to even carve out enough time to get there in the first place. The last thing you need to be doing is blowing your valuable time on exercises that aren't getting you results. Read this list to see what you can drop from your workout sessions. Don't worry, we've also got some tips about what you can do instead.

The Stationary Bike Warm Up

Dean Maddalone, CSCS, director of the Professional Athletic Performance Center in New York, says that although you need to warm up, your 5 minute tour on the bike isn't really doing much. Any warm up you do should get your heart rate up to at least 60 to 65 percent of your max heart rate (aim for 120 or up). Doing this raises your core temperature and gets blood and nutrients to your muscles so you are primed to workout. If your warm up doesn't elevate your heart rate or make you break a sweat, you're wasting your time. Better Move: Try some quick bodyweight exercises. Try 30 jumpingjacks or 15 burpees. Takes much less time and gets the heart pumping.

Machine Leg Presses

Leg press machines turn multiplane exercises (like squats) into a single plane exercise. Your legs are naturally made to move in all directions and these machines work them only in one way. Furthermore, your stabilizer muscles are not used at all which means you are only getting a portion of your muscle building, calorie burning potential. Better Move: "Squats are probably one of the best multi-joint exercises," says Maddalone. "They not only develop your legs, they also help develop overall trunk stability." Start with bodyweight squats and then move on to goblet squats, holding a dumbbell or kettlebell at your chest for resistance. To maximize this workout, make sure you lower your torso until your thighbone is parallel to the floor, keeping your weight in your heels.

Smith Machine Shoulder Presses

This is basically a waste of time for similar reasons as machine leg presses. The Smith machine fixes your weight's path so you only have to push it up and down. Not having to work to keep the weight stable means fewer working muscles in your shoulder during every rep. Better Move: You will probably have to use less weight but doing shoulder presses with a set of dumbbells is going to get you a better burn. Squats-10-500x472

Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell swings, where you swing a kettlebell between your legs and then up in front of your chest (or over your head), uses a great deal of momentum for the movement. The more momentum you have, the less muscle you use. Better Move: People perform kettlebell workouts to sculpt their legs and frontal deltoids. Instead, try working your legs with squats or lunges and work the frontal deltoids with slow dumbbell front raises.

Weighted Side Bends

While these exercises work your external obliques, they don't do much for your internal obliques or the rest of your core. If you are using heavy weights to perform this exercise, you may be actually making the external obliques larger. This is great if you are going for an athletic, sculpted look but not if you are trying to make your middle look smaller. Better Move: Try side planks with a twist, bicycles or Russian twists. They work the external obliques while also working your deeper ab muscles, including your internal obliques and your transverse abdominis.

Hip Adduction/Abduction Machine

You sit while using this machine. Sitting impairs your ability to get maximum results. The glute muscles have a more difficult time being activating when you are seated so you are not using as many muscles as you could be if you were doing a different exercise. Better Move: Use squats, lunges and if you really want to work your inner and outer thighs, side lunges. By standing you will better engage your adductors and abductors and you'll also be working your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.

Machine Leg Extensions

These exercises work your upper thighs but not much else. "Isolated movements like this one provide very little carryover to daily functioning and sports performance. Moreover, they lack the efficiency of using multiple muscle groups for maximal calorie burning needed for weight loss and general health" says doctor of physical therapy and strength and conditioning specialist Sean M. Wells, DPT, PT, CSCS. Better Move: Squats. By now I'm you've spotted the theme in your solutions! Squats use multiple joints to strengthen the front and back of your legs (and your butt) while burning more calories. And unlike when you use the machine, squats are totally functional in that they mimick movements you make everyday. Step ups and leg raises are also a great way to work your quads while engaging the rest of your leg. Well, there you have it. No need to waste any more time! How much can you shave from your workout?    

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