I don’t know about you, but I hate things that “waste” my time. Like when you call the plumber and he says he’ll be there between 8am and noon. You get up, rush around to get things ready for him and then you wait. You wait some more and noon comes and goes. Ugh. Hate that.
I’m the same way when it comes to workouts. I’ve got four kids and a busy life. I always go into a workout with a plan that will contribute to my goals. I don’t just show up, hop on a machine and hope it helps. That being said, I’ve been a gym rat for 20 years and I’ve watched people do all kinds of things that waste their time. Now, don’t get me wrong. If you go to the gym for a simple getaway, stress reliever and are only desiring to sweat out your pent up energies of the day, awesome. Going with that plan in mind means that any exercise and oxygen inducing movement will bring relief. I’m not talking to those of you who use the gym for that purpose alone. I’m talking to the ones who come through the doors, take a long look around, plug in their headphones so as to look intentional and busy and then just wander from piece to piece maybe doing a few reps here and a few reps there. Let me help save you some time by telling you 3 exercises that just aren’t worth it (for most of us.)
#1: The Sit Up
I know. You’re surprised. The sit up has been around for ages and often used as a test of strength for your abdominals. Why do I think it’s a waste of time if it’s so commonly used? Because I only see it done correctly about 1 in every 30 people. So for most of us, the other 29, it’s not worth it. First of all, it’s a super easy exercise to cheat on. We use momentum and the weight of our body to force ourselves up to our knees. Secondly, it’s really hard to isolate the abs without using muscles that don’t need work like the hip flexors or your neck. Third, usually the way it’s performed is not even safe. I see people yanking on necks, jerking to the top and dropping to the bottom and it’s an injury waiting to happen. There are SO MANY other effective and safe exercises that work your abs better than the sit up, it’s just not worth it. Don’t waste your time.
#2: Shoulder Shrugs
You’ve seen them. Picture the really big bulky dude standing in front of the mirror with his hat backwards and his tank top cut up enough you can see all of his muscles. He grabs dumbbells the size of a small vehicle and struggles to walk into position. Then he starts shrugging his shoulders up and down while making a fierce grimmace. Now, is he working his trapezius muscle? Sure. His purpose in doing this exercise is to create a look, a big huge bodybuilder type look. The rest of us, we’re not needing this kind of work. Why bring tension to an all ready overused and tight area of the body? We need to bring much more work in between the shoulder blades and much more stretch of the chest muscles for a great looking back and tall posture. Shoulder shrugs? Shrug them off. They waste your time.
#3: Calf Raises
You could argue the need for this exercise. I am writing this to the general population. There are some athletes who will incorporate weighted calf raises into their regular routine to give them a more powerful push off with their toes. If you need fast agility and you need to have that power, then it’s helpful to build strength in that muscle. There are also the figure competitors who are again, creating a look that will be judged. You can get lean looking calves by doing other full body training exercises. Running, cycling, and even squats all use the calves. To work the calf muscle, you use forward flexion of the ankle (you point your toe). Think about the number of repetitions a runner gives their calves while running. Every time they take a step, they use their calf. Unless they are a competitive sprinter, no need to tighten a muscle that often gets overused and overly tight. You’d be better off stretching your calves instead of doing weighted calf raises.