I’m not talking about exercises that may not be appropriate for certain individuals based upon their conditioning level or training goals. I’m talking about exercises that, pretty much regardless of how much you do them, will not make significant changes in tone, strength, or body composition. Here are five of the biggest gym time-wasters:
1) Triceps kickback. Although it is one of the most included and used exercises for the back of the arms, the triceps kickback is a real time-waster. The reason being that the triceps are only placed under stress through a small range of the total motion, meaning that the triceps are only contracting in the last 10 to 15% of the movement. Much better alternatives to create shapely arms are the cable triceps pushdowns or a decline bench French press.
2) Donkey Kicks (or kneeling hip extensions). The donkey kick exercise should be considered an exercise that works core stability, in particular the Transversus Abdominis (TVA). The general mistake is to think that this exercise works the glutes. However, there is no resistance applied, so the glutes will not be overloaded sufficiently to cause significant “toning”. It’s like trying to tone the biceps by simply bending the arm at the elbow. The TVA is placed under considerable load, having to stabilise the lumber spine and pelvis while controlling the weight of the moving leg. There are many better and much more functional exercises that will give you a lot more “bang for you butt” such as lunges, one-leg squats and weighted glute bridges.
3) The ABDuctor & ADDuctor machine. In my opinion these two machines are simply oversize paperweights taking up valuable space on the gym floor. The ADDuctor machine only works the short adductor muscles, which will actually result in a bulky upper inner thigh. Likewise, the ABDuctor machine fails to deliver its promise of toning the glutes. The actual muscles being worked by sitting in the abduction machine are the piriformis and tensor fascia latae. I expect these are not the muscles you were hoping to tone. Furthermore, the adductor machine starts with your legs in a stretched position, making it easy to strain these inner thigh muscles.
These two isolated exercise machines don’t cause your body to burn much fuel, which will limit their effect on fat loss. It is much more effective, and safer, to work the inner and outer thighs with compound exercises, like side lunges, step-ups, Bulgarian squats and pile squats.
4) The iPhone Curl. This is technically not an exercise but if you’re on your phone in the gym you are wasting time! You are at the gym to achieve a goal; socialise after your workout. Intensity is one of the most important components of your workout, getting distracted by your phone and resting too long means fewer results and taking up space when someone else could be exercising in your space.
Any exercise you do in the gym has some benefit (and of course doing something is better than nothing), but these four exercises are on the “if I have nothing better to do than waste time list.”
So, train smarter by choosing the most effective and efficient exercises for your workouts.