What Are the Most Overrated Exercises?

It seems like most people I see in the gym use the same exercises. Which exercises work and which moves are overrated?

Plank

    Photo: lululemon athletica/Flickr

Doing the same workout over and over again isn’t just boring, it’s ineffective. When you repeat the same movements time after time, your body adapts, which limits your results. You can also develop strength imbalances and postural issues over time if you don’t mix things up. To get the most out of your workout, swap out some of your usual moves with new ones. Here are three to get you started: 

Overrated: Crunches
The crunch places unnecessary strain on your back, and it only targets the rectus abdominis.

Do This Instead: The Running Plank
The running plank trains your entire pillar—your shoulders, torso, and hips—while stabilizing your spine and improving posture to help you look and perform better. To do it, start in a push-up position with your hands beneath your shoulders and feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your hips and torso still, draw one knee toward your chest. Return to the starting position and repeat with the opposite leg. (Click here to watch the video.)

Overrated: Seated Machine Chest Press
When performing the seated machine chest press, your body has to follow a fixed path. This limits the range of motion in which you can build muscle and neglects important stabilizing muscles of your shoulders. Think about it this way: When the machine provides the stability, your body doesn’t have to.

Do This Instead: 1 Arm Bench Press
The 1 Arm Bench Press places the weight on one side of your body, forcing you to stabilize your body using your core. You’ll develop core strength and upper-body power that transfer to everyday activities and the sports field. To do it, lie face-up on a bench with your hips just off the edge of the bench. Hold a dumbbell at your shoulder in one hand and the bench behind your head with your other hand. Keeping your hips in line with your shoulders, press the weight over your chest and then lower it to your shoulder. Complete the set on one side, and repeat with the opposite arm. (Click here to watch the video.)

Overrated: Knee Extension
Knee extensions focus solely on your quads, but don’t help build strength and stability throughout the rest of your lower body.

Do This Instead: Split Squat with Back Foot Up
You’ll get a greater total-body workout with the Split Squat with Back Foot Up. This move benefits your quads, hamstrings, and glutes while building single-leg strength and stability to boost your performance. Here’s how to do it: Stand tall in a split stance holding a pair of dumbbells with your weight primarily on your front foot and your back foot elevated on a bench. Lower your hips toward the ground by bending your front knee. Push through your front leg to return to the starting position. Finish your set on one side, and then repeat with the opposite leg forward. (Click here to watch the video.)

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