Six Overrated Exercises It’s Time to Quit

Written by Alex Zakrzewski

We all have those go-to exercises we do almost every time we’re in the gym. They’re the moves we learned in high school gym class or saw in a magazine years ago and still rep out regularly without even thinking about it. But just because some exercises have stood the test of time, doesn’t mean they’re effective. We’ve asked six fitness experts to reveal the exercises they’d like to see die off. You might not like it, but calling it quits with these deadbeats might actually do you some good.

Bench Dips

“Because your hands are in an awkwardly fixed position, bench dips can put a harmful strain on your elbows and shoulders without effectively hitting the target triceps muscle,” says IFBB Bikini Pro Anette De La Rosa. “In order to really benefit from the dipping movement, it’s best to perform them on a bar.

Dumbbell Flys

“The angle of tension and range of motion do not effectively target the pectorals, and place a high amount of torque on the shoulders while they’re in their most compromising position,” warns Xenia Busigin, CPTN-CPT and Provincial Figure Competitor. “It’s a deceptively dangerous move and injuries happen all the time, so you’re better off doing your flyes on a cable machine.”

Behind-The-Neck Press

“This move puts the shoulder in a very dangerous spot that can lead to rotator cuff injuries,” explains Dan Delic, CPT, Certified Nutrition Specialist and Physique Competitor. “In order to perform the range of motion, the head and neck must be tilted forward in what is an unnatural position that further increases the chances of injury.” To work the same muscles without compromising your neck, try a few sets of military presses.

Weighted Side Bends

“Thought to burn away love handles, even though there is no such thing as spot reducing, side bends can actually increase your waist size by causing your obliques to grow,” says Leda Grovestine, Fitness Instructor Specialist and Figure Competitor. “There is also a potential risk of injury to the lateral side of the vertebrae when performing the movement too often and with too much weight.” To target your oblique without risk, try weighted Russian twists instead.

Heavy Chest Presses

“When too much emphasis is focused on how much you lift instead of how well you lift, not only do you lose the mind-muscle connection, but other unintended muscles get more involved,” says Sarah Ainsley Harrison, PTS, CFST, FMT, and CBBF Bikini Tall Competitor. “A focused muscle contraction of 75-80% of your 1RM (one rep maximum weight) for 8-12 reps will yield far greater hypertrophy (muscle gain) than going 90-95% of your max for 3-8 reps.”

Seated Rowing Machine

“Machines such as these restrict the user to fixed ranges of motion and movement patterns that are unnatural, and could lead to imbalances for activities performed in everyday life,” says Nadine Young, fitness model, and Figure Competitor. “Stabilizing muscles are not effectively activated during these movements, which could lead to muscular and postural imbalances, and a lack of progress in strength.” Want to sculpt a sexy back? Swap your seated cable rows for single-arm dumbbell rows.

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