Ever see those people in the gym who have absolutely no idea what they’re doing?
They’re always on those weird machines and never truly get a good workout in.
Reality is, a lot of people waste their time at the gym doing a lot of things. But nothing’s a bigger waste of time than just using machines for your entire workout.
Today, I’ll be talking about the exercises and machines you should avoid altogether. A lot of these exercises increase your risk of injury and/or are just plain dumb.
At the end, I’ll be showing you better workout plans and what you should be doing to improve your gym time instead.
Let’s take your gym knowledge to the next level!
I hate to say it. But every time I’m at the gym these machines are always taken.
There’s just something about people wanting a flat stomach or six pack abs that gravitates them towards ab/crunch machines.
I’m not attempting to judge but these people think ab machines are the quick way to getting a solid workout in.
In reality, they’re wasting their damn time.
Ab machines usually have you in a seated position, followed by using your legs held in place and arms overhead to pull the machine together, thus squeezing your abs.
I tried them a few times just to see what it was like and I’m not going to lie, you can get a solid abdominal burn by doing a few sets of these.
But if you think that doing crunches for hours is going to give you a six pack, you are sadly mistaken.
Nutrition is much more of a factor of getting six pack abs. After that squats, deadlifting, and some form of abdominal work will help you get the six pack abs you’re looking for.
Forget the ab machines and make your way over the free weights for a proper workout.
The Smith Machine
I get the hype for the smith machine. Lift weights safely without a spotter and just in case you’re struggling, you can always re-rack the weight at any time. The idea is pretty great and makes the claim for increased safety.
But not so fast.
The issue with the smith machine is that it doesn’t allow for 100% free movement. The smith machine works solely on an up and down line or vertical access. This can place a tremendous amount of stress on the knees and joints.
For example, when performing a normal squat in a rack (not smith machine), your hips shoot back and you begin to descend into a squatted position.
There is very little horizontal movement but just enough so that your body naturally flows downwards and upwards.
When using a smith machine for squats, there is zero horizontal movement. It feels awkward and can lead to injuries due to awkward movement of your body especially your back and knees.
Another issue with the movement of the bar is it messes up your feet placement. In order to compensate for zero horizontal movement a lot of people have to squat with the feet way in front of the bar.
This smith machine can still give you a good workout and burn, but nothing beats regular squats.
The same can be said for those who use the smith machine to bench.
Regular benching often uses more of an arcing movement rather than just straight up and down on the smith machine.
Smith machine bench can put a lot of stress on your shoulders and can easily tear your rotator cuff. If you do bench on smith machine (which I recommend you don’t), don’t use too heavy of a weight.
Surprised leg extensions are on this list?
Yea me too. Even I used to love using the leg extension.
What a better way to isolate the quadriceps muscles than hopping on leg extension machine and just cranking out some high reps. It really gave me a killer pump to.
Reality is, the leg extension just isn’t worth your time. Isolation exercises, in general, are never the best idea in the first place, and if you really want to use them, do so at the end of your workout.
If you really want to build big quads, do some squats or squat variation.
Leg extensions can also be harmful to your knee joints.
“Leg extensions are a potentially dangerous exercise because when only the shin is in motion, the exercise draws the patella back onto the femur increasing joint compression forces, which can damage the connective tissue and the ligaments supporting the knee joint”
If you don’t know what your patella tendon is, it connects your knee to the thighbone. Injuring or rupturing a patella tendon will have your knee of out of sorts can really mess up your ability to walk properly.
Once again, if you must do some leg extensions for whatever reason, use low weights and high reps. Maybe incorporate it into some BFR training (blood flow restriction). But as a general rule of advice, avoid it.
Any Abductor Machine
In my opinion, these have to be the silliest machines ever invented. I see a lot of women use these machines because they think it makes their butts bigger.
Ladies, if you want a bigger butt, do some squats, lunges, and sumo deadlifts. You’re not going to get muscular like a man from these exercises. You’ll build a bigger bum guaranteed!
Not only do these machines look silly but they provide no actual workout value.
It’s another isolation exercise that targets minimal muscle area and claims to ‘spot target fat.’
“Spot reduction refers to the claim that fat can be targeted for reduction but, from a specific area of the body through exercise of specific muscles in the desired area.”
But spot reduction is a myth. You can’t target and burn fat in one area (at least non-surgically).
Your body burns fat throughout the entire body simultaneously, it’s not going to pick one spot just because you worked out those muscles.
Treadmill And Elliptical Machines
What’s the most popular exercise in the world but also the most boring?
You guessed it… The treadmill!
I don’t know how people do it. Gym goers stay on the treadmill for 30 minutes, sometimes hours!
At my gym, it’s by far the most popular exercise! Every time I walk in the gym almost every treadmill and elliptical machine is taken… what a waste of time.
While it’s better than sitting on the couch, treadmills and ellipticals really don’t burn as many calories as the meters on the machine tell us.
On top of it, most people who are using these machines are just half-assing it.
Lifting heavy weights provides far more calorie burn and it lasts for hours after your workout rather than just ending when your workout does for the treadmill.
What You Should Be Doing At The gym
If there was only one exercise you could pick from and just do that for your entire workout, it’d be the deadlift.
Nothing works all the muscles in your entire body and gives you a killer calorie burn at the same time like the deadlift does.
Strength, muscle mass, endurance, fat loss, grit, determination, you name it… the deadlift does it all.
Using your leg drive to pick the weight up off the floor, your body will be ripping out new muscles to accommodate for the heavy weight.
Why does the deadlift work so well?
Because it’s a compound movement.
Compound lifts are essential for any gym goal. They help burn fat, build muscle, burn calories, boost your confidence, and much more.
They are way more effective than any machine or treadmill will ever be in your lifetime.
If you aren’t taking advantage of compound movements right now I suggest you try these:
- Sumo Deadlift
- Military Press
- Incline Bench
- Barbell Row
- Weighted Pull Ups
- Weighted Tricep Dips
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
Another very effective workout is utilizing high intensity interval training or HIIT.
The fundamentals of HIIT start out by doing all out cardio for 30 seconds. And I mean give it your all. Get that blood flowing and heart pumping!
You should already be exhausted after the first go.
Once those 30 seconds are up it’s time to rest for 30 seconds. Relax and breathe.
After 30 seconds of resting its back to another half minute of all out cardio! Give it your all every time. Once finished rest again.
Keep repeating this process for 10, 15, or 20 minutes, however long you want to burn some serious calories.
If you find yourself super exhausted, start taking 1-minute breaks instead of 30 seconds. There’s no point in going all out if you can barely move…
Not only is HIIT way more beneficial and burns more calories than normal cardio, but it’s also 10 times more fun!
The best forms of HIIT are
- Jump rope
- Battle ropes
- Jump Squats
- Mountain Climbers
Use a combination of these HIIT exercises together to get the best results!
Now get out there and do it!