5 Exercises that could Waste your Time

It can be hard enough to find time to exercise, so when you do get to the gym, you want to know your efforts are worth missing The Great British Bake Off for.

Having seen many fitness flops over the years, I have compiled my top 5 time wasting exercises below:

No. 5: The Prone Glute Machine.  

This isn't the most embarrassing machine to use, but comes a close second. Not only will you be braced in a less than flattering posture, you'll be doing little to improve the functional strength of your rear-end. Also, the idea that you can reduce fat from this area by working it in isolation is a complete myth.

So save yourself the time it takes to get in and out of this behemoth of the gym floor, and work your glutes the way god intended with some body weight squats or reverse lunges instead.

The mighty glute machine

The mighty glute machine

No.4. The Triceps Kick Back.

If you are lucky enough to have all day to spend in the gym, or if you're at the pinnacle of your bodybuilding career, then exercises like the triceps kick back might have their place; in terms of function though, they're as good as useless, unless your hobbies include precision saluting. 

Instead of all that needless arm flapping, try some close hand push-ups and get more bang for your tricep buck.These hit your triceps, shoulders and core, and have a far superior metabolic effect to the kickback. You can do incline or full versions, depending on your current strength.

The Triceps Kick Back is a lot of time wasted for a relatively small muscle area.

The Close Hand Push Up will work your core, chest, shoulders and triceps.

The Close Hand Push Up will work your core, chest, shoulders and triceps.

No.3: The Reverse Crunch for 'lower' abs.

It's not that this is necessarily a bad exercise (although, given some current research, I tend to avoid any 'core' exercise that involves flexion of the lumbar spine), it's just that it is often sold as a good way to flatten your lower belly (the most stubborn area for most). Firstly, the concept of lower and upper abs is really a misnomer: The 'six pack' muscle, or rectus abdominis is a single muscular unit, and research by Dr Stuart McGill, professor of spine biomechanics at Waterloo University, Ontario has shown that the upper and lower regions are equally active during a standard crunch exercise - suggesting that each end cannot be independently activated. What's more, any idea that crunches, curl-ups or sit ups can spot reduce fat from the abdomen, has been well and truly buried in the vaults of fitness mythdom.

So get up off the floor and increase your aerobic exercise to burn more fat. Then try progressions of the plank to work your core in a more functional manner.

The incline plank below is an intermediate progression of the exercise.

No.2. The Abductor and Adductor Machines - aka: Inner and Outer Thigh machines

This one wins the prize for the most embarrassing exercise of them all. Not only is this the least glamorous movement on the gym floor, the exercise itself has very little functional transfer into real-world movements. Once again, just like the reverse crunch, users are often convinced they are magically melting fat from their inner thighs without breaking a sweat. So save your pride, and switch to moves like the side and reverse lunge to work your inner and outer thighs in a way they were designed for. 

The side lunge: a more functional way to target your adductor muscles, amongst others.

The side lunge: a more functional way to target your adductor muscles, amongst others.

No.1. The Standing Dumbbell Chest Fly

If your trainer has given you this clanger to work your chest, then you need to hire another one, and quickly. Not only will you look like you're doing a variation of the funky chicken, but you'll be on a fast route to nowhere in terms of chest development.

As we all learned at school, gravity acts downward; so exercises that work the chest, which generally involve horizontal flexion of the shoulder, need to be loaded perpendicular to the muscle fibres of this muscle group (give or take some angular variations). With dumbbells and barbells, this has to be achieved by placing the body in a horizontal or angled position. The standing dumbbell chest fly may look like a chest workout, but is nothing more than a poor shoulder exercise and mobility movement.

Instead, try some simple push-ups, or dumbbell bench press for effective and functional pectoral training.

The standing dumbbell chest fly will not work your chest.

The standing dumbbell chest fly will not work your chest.