Useless Exercise

Want to know what makes me kind of go crazy? (other than Ryan Gosling one day showing up at my doorstep) 
Sorry, I digress. ( I saw “Crazy. Stupid. Love” this weekend which was amazing!)
 Back to what makes me crazy; its seeing useless ‘stuff’ in the gym.  Most of these exercises involve machines, and let me start by saying I do totally undertsand that some people aren’t connosiours in the weight room, and to be honest, the machines are the most attractive when it comes to not looking like a silly guy throwing weights around. With that said, I also think it is important for everyone to hire a person trainer for a period of time at some point in the life (that is if you truly care about your health) in order to learn the ‘basics’ of form, breathing, set up and benefits. see also : Compound VS Isolation Exercises
This is the one exercise on the list that I probably see the most of and sadly, it is also the most ineffective. Whenever I see an individual performing minute after minute of crazy crunch variations, I cry just a little inside. So you do hundreds of sit ups a day (NICE JOB!) yet your abs are not coming through and you wonder why.  There was a study recently published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.  The scientist investigated the impact of 6 weeks of abdominal training on reducing abdominal fat. The abdominal training group of people were asked to maintain their typical diet and perform 6 weeks 5 days a week of  the Bent-Knee Sit Up, Lateral Trunk Flexion, Oblique Crunch, Stability Ball Crunch, Stability Ball Twist and Abdominal Crunch for 2 sets of 10 reps. At the same time, the non-abdominal training group of people were asked not to perform any abdominal exercises and maintain their typical diet. THE RESULTS? There was NO difference in the abdominal fat between the group performing the exercises and the group who did not
Furthermore, situps and crunches can increase low back pain. The spine can only bend so much and so far before major back problems ensue. 
So, where do you go from here if you want abs? I hate to say it but abs are made in the kitchen folks.  Check out this post “All about abs” to see my tips and tricks for working the abs (No crunching involved!)
Oh, hey….heres a core conditioning circuit a la yours truly
There is no set formula and of course all of our bodies are different with regards to exercise, nutrition and genetics. Train properly, respect your body, train smart,  eat clean and those abs will come through its just all about consistency with cardio, strength training, proper diet and focus.  see also : Get OUT of your exercise rut!
Ladies, you know these machines “good girl, bad girl” machines. I say “ladies” because I rarely see men use these machines.  I get it; you aren’t too familiar with weight training and you see this magical machine that will transform your inner and outer thighs (which happens to be the ‘problem’ area for most women) right? Ok, well I want to clear some things up about this magical machine. I sometimes want to chuckle to myself when I see women sit on this machine for minutes about minutes just doing endless repetitions. All that pops into my head is Suzanne Sommers “thigh master” videos!
The ADDuctor machine is designed to work the inner thigh region.
The ABductor machine is designed to work the outer thigh region.
The problem? These machines don’t have nearly enough resistance to do a damn thing. Moreover, the range of motion is extremely limited thus limiting you from achieving any sort of result on this machine. This machine mimicks not one movement that our bodies perform in real life. 
  • What should you do?
    • Lunges (Backwards, frontwards, static, walking, single leg ball wall lunges, lateral lunges)
    • Squats (back squats, front squats, narrow, wide, sumo stance, ball wall, Bulgarian)
    • Deadlifts (Romanian deadlift, single leg deadlift, stiff legged deadlift, sumo deadlift)
    • Bridges (single leg, barbell, Band glute bridges, medicine ball)
    • Other (wall sits, Plyometrics, leg press, step ups


A combination of these lower body exercises will work those inner and outer thigh muscles much more effectively AND get the added bonus of burning more calories because you are working more muscles than just the abductor/adductor muscles.  Squats especially are such a functional movement in that you squat down and bend over almost everyday. We always want to focus on exercises that mimic the ways our bodies are SUPPOSED to move in nature and everyday life.
Elliptical Machine (mainly if you are looking for fat loss)
Sure, I use the elliptical, but I do not use it in the way that some people use it. I hop on before or after my workout for 10 minutes (either/or) for a warm up or cool down. How many of you walk into the gym and head to the elliptical machine with some good tunes and a magazine? Why? Beacause its easy. Yes, I said it! 

Sure you will sweat on the elliptical, and of course there are certain circumstances where I WOULD reccomned the elliptical to a client; those who are overweight or just got cleared to exercise from an injury, the ellitpcal is a good, low impact choice) HOWEVER, for those of you who are looking for fat loss, results and effectiveness at its finest? The elliptical is not going to help you in the least   Here’s why. There’s really not much range of motion. The strides you use while on the elliptical are quite short. This is turn leads to weak hip flexor muscles and and weak glutes. I can honestly say I have not seen one person completely transform their body composition and physique (or even lose a drastic amount of weight) by using the elliptical machine.

So why do we use it? The calorie burn on the screen goes up like crazy and its always a good feeling to see that number climb up right? It will get your heart rate up pretty fast as well as allow you to get your sweat on. Sounds like a magical combo? The problem is that the machine does not allow you to work as hard as you could and also does not challenge your body mechanically. Don’t take it from me. take it from Fitness Expert Alwyn Cosgrove who states

“The problem is not the elliptical itself — it’s just that it tends to allow/promote momentum (as most people have the resistance too low) from bodyweight alone. So unless you crank up the resistance and actually produce some force and/or MOVE your bodyweight – it’s nothing but momentum. So if you’re not actively using your muscles to produce some sort of force you aren’t burning many calories.” (source)

  • What should you do?
    • TABATA 
    • The 480 Workout
    • Bodyweight fat blast workout
    • Metabolic Style Workouts
    • Crazy treadmill HIIT
    • Kettlebells!


My favorite way to perform cardio is sprints on the treadmill OR putting together some bodyweight exercises, taking out my timer and creating it! For instance
Complete 3 rounds of each 40 seconds work/20 seconds rest. Total 27 minutes!
Circuit 1
1. Burpees (push up at bottom)
2. Mountain climbers/floor jacks
3. Narrow and wide jump squats (alternating
Circuit 2
1. Bench hop overs
2. Alternating backwards lunge w/ front kick
3. TRX jump squats
Circuit 3
1. Goblet squats (lighter weight)
2. Speed skaters
3. Burpee to jack at the top (instead of the jump)
The Leg Extension Machine
Again, if we are talking from a functional standpoint, this exercise indeed makes my list! Again, this is just MY opinion on the machine. If you use it and like it and see results from using it, by all means go for it! This is just my personal list here. 
Exercises that I perform these days and also provide for my clients, I try to make easy in the sense that they are moving in the way our bodies were built and designed to move. There is no point in performing exercises that not only will inhibit your strength while completing your day to day activities, but we also want to look toward the future and build a better body to keep you lean and strong as you age.  I cannot think of one movement that this exercise mimics in daily life. It is the act of locking your hip into a flexed position and involves no movement of the hip and ankle; both of which we should be focusing on when building lower body strength. 
The leg extension machine is also quite dangerous and can just destroy your knees. Because of the resistance that is placed near your ankles this leads to high amounts of torque being applied to your knee joint every time you lower the weight.  DUring this exercise, stress is heightened to the ACL joint as well. Again, depending on your goals and strength/health of your knees, the leg extension may very well be a part of your regimen and you may enjoy it. Personally? I stay away! Anyway, I find more full body, compound lower body exercises to be 10x more effective!
Tracy Anderson
Sorry, guys. Again, my opinion! But any trainer that has women lift nothing more than 3lb weights…get a life, seriously.  (really, she said that right here!) I am wondering how she sleeps at night giving out this advice. Shes skinny, so what. I care about strength and truly believe in the physique changes and body transformation that comes with LIFTING weight, not looking at it. 
Want to tone? CHECK IT OUT! 🙂
What is something useless you see at the gym these days?
Paleo Pumpkin Coconut Turkey Chili up next!

Tags: #exercise #workout

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