4 Popular Exercises Experts Say to Avoid

4 Popular Exercises Experts Say to Avoid

Going into the gym prepared with a solid, well-structured workout plan leads to a successful, efficient sweat session.

But determining which exercises are best to meet your fitness goals can be as difficult as doing 100 consecutive Burpees. Many popular exercises, like crunches or bicep curls, make people feel comfortable, as they’re easy, familiar choices – though that doesn’t necessarily equate to desired results. Just because everyone’s doing it, doesn’t mean you should too!

“It’s important to measure the risk-to-benefit ratio of any exercise,” says Susie Crossland-Dwyer, strength & run coach, and founder of Studio S in Cincinnati, OH.

She recommends avoiding exercises that isolate a single muscle or group that have little benefit, but high risk of injury.

So, what are these strength exercises trainers suggest steering clear from? Here are three of the most common, and what you can do as an alternative exercise:

Skip: Crunches

You’ve heard all the risks and negatives associated with crunches, and they still ring true – they’re simply inferior to other core exercises.


“A lot of exercise enthusiasts do crunches ad nauseam without really increasing their core strength,” says Crossland-Dwyer.

Plus, the move is known to lead to neck pain, back pain, and even issues with the hip.

Substitution: Pilates Roll-Up

Skip: Hip Abductor Machine

“People often think that machines make it easier to perform the exercise movement and manipulate the body because they look user-friendly,” says Nikki Snow, a Les Mills International trainer based in Chicago.

But if you’re working on your hip abductors, performing strength exercises on a machine is simply inferior to free weights, or even utilizing your body weight.

“The abductor machine — aka thigh master machine — packs a big burn, but there are more effective exercises that can isolate the side glutes and hips safe and effectively.”

Substitution: Sumo Squat

Related: 3 Strength Exercises You Need to Add to Your Routine

Skip: Leg Press

The leg press is a feel-good machine, as you can usually lift more weight than you could doing a standing squat, for example, giving you that Hulk-like feeling of power.


But that increased weight is exactly why you should eliminate the leg press from your circuit says Greg Justice, MA, owner of AYC Health and Fitness in Kansas City, KS.

“The biggest problem I see with the leg press is the inclination to put too much weight on the machine, potentially causing the pelvis to rotate away from the back rest as you lower the weight. This can cause a herniated disc.”

The leg press also removes stability from the exercise, putting all the pressure on your quads, rather than hitting the hamstrings and glutes at the same time.

Substitution: Bulgarian Split Squat

Photo Credit: Microgen/Shutterstock.com; Jacob Lund/Shutterstock.com; Kiselev Andrey Valerevich/Shutterstock.com

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