These are the most overrated gym moves you’ve been wasting your time on

A personal trainer tells us what you should be doing instead.

Photo: iStock

Let’s face it. Everyone these days is time poor. Which is why when you make it to the gym (a mammoth task some days, we know) it’s important to maximise your time spent there, so you get the most out of your workout in the time you have.

When it comes to exercises, all too often I get asked the question ‘What is your number one exercise to develop better legs or a better six pack?’

And you might be surprised to find that, more often than not, the obvious exercises you think you should be doing could be swapped out for another, more efficient move. After all, to get a six pack you just need to do sit-ups, right? Wrong.

In my opinion, these are some of the most overrated exercises I see reps and reps of at the gym, and what you should swap them out for, if you’re looking for a different result.

The move: Sit-ups for abs

The sit-up is without a doubt the most overrated exercise when it comes to developing a six-pack. The theory that you can spot reduce fat from your abdominal region is a myth – despite what those late night infomercials might say. Of course sit-ups train your abs, but if your body fat is over 14 per cent they will not be visible enough. As sit-ups are an isolated exercise, you really have no place doing them if your body fat is too high.

The swap: Change up your nutrition first

A better solution – when it comes to developing a six-pack – can actually be found through not an exercise, but rather your nutritional and dietary habits. Focus on your lifestyle habits, along with bigger compound movements as these will be far more effective than completing multiple sets of sit ups.

The move: Leg extensions

This exercise certainly has its place – it’s great for the quads – when it comes to it’s effectiveness for body composition, there is no comparison to a proper, full range squat.

The swap: Squats, squats and more squats

Now, before you say ‘I don’t have the mobility or flexibility to squat deep’, let me assure you that with the right guidance and coaching from an experienced personal trainer, you will be surprised by your ability.

In general, training any body part through a lesser range of motion is unwise.

If you are looking for a bang-for-your-buck mass-building leg exercise, then the traditional barbell back squat should be the movement of choice and the leg extension an accessory.

The move: Standing barbell curls

Shock… Horror… Yes I did just write that. Standing barbell curls are definitely on this list, again not because they are a bad exercise, far from it, rather they have become the go-to when it comes to building bigger biceps. When it comes to training the biceps, one of the best ways to shock growth is to train the muscle through different parts of the strength curve.

Unlike the legs, our upper body – in particular those smaller muscles groups like the biceps and deltoids – require more exercise variation than the legs, which can get away with some squats, deadlifts and lunges for results.

The swap: A scott curl, also known as a preacher curl

This is a far more effective mass builder for the biceps than a standing curl, as you able to utilise a greater amount of load in a seated position and build the coveted biceps peak at once.

The move: Box squats

While this exercise does have it’s place, when it comes to it’s effectiveness for body composition goals, the squat (once again!) cannot be outdone.

Many use box squats because they apparently safer on the knees. This isn’t necessarily true. This is because, as I mentioned earlier, training any body part through a lesser range of motion is not ideal.

The swap: Traditional squats

This full-body exercise works out your quads, glutes and core – just ask anyone struggling from their reps at the gym yesterday, today.

Daine McDonald is a personal trainer and the founder of the Clean Health Institute.

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