Whether you discovered your workout routine online, got it from a friend, or found it in a fitness magazine years ago, chances are you’ve been doing the same exercise moves for quite some time.
You may not even have to think about it at this point — it could be like second nature to you. But maybe you should think twice about the moves you’re doing.
Chances are, you’re spending time on exercises that may not be giving you the results you’re looking for. So we asked trainers Faheem Mujahid, owner of Influence Atelier training facility in Miami, and Adam Rosante, fitness and nutrition coach in New York City and creator of Strong Body Guide, for their thoughts on what exercise moves get the best results — and which ones may be just a waste of time.
Skip This: Leg Press
“While this machine can be a great tool for strengthening and targeting your glutes and hamstrings, it shuts off other key muscles from engaging,” Mujahid says.
Try That: Chair Squats
“Not only are chair squats more functional, they teach the muscles in your body to work together to achieve its full range of motion,” Mujahid says.
Skip This: Smith Machine Squats
“The machine forces you into a slight backward lean, which creates a sheering force on the knee joint,” says Rosante. “That’s a recipe for injury.”
Try That: Dumbbell Goblet Squats
“This exercise allows you to squat freely and drill proper movement patterns under the load from the dumbbell,” says Rosante. “Do it barefoot and you’ll also strengthen the muscles in your feet, while working on improved ankle mobility — both of which are hugely important if you’re someone’s who’s constantly in heels.”
Skip This: Leg-Extension Machine
“It’s great if all you want to do is strengthen your quadriceps — and only your quadriceps” says Mujahid.
Try That: Step-Ups
“This helps in preparing the body for everyday movements, such as stepping onto a curb, into a car, or climbing up a flight of stairs,” says Mujahid. “The best thing you can do for your body is to train it to meet normal, day-to-day demands.”
Skip This: Bodyweight Donkey Kicks
“They’re not doing much to help build your glutes,” Rosante says.
Try That: Weighted Deadlifts and Split Squats
“For women looking to build a firmer, rounder backside, it helps to understand that what gives you that shape is, largely, your gluteus maximus — the biggest muscle in your body,” Rosante says. “For this muscle to actually respond, you need to challenge it with heavier weights than you may be used to.”
Skip This: Lat Pull-Down Machine
“Yes, this exercise is great for targeting the latissimus dorsi and lower/middle trapezius,” says Mujahid, “but the seated position limits the activation of other supporting muscles, including muscles in your core and lower body.”
Try That: Stability Ball Back Extensions With Resistance-Band Pull-Downs
“The proper alignment for this exercise requires a high activation of your lower body — read glutes — and core muscles,” Mujahid says. “In addition, the instability of the stability ball increases the degree of difficulty.”
Skip This: Overhead Press
“Driving a weighted load overhead rams the head of your humerus into your acromion joint,” Rosante says. “If you’re someone with existing shoulder injuries or someone who has very little space in the joint, you could find yourself with an impingement and even an eventual tear in your tendon.”
Try That: Front and Lateral Raises and Band Pull-Aparts
“These moves will shape the shoulder muscles without the same risks from the loaded overhead press,” says Rosante. “While it’s tremendously important to maintain full mobility in the shoulder joint, the risks of consistently pressing a heavy weight overhead may outweigh the benefits.”