5 Exercises and Gym Machines To Skip — and How to Work the Same Major Muscles

Fitness is always changing, with certain workouts gaining in popularity while other moves or equipment fall out of favor. Figuring out what the best workouts are can be a successful part of a person’s workout regime. But as fitness trends evolve, some exercises aren’t as effective as we once thought.

Avoid These

I started to think back about when I started to exercise on my own. It was around my freshman year in high school that my bestie and I bought memberships to our local YMCA. Here are some of the gym machines and exercises I used to do then that I don’t recommend now:

  • Overhead Extensions to work the triceps (the muscle in the back of your upper arm): This particular exercise doesn’t work the triceps as hard as you would want for an exercise.
  • Hip Abduction/Adduction Machine to work your hips and inner thigh muscles (called adductor muscles): This is not a natural movement by the body. One of the main purpose of these muscles is to stabilize us when standing or during movement.
  • Seated Torso Rotation Machine to work your abdominals and core: This is a good exercise to tone your abs but you take the risk of hurting your spine. This exercise forces the hips to stay stationary in what could result in injury.
  • Leg Extension Machine to work quadriceps, or the tops of your thighs: This machine is risky because the weight is on one end, forcing the body to make an unnatural movement by pushing the weight upwards, putting a lot of strain on the knees.
  • Wall Squats with an Exercise Ball to work the gluteus maximums or bum — but not very effectively. The ball resting against the wall takes all of the work away from the booty.

Try These Instead

Luckily there are lots of alternative exercises to choose from to work the same muscles. Consider these:

  • Triceps: Incline pushups and bench dips (form is important here with elbows staying close to the ribs for each of these moves)
  • Hip/Adductor Muscles: Leg lifts for both inner and outer thigh muscles. You can add a resistance band or leg weights when you need more of a challenge.
  • Abs/Core: Plank exercises are my favorite way to tone up the midsection. Be sure to include side planks to work all the abdominal muscles.
  • Quadriceps: Squats and lunges of all variations work the quads as well as other major muscles like the gluteus maximums, or booty.
  • Gluteus Maximums: I like wall squats and goblet squats to work my booty. Goblet squats are adding a dumbbell to your squat. Hold the ends of the weight in both hands and lift the weight over your head while you squat down. Remember to keep the weight in your heels and not your toes.

Do you have a favorite exercise that needed a makeover? If so, share what the old exercise is and what you replaced it with.

Resource: Shape Magazine

Photo credit: Shakeskc

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Read 9 Comments

  1. You pretty much nailed it.  As a general rule, doing isolation exercises (where you’re only moving one joint) isn’t as helpful to work that particular muscle as it would be to use a multi-joint exercise where you’re using that muscle along with a lot of the other bigger muscles to go along with it.

    1. Thanks Mike! I am a total fan of total body workouts, circuits especially. Thanks for reading 🙂 Angie

  2. I still use the hip adduction machine, but not the ABduction machine. This is because I have a problem with my hips being twisted outward from the many years of being extremely obese. As a result, when I lost weight and started riding my bike and walking, my abductor muscles become strong and tight, but the adductor muscles remained weak. I basically wasn’t using them at all, and it was very noticeable when I tried doing balance exercises – I fell over very easily. So, I use the adductor machine for that purpose. I do leg lifts frequently as well, though.

    1. Thanks Jstant01! (Jon?) I am glad the adduction machine works for you and that you know how to use it properly. That is one of the reasons I mentioned to skip this machine is because people tend to put too much weight on and with this movement not being a natural body movement, it can be double dangerous (if you don’t know what you are doing)!

      Great job and keep on working!!

      Thanks for reading 🙂 Angie

  3. I think the leg extension machine does have great use for strengthening your legs and knees, just has to be used properly and not with a lot of weight. I have had knee issues my whole life, and all of my doctors and PTs have put me on that machine, my current PTs included!

    1. Hi Ashley!
      I agree that this can be a beneficial machine, if the person is using it properly, s you mentioned. People tend to put too much weight on the machine because they don’t know how to use it. I am really glad your doctors and PT’s found something that works for you – bonus!!

      Thanks for reading 🙂 Angie

  4. I’ve never been a fan of leg extensions. While I’m not an expert, it seems to me you get the same benefits and more by running or doing other running-based activities (basketball, soccer, etc.). Or even skateboarding, which I did in my younger years, is a great thigh and leg workout.

    1. Absolutely right, Sven!! Those are great activities for people to do especially if they do not like to use the traditional weight machines. Variety is always important when doing any type of exercise. This will confuse the muscles, working them more efficiently and ultimately burning more calories!!

      Thanks! Angie

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