10 Exercises That Suck
Replace these time-wasters for safer workouts and more muscle.
6. THE TRICEPS KICKBACK Never mind that it's a lift women often perform with soup cans, the kickback is just too easy. The way your body is positioned—with the arm parallel to the floor and the elbow pointing up—the triceps only really have to work to lock the elbow out at the end of the lift's range of motion. And since the weight you're forced to use is so light, you won't get stronger (unless you normally have trouble lifting soup cans).
DO THIS INSTEAD: The Warren press. With a shoulder-width grip, grab a bar and lie on your back on the floor. Hold the bar overhead and begin lowering it in a straight line to right above your neck. Allow your upper arms to lower as in a bench press and your forearms to simultaneously bend back toward your head as in a triceps extension. Stop when either your triceps touch the floor or the bar is six inches off your neck, and then reverse the motion. That's one rep. Combining a compound and isolation movement
allows you to blast the tri's with heavy weight.
7. THE ROLLING SHRUG You know this move: Roll your shoulders forward, then shrug to your ears, then roll your shoulders back behind you before lowering the weights. Whoever invented this exercise forgot one key thing: Gravity pulls downward, not forward or back. So not only will you look like you're going into convulsions, you'll take tension off the traps, and you'll grind your shoulder joints.
DO THIS INSTEAD: The seated dumbbell clean. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing behind you, and sit at the edge of a bench. Lean forward 45 degrees and then explosively straighten your body, shrugging the weights and then bending your elbows and flipping your wrists up so that you finish in the bottom position of a shoulder press. Reverse the motion to return to the starting position. That's one rep. Seated cleans work the entire upper back, traps, and shoulders, giving you a thick-necked look without damaging your shoulders.
8. THE LATERAL RAISE While most guys use bad form anyway, swinging the weights up to shoulder level as if they were birds flapping their wings, this exercise blows even if it's done right. The shoulders get plenty of work from presses, pullups, squats, deadlifts, and just about any other exercise you do. The lateral raise just isn't necessary.
DO THIS INSTEAD: The muscle clean and press. This may be the best shoulder builder of all time, and it works so many other muscles that it's also one of the most efficient moves you can do in a time-crunch workout. To perform it, just think of a clean and press, but with no thrust from the hips: Use a shoulder-width grip and perform an upright row explosively (keep your lower body in one place). Then, still using the momentum generated with your shoulders, rotate your forearms to the ceiling and press the
bar straight overhead.
9. ANY CRUNCH PERFORMED ON A CRUNCH MACHINE Crunches are a poor ab exercise, period, given that abs don't perform crunching motions in daily life. Adding a machine to the mix only makes the move less effective. Machines limit the involvement of the lower- back muscles, which the abs aren't designed to contract without. This leads to muscle imbalances and—you guessed it—injury.
DO THIS INSTEAD: The modified Turkish getup. Hold a dumbbell in your left hand and lie on the floor with your left leg bent and left foot flat on the floor. Your right leg should be straight and your right arm angled 45 degrees to your side. Now raise your torso off the floor, keeping your left arm perpendicular to the floor. Once you are up, turn to your right side and raise your hips off the floor, supporting yourself with your
right arm and right leg (you will be balancing on the side of your right foot). This old-school move works all your muscles, enhancing core strength and your six-pack.
10. ANY EXERCISE DONE STANDING ON A BOSU BALL "Functional-training" gurus will tell you that performing your lifts on an unstable surface, such as a Bosu, will build more muscle than lifting with your feet fl at on the ground. It won't. The ball makes your body so unstable, you can't handle much weight. So you'll burn fewer calories, work fewer muscles, and end up training half as hard.
DO THIS INSTEAD: Anything!