We’re all aware of the importance of working out. We’re reminded of it through health magazines, social media posts, and even the initiatives launched by the former First Lady. And, if there’s one thing that’s central to all workout routines, it is effectiveness. After all, all that huffing and puffing shouldn’t be for nothing. Unfortunately, some exercises might be keeping you from reaching your fitness goals. Here are a few such exercises.
1. Sit Ups
For the longest time, sit ups were believed to be the go-to exercise for toned abs and a slim waistline. However, sit ups are hard on your back.
When you’re performing a sit up, your curved spine is pushed against the floor and all the work goes into your hip flexors. Hip flexors are muscles that run from the thighs to the lumbar vertebrae in the lower back. And, when they’re too strong or tight, they tug on the lower spine and cause lower back discomfort.
2. Pilates Exercises
Although not an isolated exercise, pilates had to be mentioned since it has grown in popularity. And, if your goal is to improve posture and get a lean body structure, then pilates might not be the best way to go about it.
Research states that while pilates does improve flexibility, it has very little effects on body composition, health status, and posture.2 Instead, opt for resistance training which improves muscle tone and strength, improves posture, maintains flexibility, burns fat, builds stamina, and has a positive effect on mood.3
3. Resistance Band Exercises
Resistance bands have become all the rage across social media. It is claimed that they up the intensity and effectiveness of free weight exercises. However, studies state that there is no difference between the effectiveness of free weight exercises and that of these exercises with resistance bands.4
To add to this, the process of setting up the free weights with resistance bands is complicated and prone
4. Smith Machine Squats
Of the many exercise machines that you’ll find at the gym, especially if you’ve just begun working out, is the Smith machine. Popular for building lower body strength, the Smith machine doesn’t require you to control the movement of the barbell, since it has a fixed pathway already.
Studies compared squats using this machine to free weight squats. And, the results state that of the two, the latter has greater benefits when it comes to strengthening the plantar flexors, knee
5. Behind-The-Neck Lateral Pull Down
A popular variation of the lateral pull down is behind-the-neck lat pull down. It is said to increase back strength. However, research indicates that it isn’t a good lat pull down technique because of the high risk of injury associated with it. The exercise puts undue stress on the intervertebral discs of the neck and the rotator cuff muscle group. Hence, it might be a good idea to stick with a front lateral
When it comes to workouts and exercises, effectiveness can be subjective. What might work for one might not work for another. And, it’s important to work with a trainer to understand what options best suit you. Lastly, be sure to warm up and stretch properly to avoid injuries.
|↑1||Want a stronger core? Skip the sit-ups. Harvard Health Publishing.|
|↑2||Segal, Neil A., Jane Hein, and Jeffrey R. Basford. “The effects of Pilates training on flexibility and body composition: an observational study.”
|↑3||Resistance training – health benefits. Victoria State Government.|
|↑4||Saeterbakken, Atle H., Vidar Andersen, Maria K. Kolnes, and Marius S. Fimland. “Effects of replacing free weights with elastic band resistance in squats on trunk muscle activation.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 28, no. 11 (2014): 3056-3062.|
|↑5||Shoepe, Todd, David Ramirez, Robert Rovetti, David Kohler, and Hawley Almstedt. “The effects of 24 weeks of resistance training with simultaneous elastic and free weight loading on muscular performance of novice lifters.” Journal of human kinetics 29 (2011): 93-106.|
|↑6||Schwanbeck, Shane, Philip D. Chilibeck, and Gordon Binsted. “A comparison of free weight squat to Smith machine squat using electromyography.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 23, no. 9 (2009): 2588-2591.|
|↑7||Sperandei, Sandro, Marcos AP Barros, Paulo CS Silveira-Júnior, and Carlos G. Oliveira. “Electromyographic analysis of three different types of lat pull-down.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 23, no. 7 (2009): 2033-2038.|