You may feel like you’re busting your butt trying to get in shape, but if you’re not seeing results, there could be a chance that you’re… well, doing it wrong. If you’re going to go the trouble of getting up and working out every day (and by the way: Here are some perfect workouts to help you stay motivated), you might as well make sure you’re getting the most bang for your sweaty buck. Here’s a list of six common exercises that trainers say actually don’t do (jumping) jack.
1. Crunches: Getting in crunch formation and bending yourself upwards repeatedly puts a lot of strain on your back — think of it like lifting with your back instead of your knees, but on the ground. They also don’t really do anything for your deeper muscles, which are the most important for true core strength.
2. Behind-the-Head Lat Pull-Downs: The weight room can be an intimidating place. Don’t prove to everyone what a heavy lifting noob you are by doing this exercise, which can be dangerous if you don’t have good shoulder flexibility. Instead, pull the bar down in front of your head and shoulders.
3. Leg Extensions: Another weight room no-no: the leg extension machine. This movement puts stress on your kneecap, and it’s also a weird position to put your muscles in because it doesn’t replicate any movement you would actually do in daily life. There are way better ways to work your quads, like (we know you hate them but) squats.
4. Lunges (Without the Right Form): Doing lunges the wrong way is a surefire way to end up with knee issues. When you lunge, focus on keeping your front knee directly over your ankle, and imagine a straight line from the top of your head down to the back of your knee.
5. Tricep Dips: Reaching your arms behind you to grip a chair or table and dipping your bodyweight seems like an easy, no-equipment exercise, but it’s bad news for your shoulder joints. If you want to target your triceps, look into trying yoga push-ups or sun salutations for a better back-of-the-arms flow.
6. Squats (Without the Right Form): If you’re bending your knees to get into your squat, rather than pushing your hips back and letting them drive the downward movement, say it with us one more time: You’re doing it wrong. Plus, you’ll work your glutes and hamstrings a lot more with proper form.
What are your favorite effective, safe workout moves? Tweet your tips to us @BritandCo!