Home > Body Sculpting > 15 Most Useless Workouts Ever

15 Most Useless Workouts Ever

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When putting together a workout routine for yourself, it is always important to do so with your own personal goals in mind.

While all exercise will help you get into better shape and lead a healthy lifestyle, the things you’re trying to accomplish need to affect which exercises you choose to do on a regular basis.

However, there are certain times in every fitness fan’s life where they choose an exercise to accomplish a goal and see less than adequate results – if they see results at all.

There are certain techniques that may seem worthwhile, but in reality you’d be better off picking one of many viable alternatives.

There are a number of shockingly popular exercises that aren’t just “slow” with regards to the results they produce – they’re all but worthless in even the best situations.

1. The Triceps “Bench” Dip

The triceps “bench” dip requires you to sit on one of two benches that have been placed in positions parallel to one another.

With your arms on the bench behind you and your feet on the bench in front, you raise and lower yourself in a series of repetitions.

One of the “benefits” of this exercise is that it allows you to adjust the bench heights to allow for a fuller range of motion.

In reality, no height adjustment will make this exercise any less worthless than it already is.

The issue is that you’re using a great deal of force to accomplish very little.

There are better techniques for your arms, back and core that don’t require the amount of strain triceps “bench” dips are known to force on unsuspecting fitness buffs.

Instead of using the triceps “bench” dip, try doing regular dips as an alternative. Most people only choose to go with triceps “bench” dips in the first place out of a lack of equipment, lack of necessary strength or both.

You can accomplish much the same thing with two chairs in a similar position. You can also use other techniques like variants of pushups to focus on your arms and core the way that triceps “bench” dips are supposed to in the first place. As with many of the exercises on the list, these dips require a lot of effort for practically no results. The only thing you’re doing is wasting your time.

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  • boofdsfsdfsd

    Its good to super set this with squats all these workouts are good..

  • jamesg

    Lunges are actually very dangerous if not done right since they put incredible stress on the ACL.

    • Anna Kuennen

      actually EVERY exercise is dangerous if not performed in a correct manner.

      • Josh Little

        I would correct you both in that even when done correct almost all weight lifting bears some risk. The main idea of this article is useless workouts by witch he really means useless individual exercises. This is the flaw in his article because there are those listed exercises that bear more inherent risk than others but with that risk also come more potential benefit. The Squat weather 90 degrees or not has a large element of risk simply by having a large amount of weight on your back. Allot can go wrong but as long as its done right and nothing goes wrong its got tons of benefit. Therefore it can be problematic but its far from useless. Upright rowing in the traditional sense hands down elbows up is just plain asking for shoulder impingement and has no benefit whatsoever that is a useless exercise.

  • squatter

    they are right you don’t want to go to 90 degrees on your squats. you should go below that

    • majik

      as long as there’s proper form (alignment).

    • Derek Beech

      what! what is your scientific reasoning behind this outside of going below 90% hits your ass more, most powerlifters have big butts have you noticed, most powerlifters go below 90%. Also using extremely heavy weight while going below 90% puts extreme stress on the knee ligaments, so in order to work your squats properly 90% is perfect. keeps the stress of your knee joints at a minimum while also working your quadriceps without danger of growing that huge butt…

      • jx1971

        yeah, and the big butt translates to big power. power is generated from the glutes and hips, so keep the little butt, and the little power…

      • Tony Jiménez

        when you drop below 90 degrees you engage you hamstrings to activate thus relieving your acl of “extreme stress” by not going below 90 you actually cause more stress on the knees since your hamstrings are not able to properly active thus leaving your acl to take the load of your “knee bend” squats.

        • RickEll

          Thank you for explaining that so I didn’t have to; thumbs up and I wish I could bump your reply as well.

      • Mark St John

        Derek you need to quit posting things like this because you are completely wrong. Squats below parallel is how they are done. Even a small child knows that, watch one pick up something off the floor, they dip below parallel.

      • anonymous

        Derek since when is having a big butt a bad thing? It’s as signature of a strongman as a big chest. It’s the most powerfull area of the body.

    • jacc

      Yes!

      Olympic lifters squat HUGE loads well below parallel and suffer the lowest incidence of injury of any sport contested at the international level. (Granted, when the do get injured, it’s usually catastrophic, but it’s rare and the vast majority of us aren’t lifting 2, 3 or even 4 times our body weight, but I digress).

      Squatting happens between your knees, not above them and requires adequate mobility and flexibility in the hips, hams, glutes, ankles and quads. Done properly, are less stressful on the knees than trying to stop the momentum above or at parallel.

      Not everyone can squat deep, but that should be what you are working towards. Before load, aim for full range of motion, be it air squats, or empty bar, or at most well below body weight.

      Happy squatting!

      • Wolphi

        When done corrrectly, there is 0 strees on the knee. I had a ruptured pateller tendon and one of the first things I could do was squats because they put very little stress on my knees. I couldn’t walk down stairs properly, but I could squat like mad.

    • big banana

      You got that right!

    • Christopher

      I go around parellel. Beyond that, my knees start to hurt, and I get pain in my lower back.

      It really depends on the person.

      • ImATrainer

        Lower the weight and practice your form every once in a while. You may see the difference over time.
        I’ve seen many people try to lift too much weight and effectively ruin their form. It’s actually quite common!

      • Chris Rose

        You’ve probably got multiple muscle imbalance, need to do corrective stretching or you have pre-existing injuries from years of bad form.

      • Jethro

        That’s what I thought too. Then I lowered the weight and starting using a Smith machine. The Smith helps you keep your weight on your heels and your hips/back in proper alignment. You might be able to go lower than you think.

        • mlang46

          I have never been a fan of the smith machine but I found that I can go lower without hurting my knees or back when I use it and it does help me keep my weight on my heels. Still if you have the right build ( SHORT FEMUR AND FLEXIBLE HAMSTRINGS) free squats are more effective

      • Bill Penn

        Push your knees out farther when you’re in the bottom position. That will tend to disengage the knee joint and put most of the stress on your stronger hip extensors (glutes/hamstrings). Properly done, the squat puts no stress on the knee, and the ACL and PCL are essentially unloaded.

  • Keith Allen

    a round back deadlift is a deadlift with bad form. you should never do a deadlift with a rounded back. deadlifts are a great full body exercise when performed with proper form

    • Scott

      A round back deadlift is NOT necessarily bad when performed expertly.

      Our spines are designed to flex and designed to bear load, but they are not designed to be going in and out of flexion during load.

      Generally, round back deadlifts are the result of losing proper form. When the spine goes into increased flexion under load a great amount of shearing forces are placed on the discs (spacers) between vertebrae which can destroy the disc(s).

      However, Roundback deadlifts can be performed safely by individuals with extremely strong midsections. It is a technique variation used safely by some elite deadlifters such as Konstantin Konstantinov shown here deadlifting 426kg (939lbs) without a belt.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wh-ikyBAQr8

      The key is to have the abdominal strength to brace strongly enough to prevent movement in the spine during the lift. If the lift starts with a small healthy degree of flexion in the back, the lift can be performed safely as long as the lifter does not allow spinal flexion to increase throughout the lift.

  • Ed Grovenor

    As a qualified personal trainer with a degree in sports coaching, I can tell you that squatting to 90 degrees is no longer considered risk-laden. Lots of studies have been done on this in the last few years, you should read them.
    What actually stresses the knee is when the knee becomes further forward than the toes, so your form should utilise a “butt-out” or “sitting back” method that keeps your knees from encroaching forward too far. Sitting back allows the gluteus maximus – the powerful hip extensors – to immediately become a part of the lift, particularly increasing activation in a deeper squat. Sitting back to minimize anterior translation of the knees will also decrease torque at the knee joints (Chiu, 2009).

    • majik

      not necessarily… while I agree that it’s fine to go lower than 90 degrees, the “sit-down” squats (movement at the ankles, knees, and hips with the knees moving forward – slightly – to activate the quads more) can be just as safe if performed properly.

      • Anna Kuennen

        Ed Grovenor is dead right and the science is there all over to back it up. And in any case… if your knees move forward “slightly” as you say then your not allowing them to track forward of your kness anyway… which is the point he was making about over stressing the knee joint.

    • Jeff Williams

      The issue that you state is valid except for the fact that femur length will have a say in the knee going past the toe. If there is bad form then we can say this is true or you don’t sit back on your heels, but the fact that anatomically people have varying lengths of femurs will cause a fight against your argument.

      • Anna Kuennen

        No matter the length of the femur… if you learn to do squats properly then you will never have an issue with them.

        • Wolphi

          True, just keep your center of gravity over the center of your foot and all will be good for squats.

      • Josh Little

        This is exactly what I was trying to say in my reply but you said it better. Most of this stuff is a bit subjective. Most people who have pain from squatting are either not doing it correctly or can not because of poor mobility. I would guess its a bit of both in most cases.

    • edenifill

      Well said. Pushing off your heels, which is the result of “butt-out” or “sitting back” should take the pressure off the knees. It seems to me that what makes most of these exercises “useless” is bad form.

    • Tin Man

      The operative words there is “Proper Form” — I would also add that it has to be weight appropriate for the person doing the squats. Two things that most people in the gym don’t do very well.

    • John Grey

      Post one from a peer-previewed Physiology journal.

      Kinesiology Today (Vol 6# 31) said beyond 90 degrees is dangerous to a sampling of 240 power-lifters.
      This is not some “muscle magazine” where one guy does that with 225lbs for 25 reps; but peer-reviewed science. IF you can find such an article, I can remain very open minded to that point.

      • Josh Little

        Well how is this for science for thousands of years folks in the third world who don’t own or have access to things like chairs spend all das working in the fields and sitting in a well below 90 degree squat, lifting and carrying very heavy loads and even the sickest and disease ridden among them can scamper up and down mountains at elevations of 15,000 feet and more because they have the mobility we westerners lack because among other things we spend our lives sitting in chairs. If you cant squat below a certain angle it because you lack mobility and flexibility somewhere along the chain pure and simple. That is the underlying problem and can be fixed. I had six knee surgeries after a road side bomb in Afghanistan and was told id need a knee replacement. Well I not only never needed one but I run a 5.5 min mile and squat well below parallel and the squat is what fixed the problem. I have spent enough time in nursing school to tell you “peer reviewed science” is not all its cracked up to be. If you eat the diet suggested on the BS food pyramid or plate or what ever swill the FDAis cranking out these days I hope you enjoy type 2 diabetes cause that’s where it leads. Now common sense applies and a traditional back squat with a barbell may not be the best for everyone but that has more to do with the position of the bar than anything else. My favorite is bear hug Squats with a Sandbag or goblet squats or shouldering the sandbag and squatting.

    • Bill Penn

      Excellent points and reasoning, thanks for clearing this up for us!

  • Bo Guss

    1. Tricep bench dips is not completely useless. It’s till works the triceps, with more effort though. I personally do various levels of pushups. ie hands close, wide, as well as closer in, and further forward. But to say tricep bench dips are “useless” makes this tip useless.

    2. It’s not what your doing, it’s HOW your doing them. Technique is everything when working out. You can get a good ab work out the old fashion way, so long as it’s done correctly. Proper crunch…legs at 90 degree (whether your feet are flat against a wall, or freely at 90 degrees), using your core to left your shoulders and upper back off the floor, and continue engaging them as you go back down. Never go flat until the exercise is done. Variation is key as well.

    3. I agree with this one. Too much in play with this workout. You don’t end up isolating your abs/core. You end up using your legs, hip flexors, body momentum to do one crunch. Taking away from most of the impact on the target, your abs.

    4. Same reason as 3.

    5. Again, it’s all about technique. NEVER round off your back or shoulders. Bad form, doesn’t work the intended muscles. And can cause unnecessary injury.

    6. This isn’t completely useless, you still get to work out your legs and glutes if done properly. But I find free weight squats a better work out. Not only does it isolate the key muscles better, it also helps with your balance.

    7. I go to 90 degrees, or very close to it. I agree with this. But again, it’s all about technique. Back straight, shoulders square, eyes forward. And never more weight than what my regiment requires. ie. not looking to be a jacked up body builder.

    • Kevin Lee Arnold

      I agree with you on number 6. I use leg press as a great burner after doing my squats. Just don’t lrt your lower back come off the pad and leg press is a good addition.

      • RickEll

        Exactly, AFTER squats, I do leg press with my feet relatively close together. I’d also reccomend 20 rep sets; ouchy.

    • Noel Halverson

      on number 3 i always figured sit ups were never really meant for abs. more like your quads or glutes, at least when at a 45 or something…. idk

  • Frank McGar

    I fixed my back by learning how to deadlift properly. Counter-intuitive to the avg. gym rat, but tight and weak hamstrings, glutes, and hips often manifest in back issues. Learning the deadlift forced me to focus on these areas, which most people don’t do. They don’t call it the “health lift” for nothing!

    • Edward O’Shea

      Great point!

    • Justin King

      True, only the HEAVY weight can exercise the interior muscle that keeps the frame and posture in good shape.

  • majik

    actually… you’re wrong about the tricep dips.. i’ll be the first to admit you don’t need to put your feet up, but they are an effect tricep workout. it’s actually the regular dip that should be avoided to save your shoulder joints. – background in biomechanics and kinesiology.

    • BB53

      The bench triceps did obviously puts far more stress on your shoulder joints than a regular dip.

  • Justin King

    After reading many books on this subject, the ideas offered here are actually excellent.
    Whereas most of the time, these articles are tabloid pablum, always twisting with the trends of any given year.
    ——- BRAVO.

  • Will Mann

    I have to so much to say about almost everyone of the writer’s points but I don’t have the time to express all of my thoughts. But I’ll give a few of them. I think it is funny how they warn people of being misguided by myths when they just created more of them! How can some of these be the worst when you have people standing upright on a bosu ball performing external shoulder rotations with a dumbbell? Talk about useless. But it wasn’t mentioned. But I guess the leg press is useless because you can never use a fixed ROM machine at any point in any workout?! And recheck your facts on eating late. Its mainly about carbs, not just calories. So your saying spike your insulin right before you sleep? thats fine? Hmmm. I’ll quote this article “12 Laws of Fat burning from Chris Aceto and Jim Stoppani, PhD….

    Never Eat Carbs Before Bed

    “Once again, it’s about hormones. At night your insulin sensitivity decreases, meaning your body must release more insulin than usual to put any carbohydrates you eat at night to use in the body. And by now you know that higher insulin
    levels can decrease fat-burning and enhance fat storage. In addition,
    the body naturally produces a fat-liberating hormone called growth
    hormone (GH) within the initial 90 minutes of sleep.

    GH not only increases fat-burning but is required to build mass and strengthen the
    immune system. Yet carbs put a damper on GH release, so it’s ideal to go
    to bed under one of two scenarios: on an empty stomach or, even better,
    having consumed only protein, no carbs. This allows blood glucose – the
    high-tech name for digested carbs circulating in the blood – to remain
    low, which facilitates the rise in nocturnal GH production.

    Do This: Don’t eat anything about three hours before bed. A better option is to eat
    only protein meals the final four hours before bed, with one protein
    meal immediately before bedtime that includes only protein, such as a
    casein shake, low-fat cottage cheese or chicken breast. You can,
    however, eat a small serving of vegetables here if you wish.”

    Okay, I’m done haha

  • GymTime

    This list was made by someone who does crossfit …

    • Andreea Macoveiciuc

      Haha well said!

  • David Michael

    Leg presses make my legs look better, rock hard, and big!

    • Josh Little

      Yes they can but they are not very functional. Squats especially overhead squats require incredible core strength to stabilize and balance the weight. This translates to be able to being able to carry and balance other heavy loads as well as developing good range of motion. Machines that lock you in place and Isolate a muscle group can work really good at just that. The problem is not every machine will work good for everybody. We are to diverse and for some they just don’t work. Without using free weights and body weight exercises to learn balance and stability you are short changing yourself. There is a reason you can leg press far more that you can squat. If you can squat 400 you could probably leg press 1000. That should tell you something.

      • aztekk

        If you want good core strength, you should do core excercises and not rely on something like the squat. If you can squat 400 lbs and leg press 1000, it should definitely tell you something. Something like “wow, thats pretty good” For the record, I have great quads and glutes and I dont squat at all. And of course your going to be able to use alot more weight on the leg press, its alot safer and easier when you dont have to balance a trillion pounds on your upper back (And yet, its touted as a “natural movement”. How is it natural to have so much weight on your upper back?

  • ScottL

    Some of these are ridiculous. Of course round-back deadlifts are a bad exercise, because it’s not even an exercise. It’s a deadlift with bad form.

    Some people don’t do every single exercise only for functional strength as this article suggests, but we do them to grow and sculpt our muscles. Leg presses may not add to your everyday functionality, but they are a perfectly good exercise for adding mass and strength to the quads. Bench dips are a fine exercise for those new to weightlifting to start sculpting their triceps, or even for the more experienced lifter to finish off their triceps workout with a final burn, or to pre-exhaust the tris before other exercises. If you feel strain in the shoulders while doing them, then don’t do them.

  • Elizabeth Rockett

    My question would be: Is there a benefit for beginners to use this, while those already in shape get less benefit? Looking at the reduced stress on leg/ankle joints that are either not strong enough to be stable or not strong enough to complete the motion (as if someone were really heavy and just starting a program).

    • Noel Halverson

      everyone has to start somewhere, no one expects you to start leg presses or squats at 400 lbs start at a small weight or perhaps body weight. you can do skateboard squats to start and have some form. and you will never not get a benefit from working out, granted as you progress you will need to “upgrade” your workouts by adding weight and whatnot to get the max out of your workout. im no expert though.

    • Josh Little

      If your trying to get into shape or become athletic the best thing to do is learn how to do exercises correctly without weight first then once you are able to execute them correctly you gradually increase difficulty. Pure and simple if you learn how to do a squat with no weight and do it to perfection the weight will come in time. Rome was not built in a day.

  • Anna Kuennen

    The one question I have is… since when did 1 exeercise ever constitute a workout?

    • gemiinii

      Good question; I see some people doing the same thing over and over in the gym, confuses the hell outta me.

    • matt227

      Deadlifts and squats do almost your entire body. Add in bench presses and overhead presses and you’ve practically done it all. But you are correct, a well rounded varied workout that focuses each muscle includes many many different exercises.

      • cheney2jail

        While I like deadlifts and squats, they don’t ‘do ‘almost your whole body’, even when you add in presses’. You need to work opposing muscle groups (pull ups, curls, rowing etc).

        • Brandon Hofmann

          It’s called eccentric and concentric exercises, and compound exercises to engage almost ever muscle in the body, but if you are not doing all the compound exercises you would never work your upper back and your shoulders. Try adding Barbell rows, and Clean and jerk or even snatch. (cleans and snatches require a lot of technique, have someone competent coach you on your form) These exercises work shoulders, upper back, biceps, forearms, grip strength, also keep your flexibility. Which prevents injuries. But what do I know I am just a personal trainer.

          • cheney2jail

            No, Brandon, it’s not ‘called eccentric and concentric’, not if you are going to claim that deadlifts and squats work almost your whole body. As I’m sure you know, eccentric and concentric contractions during an exercise refer to the lifting and lowing phases, and the same muscles groups are providing the force. To engage the opposing muscle groups you have to do a different movement (e.g., pulling instead of pushing). When you add in the other movements you mention, then you begin to get coverage of most major muscle groups, but not from just squats and deadlifts. Perhaps personal trainers would benefit from taking medical school A&P courses before running their mouths, or maybe it’s just that they need to read other people’s posts. Read Matts first sentence; it isn’t anatomically correct. If you think it is your training is defective.

          • cheney2jail

            Eccentric and concentric contractions don’t work opposing muscle groups. All the other exercises you suggest will work most muscle groups, but that’s not what Matt said, is it? Having lifted weights for over forty years and been to med school I’m not intimidated by personal trainers. Some are great, but anybody can call themselves a personal trainer; there is no licensing requirement.

          • Jerseysmelltours

            Great name cheney2jail. There are a whole bunch of know it all’s here(some true some false) PT’s like to be “IT” somewhat built and throws in some cheap gym phonics but over the years the most useless gym rats have been MD’s I guess they have so much else on their accomplished minds than isolating some peripheral lats. This is not to say you don’t know your P’s and Q’s it just gym chatter is a waste it comes down to you doing what’s good for you. Good Health.

        • Josh Little

          Ok you are right from the stand point of being well balanced however you get much more over all growth from heavy weight on large muscle groups and compound movements. Its far easier to get big biceps quickly than big strong functional legs. That’s why you see guys at the gym doing bicep curls and bench press with tons of weight but cant squat for shit. Strong Squats, Deadlifts, really stimulate growth. Oh and I have taken A&P 1 and 2 with 4.0 GPA. I agree with the need to do pulling movements as well. Just saying you more than likely will never pull with your arms what you can press or squat with your legs and the legs being far bigger stronger muscles will generate more growth over all.

  • peter gozinya

    Exactly why I never do any of those.

  • Adam Evans

    Ok, a few of these are alright, such as the 90 degree squats and round back deadlifts. I have never seen these work out in the long run. Others, such as 45 degree leg presses, are bull. I have both seen and experienced the benefits and results of doing them, sounds like the person coming up with the list had a few exercises they didn’t like and decided to add them. In particular, the leg press and the tricep dip are both things I have used to great effect, and the tricep dip is a great way to build up your arm strength for what I consider the greatest tricep move of all time, the weighted tri-dip with your whole body and added weight being dipped. Can’t get there unless you are willing to start dipping small… and I don’t know about you but I have never even been close to hurting myself doing dipping using the benches. Sore muscles in the beginning, but worth it.

    • Josh Little

      Hurry you better tell all those competitors in the crossfit games that below 90 degree squats never workout in the long run oh don’t forget all those lifters in the Olympics and we should probably through in Arnold and his crowd to. But I will say that Arnold does love his leg presses as well. After all those years of below 90 degree squatting he had far more problems with his heart that he ever did with his knees.

  • John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmi

    For the bench dip
    It depends on what kind of bench dip one is doing, and the amount of sets one does.
    I generally do reps no less than 100 as fast as I can and it certainly has been hitting the right spots. There are bench dip techniques that focus more purely on triceps, and then there are other bench dip techniques that work out triceps, quads, and rhomboids, pecs, and others.

    For many of the rest I think the term “useless” is a bit to much. It all depends on technique and what variation of the exercise your doing, how fast you’re doing them, and how long.

  • Alexander LondonBand

    Seemed to work here….

  • John Scott

    Due to a groin strain that doesn’t seem to want to heal I can’t go below 90 degrees. Instead I’ve been doing box squats that limits my squats to where my thighs are parallel. So does this mean I need to stop?

  • steph sierra

    I don’t understand the anti-crunch deal, I have a 6 pack from nutrition and crunches..

    • BOB

      Agree with you fully, have done them for 6 years, most days of the week-in the gym, in between other things. They have helped my stomach and back tremendously!

    • Jim Kelly

      There are two problems with crunches:They’re normally done incorrectly (Imagine that.). Just by keeping the abs tight while doing them increases the workout, and causes the other abdominal stabilizer muscles to also get at least a partial work out.
      Except the lower abs. And that’s the other problem with them. So do reverse crunches, and you get a better workout.

    • Scott

      1. When it comes maximum voluntary contraction, crunches have been proven to be inferior to just about every other form of abdominal strength training.

      2. Most people do crunches incorrectly by repeatedly flexing their spine in various locations. It has been proven in labs that the spine can only recover from so many repetitions of flexion. This is the equivalent of repeatedly bending a wire hanger until it wears out from stress and breaks.

      3. The abs are not best training by flexing the midsection, they are best trained by stabilizing the spine. There are an infinite number of exercise that will challenge your stability and with proper breathing, tension etc. blow the crunch out of the water.

      4. Crunches require high reps sometimes hundreds. The abs respond better to low-rep high-tension in terms of muscle growth, resting tension and strength gains.

  • the_chemist_of_discord

    Bicycle crunches (on the floor) are the most effective best body weight ab / oblique exercise. No planking, leg-lifting, or exercise-ball routine comes close. And how is the 45 degree leg press a non-functional exercise requiring, as it does, forceful contraction of the quadriceps?

    • Josh Little

      Yes bike crunches are a great abdominal exercise but core exercises like planks serve a different function that being balance and stabilizing your spine stopping and redirecting movement. Planks are not the end all be all but are a good starting point. To illustrate the difference try doing that side to side Heisman exercise only hold a weight just 10 lbs( kettle bell works good) and switch hands as you go from one foot to another touching the weight to the ground on the side your are jumping to your ability to do this movement and not fall over is a small example of good core stability something bike crunches wont do. Squats especially overhead squats are even more effective core exercise. Id get planks down first.

  • John U

    Use to work all those exercises, and the article is right. In the end the painful injuries will last me forever.

  • judoka13

    this is a decent article but just saying there are better alternatives doesn’t help someone like me. Maybe actually tell us what those are would help.

    • Josh Little

      On the issue of the squat don’t start using weight until your air squat form is perfect.

  • matt227

    There is a Smith machine variation that moves horizontally in addition to vertically. I still don’t do it without a spotter.

    • mlpnko123

      If you have a spotter, why don’t you do need the machine at all?

      • matt227

        I’m stronger than my spotter.

  • Kenyana George

    All exercise are necessary at different times, Below 90 is good sometimes, and 90 degrees is good sometimes. It all depends on what muscles your working.

  • Justin Michael Chidester

    These are actually all really good exercises as long as you use proper form. Yes, if you use bad form then you are always going to be prone to injury no matter what exercise you’re doing. But if you use the proper form, then the stress will be placed in the right area. The only exception is the behind the head lat pulldown, but again, that’s bad form. As long as you use PROPER form and have good execution all these exercises will all be effective. Especially on squats, if you make sure that your knees don’t go past the point of your toes then you won’t put excessive stress on your knees. So what I’m trying to say here is, It’s not about what exercise you do, it’s about form, range of motion, and execution of an exercise.

    • Josh Little

      While you are correct about squats and many of other exercises listed here. There are indeed some that are useless. For example the upright row. If you turn it into a high pull by changing the position of the hand relative to the elbow ie hand up elbow down instead of the other way around it then become beneficial instead of a almost certain way to destroy your shoulder. This is also how to properly accomplish pull for snatch and clean as well.

  • Robert N Jessica Chapel

    Okay on number 8, This is definitely about form now if there is ever a rule about not going to far it should be with the should press behind the head. As soon as your elbows level to your shoulder you should push back up. I have had huge gains in my shoulder from this exercise. Yes of course if you drop it all the way to your its going to cause strain, but that’s only because you have bad form and are improperly doing the exercise. Which as you can tell by the posts any real gym rat knows its about form and knowledge on how to do the exercise correctly.

    • cheney2jail

      Robert, putting your hands behind your head automatically puts your shoulder joints into a region of instability. It isn’t only because of ‘bad form’, it’s biomechanics. People who do machine bench presses that start with their hands way back behind their chest are going to have the same problem; as Brandon Hoffman pointed out above, bench presses already put a lot of strain on your shoulders. I don’t doubt that you made gains, but if you keep it up you’ll eventually injure your shoulders.

  • Sandy Ellis

    the Smith machine is good for squats for us with balance or neck issues, as far as tricep dips go, why not just use the machine they have for it? Benches are used for way too much bs in the gyms,

  • MattKrombach

    The smith machine squats arent useless if you know how to use it properly

  • junkyardnut

    I exercise with a simple shovel, post digger, leaf rake, hoe, etc…

  • Brandon Hofmann

    And why isn’t the bench press on here. I see more injuries due to bench press than I see to any other exercise (other than the deadlift) You put way too much stress on your shoulders when you don’t tuck your elbows in. This actually damages your internal rotator cuffs. This is a common bodybuilder injury but not a powerlifter injury.

    • kneesus

      I try to tell people to imagine they’re trying to bend the bar when they’re gripping it. Put pressure on the inside of your thumbs, helps drive your elbows in. And a bench isn’t a pure down and up, it’s a slightly elliptical motion. My rule is, if you can’t do it at least 8 times, don’t do it.

    • Josh Little

      I have done exactly that took me a year to heal. I tore the shoulder tie in. Yet another thing the guy who wrote this missed. Every powerlifting coach and professional lifter has their own little preferences. The whole looking up this is an example I have heard it a million times the weight following where your looking at. Ok I can accept that but where you look at can be different than the position of your head. You can look up or straight ahead or even down and never take your head out of neutral spine alignment where it should be for a squat. My only point being looking up or straight ahead does not require you to lift your head out of neutral alignment. Squat arguments abound but no one with a lick of sense or expertise will argue that flaring your elbows for bench press is a recipe for disaster but yet its no where to be found in this guys article.

  • Charles Defrancesco

    The article has some truth but the author doesn’t give any science. For ex a crunch is bad for most people bc of the repeated spinal flexion. If you have any sort of back issue in most cases flexion is bad.
    I certainly do not agree with the squat. If you have proper hip mobility and motor control you will not hurt your knees. I do have healthy clients go slightly below 90 depending on the goal. Old school, ass to the grass is for professional bodybuilders not people in the gym. One day the public will understand the art of body building is a different science than that of fitness and wellness.

  • Charles Defrancesco

    Power lifters and Olympic lifters will also need to get down low in a squat. There is no reason to load a general population client much lower than 90. I do not have an issue that client movement in that range but not under load.

  • Woblocc

    How about some of those useless cardio machines…

  • stephen

    Squats are a great exercise but don’t think being macho and trying to impress people with how much weight you can do poorly won’t do you any good. I’ve done them for over 35 years and even with an artificial hip joint I still can do them, just not with as much weight due to the diameter if the pin I have in my femur. I used to be a 500 pound squatter weighing in at a lowly 160 pounds. I am now a 225 squatter at 185. I am much bigger but have learned as one gets older it is wise to be wiser and listne to your body or you’ll break something. At 55 I still look like I’m 30.
    Bottom line is do exercises with good form and control. Never use to much weight that you know you can’t handle and you don’t have to be the strongest guy in the gym to look as good as you want. You do what works for you. I have and can say to this day, old school workouts still rock!

    • kneesus

      I competed at 138 squatted 405, deadlifted 550, and benched 360. I started at 16, stopped at 27. Now I squat 135-165, I don’t deadlift, and I rep 225-245 range. My back has never felt better.

      • stephen

        Great lifts for you at 138! I knew a lot of guys at that weight who were real strong like you.
        I too gave up deadlifts since my lower back got injured in an industrial accident as well as my left hip and neck. If it wasn’t for training, I’d be confined to a wheelchair. Doctors say I’m a miracle since I can still walk with all the nerve damage I have in my back

  • sambaloelek

    The problem with 90-degree squatting is that there is too _little_ range of motion, and this creates muscle imbalances. With proper form, deep squats are not bad for the knees. Squatting fixed my middle-aged knees. The worst is to see someone put too much weight on the bar and then squat barely to 90 degrees, or not even 90. One should teach the body how to squat low in a stable, practiced motion with knees over toes, neither splayed out or collapsed inward. Doing squats with just the bar or even no bar for a while will be helpful to anyone who doesn’t squat regularly. With good form in your muscle memory, you can add weight gradually and get strong without risking a setback. Incidentally, I don’t like the Smith machine at all–it just feels wrong–but I have used the leg press (hip sled) to good effect. Faster than squats for beefing up the quads, which can help with rehabbing a knee, though you do have to work in light squats at some point, or those imbalances will start to creep in.

  • Rick2340

    No way are squats worthless or dangerous when done correctly. They are the best exercise for the legs. Leg presses are okay – just aren’t as good as squats. Crunches are ok also – not great but I wouldn’t call them worthless. I would agree somewhat with his other comments, although some people do these exercises and have good results.

  • Combat Override

    Roman chair sit ups, crunches and tricep bench dips works. Maybe there are more efficient ways of doing things, but this stuff works.

    • Mary

      I agree with the sit ups, but I think the Roman chair reverse crunches are useless (the ones where you rest your elbows on the pads and lift your knees). I prefer to hang and lift my legs or lock out my arms in the “up” dip position and lift.

  • socaball

    Bad exercise, I had to get operated on my back and have injured myself lifting weights. What ever you do, do not lift heavy it is bad on your joints and back. I have been lifting all my life and now I can lift any heavy weight. Weight lifting has caused me a herniated disc, bone spurs on my elbows and bad knees.
    Be careful because in the long run lifting weights can cause you many problems when you get older I am now fifty two and have lifted since I was 20 yrs old. If you decide to keep lifting do it with moderation, do not lift heavy weights because it will be bad on your joints in the long run.

    • Josh Little

      Well than you were doing something wrong. I have been lifting running and swimming climbing and doing martial arts and yoga since I was about 9 I am now in my late 40s. I have had six knee surgeries( I got blown up by road side bomb in Afghanistan). I still lift heavy and do all the other stuff because as soon as I healed I got right back on the horse. My lifting has saved and rehabilitated my joints not hurt them. The number one problem with runners with knee problems is they run but fail to spend enough time strengthening the quads this enables more movement in the knee which causes pain and injury.Thast from the orthopedic surgeon not me. The last two surgeon generals have reported that by 2020 1 in every two adults in America will suffer from bone loss despite the prevention was right there the whole time in the form of early resistance training including weights. Over loaded muscles makes them get bigger(hypertrophy) they pull tighter tension on tendons which makes bones store more calcium and get thicker. You have to be very careful to protect your joints. Mostly through proper mobility training which is only now becoming widely used. This is very different than static stretching that was used for years when used incorrectly at the beginning of a workout can be detrimental and lead to injury and at least impede performance.

  • Nick Berio

    My Uechi ryu karate sensei could do crunches all day had rock hard abs ,but, you couldn`t see them. He never lost the belly fat

  • Jolie AVenia

    Squats are the only exercise you SHOULD be doing in the gym…done properly!!! Heels elevated a little, knees over the ankles, back straight, core engaged, thighs parallel to the floor at the bottom movement, squeeze butt and quads at the top movement!!! Maybe if people were more concerned with doing every rep perfect instead of how much weight they can lift BADLY, getting injured wouldn’t be such a concern with this movement. Squats not bad…they are just done badly!!!!

    • kneesus

      You should keep your feet flat with the weight on the back of your feet. You should look up, stick your butt out to break your hips then follow it a little past 90. Then when you drive you still drive from the back of you feet. I powerlifted for many years and I’m glad my coach emphasized form above all else. It pains me to watch the masses that have no clue what a proper squat should look like. People are really surprised when they ask me to coach them on powerlifting and the first PL workout is 12×12 squat, bench and deadlift with very little weight.

    • Mary

      You have literally described the absolute wrong way to squat (aside from core and squeezing thighs and glutes).

    • Josh Little

      not sure what you bean by heels elevated. Your heels should never leave the ground now if you cant do that putting them on a block or using lifting shoes helps. I can do them without but I do like the stability lifting shoes give.

  • Sern

    Also, a substantial amount of force is put on the L5- S1 joint.

  • Jared

    Roman chair sit-ups work. It just depends on how low you take yourself.

  • kneesus

    The biggest problem with squat, bench and deadlift is people using weight that’s too heavy for them. They have bad form and they work their way up to heavier weight using bad form that gets worse and worse. I feel sorry for them because they trust their basketball, football, soccer, track and field coaches to be good lifting coaches. While these guys might have weight lifting experience and great coaches in their field, they are not lifting coaches and the multitude of injuries I see from poor lifting backs that up. I mean, I see kids doing cleans or clean and jerks. Olympic lifts people.

  • Alex J. Murphy

    I agree with the smith squats, but for squats in general it’s going to depend on the muscle you’re specifically training. Whether it’s the quads, glutes, or whatever, there’s subtle changes that you should make. Squatting to just 90 degrees is perfectly fine and that is actually the way that it’s shown in personal training certification books. Don’t tell everyone to go beyond 90 just because that’s what you “believe,” People have different goals, and not everyone wants to go ass to the ground to stroke their ego.

    • remaind

      The problem with smith machine squats is that people are doing them wrong. You don’t do them like a normal squat. Proper form is to get in front of the machine and lean back into the bar. As you go down your back stays straight up and down and it should look like you’re sitting against a wall when you’re at the bottom.

  • Bololand

    As a successful athlete, I can only agree with the one about the smith machine. curl-ups and roman chair sit-ups aren’t going to burn fat and give you a six pack, but they certainly strengthen your muscles. The 45 degree leg press increases your legs ability to push outward, used in kicking, climbing, and many other activities, and the behind the neck presses may not be an exercise I usually use, but if you have worked up your flexibility through stretching like you should be doing in an exercise routine, it really isn’t much of a threat. If you only care about looking good, then maybe this article is right, but if health is your concern, I suggest you disregard it.

  • Eli King

    The reason that smith machine squats injure people just like free bar squats is improper form. On smith machine squats you have to angle your body so that you are not straight up and down under the bar which is fixed you have to lean back into the bar. I have done both smith machine squats and free weight squats with heavy weights and my knees and back are fine. Last but not least start off with a weight that you can handle most people stack the bar and do not have proper form.

  • InternetSavage

    I’ve doubled my squat strength in one years time using a Smith machine.

    • Josh Little

      Hate to brake it to you but if you only squat on a smith machine you have doubled squatting on a smith machine can you hop on a regular squat rack and do the same weight I bet not because a squat is not just the moving weight up and down its being able to balance and use your core to stabilize.If your squatting in smith machine or leg pressing your not doing that. Oh and if you use one of those smith machine with the layed back angle that is more of a hack squat. Now yes you can certainly strengthen your legs and make them look better and its not useless just not the same. I am 5’5.5″ 160 and squat almost 300 and that’s one time. on a smith I could double that on a leg press probably triple there is a reason for that is just easier.

  • biker joe

    I’ve been working out since I was 16 years old. I did body weight exercises, dynamic tension (Charles Atlas), Isometric exercises, a little Olympic Lifting. But mostly Body Building. I did every exercise mentioned here at one time or another. I have never injured myself doing any of them. You want to know why. Form, I did every exercise in perfect form as possible. Never lifted more then I could handle and never let my ego get the better of me. As I got older(50ish) I stopped lifting heavy and just did a daily light dumbbell routine. My dumbbell routine kept me toned but did not stop me from gaining weight, fat weight. So last year I started body building again. Started out light and now working out with moderate heavy weights.. Lost 30 pounds of fat in a year and a half. I was in no hurry. Plus I didn’t want to put strain on my liver. I have no joint problems after all these years. I don’t do high rep sets. Right now I’m not looking to bulk up. (don’t know if I can any more.) I’m working on getting lean and cut again. My age? 70 years old.Height, 5’8″ Start weight, 177lbs. Now 143lbs. Squat, a little past 90 degrees, 210lbs @ 7 reps, Dead lift, 220lbs @ 7 reps. If your young and working out, don’t ever stop. If you are older and never worked out. Start light working up to heavy and always do each exercise strict and to form. You will never get injured.

  • Ren Faiz

    Typical Comments: More of the usual one-ups, I-know-more-than-you, from the bone headed, know-it-all “certified” (ha ha ha) wannabes, 99.99% of whom are NOT qualified to do physical fitness training. Avoid these types, who hang around the gyms, like the plague. Easy to spot; dumb, obnoxious and loud.

  • bookfreak

    Never heard of the round back variation. I do both deadlifts and barbell rows, and know that I’d better be keeping a flat back and shoulders back if I want to hear “Good set!” from my trainer!

  • Ish

    This is one of the most bi-polar articles I’ve read in a while. First, what extra stress does bench dips put on your triceps? Isn’t the idea of working out to put stress on you muscles so that they become stronger and grow? Not every one has has a set-up to do dips. I’m not tall by any stretch, but putting two chairs together to do dips is not a safe answer. Using the seats puts you too close to the floor, and who really wants to take a chance of doing them using the backs. All it takes is one tip and your laid up for a few weeks.
    They spend 4 slides talking about various ab exercises and how they strain this or that, but then suggest traditional sit-ups, which put a lot of strain on the lower neck.
    Their arguments against planks are off base. The core muscles are actually the deeper muscles closer to the spine that provide stabilitiy, not just the abs. If the plank position is too stressful, then a push-up is not a viable exercise option.
    The rounded deadlift is just bad form. No one should be teaching or using this technique.

    They spend 3 slides telling us to do squats, then blast squats as a useless, unsafe exercise. Squats can be done safely throughout the full range (even below 90 degrees) if you keep your toes in sight. Otherwise, you are too far forward and are placing too much stress on the ACL.
    Isn’t upright rows a component of one of the Olympic Power Lifts? The lifts used in the Olympics are some of the best overall lifts that can be done, provided you use proper form.
    They lament the position of the Tricep Kick Back as being bad, but it really isn’t much different that a Golfer’s Lift, a lift that puts very little stress on the low back. It isn’t a difficult position to get into or to understand. You have 2-3 points of contact to support yourself and the movement shouldn’t require you to torque yourself into a bad position.
    Shrugs and Prone Lumbar Extension: I would like to know their definition of “full range”. Not every muscle or section of a muscle that you are working on has as a range a large as the biceps. They say that isolating the Upper Traps will cause them to get larger, but this some how affects how the Lats look or function. Then since this pointless argument doesn’t carry much weight, they add in that it doesn’t contribute to your fitness. Doesn’t any exercise, done correctly (and let’s face it, shrugs are hard to screw up), that increases muscles mass and burns calories contribute to your fitness level.
    Nothing against body builders or anyone who working on a huge, ripped frame, but not everyone who lifts has the same goals. Some want the good developed muscles. Some want to be toned, but not ripped. Using light weights for more reps is an acceptable and effective workout plan for some. Just because someone doesn’t use heavy weights doesn’t mean they are not sweating or working hard. When they have no other argument they turn to its not effective. Not effective for what? Maybe the writter and the lifter don’t have the same goal.

  • Stephen Ritger

    “A V-Taper is the term given when a person has very well defined latissimus dorsi muscles that taper down to a very small waste.”

    WASTE??? LOL

  • JORBIN

    A lot of good things on here, and a lot of things not taken into consideration and some downright mistakes…

    Sure planks are not great for building abs, but they are good for stabilizing your core. I like dynamic plank movements (raising a leg, raising an arm etc.)

    Full depth squats are fine on your knees as long as you progress the weight slowly and you have proper form, i.e. sticking your butt out and pushing through your heels. Bad form on ANY exercise will hurt. And of course femur length has a lot to do with it…

    While the anterior deltoid is close to your chest…deltoids are not chest muscles…

    Sit-ups should not be done by anyone, ever, can be bad for your spine because of how the Psoas are attached, it causes a pushing/pulling motion of the spine (shearing) and that’s no good. The best way to build abs: squats, deadlifts and pushups. The best way to show your abs: eat clean!

    My thought is, do functional stuff with weight. Horizontal pushing, horizontal pulling, standing up, squatting down, vertical pulling, vertical pushing…do that safely, and eat clean, you will be great

  • Geoclac

    The problem with many of these suggestions is that they are exactly the opposite of many other articles that one will read.
    Do what works for you, ignore the so called “experts” online.

  • Randi Washburn

    This article makes me smile, someone needs lessons in the weight room… probably time you invest in a trainer, just saying…everything is bad with improper form.

  • http://batman-news.com Jake Lakota

    I can agree with all the points for once. Machines do not replace free weight and cause you to do weird sheisse

  • jw008807

    First of all, this wasn’t a list of workouts like the name of the article implied; it was a list of exercises. Secondly, the only thing useless here was the article itself. Sure there are better alternatives to many of the exercises listed but I would hardly call most of them useless.

  • DPTCoug

    As a physical therapist, personal trainer, certified strength and conditioning specialist, and a strong background in Olympic weightlifting, this article is flawed on many levels. Some of the information is correct, but overall, it wreaks of personal bias and unfounded assertions. There is no research to support the claims, this rendering the “advice” false. It sounds like something I would see on Dr. Oz. I hope nobody actually believes this.

  • Darkhill

    My doctor told me to avoid the triceps bench dip. I don’t do it anymore.

  • popweasel

    So much bad advice in one article, congrats!

  • Hank Corbett

    I think your recommendations that people should include the military press in their routine is a mistake. Serious shoulder injuries are caused by this exercise.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001014849544 Mike Alan

    The situp chair guys has monster abs. Seems to me his exercise has worked.

    • Nh80

      Or he’s just posing for a photograph and was already ripped doing other exercises.

    • Josh Little

      I was trying to make that point earlier with the squat guy. See quadzilla here doing these rock bottom squats pay no attention to him they don’t really work lol who is this guy kidding.

  • Scott

    Context is Key. There are no absolutes. There are exceptions to every rule.

    All exercise variations are tools. Any tool used incorrectly can cause harm.
    As long as a movement is bio-mechanically correct for the individual in question any of these lifts COULD be performed safely. The general population does not have the knowledge, skill, experience, judgement or patience how to learn to move safely or treat the pursuit of strength as a skill.

  • Kelly Cole

    Thank you for your great information. I have yet to see a review of my typical workout. What is your opinion of the treadmill?

  • Tim

    regular sit-ups are a cornerstone of military fitness training because the military requires us to do them for the fitness test… not because they’re actually effective… we don’t even have to do 50…

  • pixelzombie

    Planks have helped me work on my core without any back pain. i used to do crunches until my sciatica flared up, now I stick to leg raises. I have a nice six pack without any lower back pain.

  • Pete Wagner

    Suspension exercises beat all the alternatives for a total body workout.

  • Philip Goetz

    Nonsense. Traditional sit-ups hurt your back and don’t work out your muscles.

  • Philip Goetz

    Props for nixing squatting all the way down to thighs parallel to the floor. The pain from that last inch is too much to be worth it.

    Props retracted for suggesting lunges instead.

  • aztekk

    How much weight can you squat right now? Ok, now lets see if you are squatting that much when your 40 years old. I bet you wont, your back and knees will be too torn up by then (not to mention your neck potentially). The leg press is just as effective as the squat and A LOT better for your joints. The squat is touted as such a “natural movement”. I dont know about you but I dont do anything like handle hundreds of pounds on my upper back and squat all the way down in any “natural movement” or sport.

  • mlang46

    the Canadian researchers found that regular squats activated the quadriceps 50 percent more than the Smith machine not 50 times more. Nothing was said about how well the gluteas muscles were engaged. i would assume that if the smith machine allows you to go lower than it would activate your glutes more. in both exercises if you push off your toes instead of your heels you will endanger yuour knees

    dead lifts done properly are the best overall exercise you can do for your body. Planks are one of the best stomach exercises because the purpose of the stomach muscles is to stabilize the spine

  • Ziv Bnd

    Mike, I have to disagree about the behind the neck press. I tore my rotator cuff doing that lift and was out of the gym for nearly a year. After I tore it, my Golds Gym lifting coach said, “Yeah, I see a lot of guys hurt doing that.” And he was the one that recommended I add it to my routine.