Everyone is making their return to the gym / training so here are 5 exercises that I can save you from wasting your time on this year!
1. Pulse squats.
You know those squats that are like, quarter squats? They are really really common in the gym and look like someone is out of a bad 1980s martial arts movie. Basically the pulser goes close to the bottom of a squat and bounces up and down about 5 cms or so. It FEELS like it is really working your legs because they burn – but that burn is just lactic acid and isnt doing much to improve the shape of your legs.
BETTER ALTERNATIVE: Full squats.
A full squat where you go all the way to the bottom so that your butt nearly touches the floor and then return all the way up to legs straight is best. It will work ALL the muscles in your legs and butt, and if you hold a weight in front of your body then it will give you a good dose of lower abs too.
Full squats are also one of the best preventative exercises for back pain (when done properly) and encourage good flexibility.
2. Walking with hand weights.
Fortunately this has died out a lot, but I still see it fairly often. Walking with hand weights was massive in the 80s, but should have died there. Basically the walker wanders around with pumping arms while carrying a couple of kilos in their hands. It does consume a few more calories than walking – which is not much!
BETTER ALTERNATIVE: Sprints.
Walking is great if youre injured, but if not then you should be building up to sprints. A good sprint program will carve lines into your legs and butt and will also tone your abs up.
An added bonus with sprints is that the whole session is usually done within 20 minutes so you dont have to spend hours walking.
In case you missed it, grab my free Sprint Your Butt Off (Literally) Guide (you can get it here). I released it last month and over 200 women are on board right now! (It rocks smile emoticon )
3. The butt blaster machine.
You know that machine that you bend over, put a pad into your hamstring and then push back so your leg goes straight? Yeah, that machine sucks.
It doesnt tone.
It doesnt strengthen.
BETTER ALTERNATIVE: Deadlifts or Kettlebell swings.
Deadlifts using a barbell or kettlebell and kettlebell swings are a much better choice as they hit your butt, legs, abs and upper body (instead of just sorta your butt), they make your heart work harder, burn more calories AND strengthen your back.
In fact as I wrote about a little while ago, deadlifts are one of the 3 exercises that are the quickest to build lean muscle and burn fat!
4. Those half ball things at the gym (BOSU).
Ok, so technically those half ball things are ok – IF you are in the early stages of rehab, or youre over 65 and worried about falling.
In these cases they are useful for a little while.
If on the other hand you are generally well they are a complete waste of time. When you see people doing biceps curls or squats on them they are basically just working at a level lower than they could if they were standing on the ground. If you ever hear a trainer say it works your “core strength” – RUN A MILE!
BETTER ALTERNATIVE: Stand or press from the ground.
You will always be able to burn more calories, do more reps and build more lean muscle while standing on solid ground.
5. Tricpes kickbacks.
I honestly dont think this exercise will ever disappear from womens training because its easy to do and everyone knows about it. Unforetunately, it sucks. Suckity sucks.
Basically you kneel on a bench holding a dumbbell in one hand, bend your elbow behind you and then straighten your arm.
There is nothing wrong with the movement, but you can only use such a small amount of weight that it doesnt force your triceps to improve.
BETTER ALTERNATIVE: Shoulder width push ups.
A properly done shoulder width push up (hands level with your shoulders, elbows by your side) will work your triceps to the max and will also work your abs and tone your shoulders. It makes buying sleeveless tops a MUST to show off your arm definition. Plus it will make your strong enough to turn your hubbies legs to jelly with a punch to his guts wink emoticon
The problem with shoulder width push ups is that less than 5% of women can do them properly on first go. Want to test? Do 10 push ups and get someone to video you. If your elbows flare out to the side instead of staying next to your body – your triceps arent ready and you need to build up slowly.
There you go! Hopefully this will save you some time with your training routines this year and help you make better choices.
To check out how to do shoulder width push ups properly, go here.