The snarky tone and exercise elitism are usually not my thing, but the tone here is intentional. In the grand scheme of things, who am I to care or tell you how to move your body? Even these Foolish Exercises are awesome badass moves compared to sitting on the couch eating Doritoes all day. Also, some of these may be well justified in the context of rehabilitation or specific physical or mental impairments.
Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, please do not let me see you doing these unless you have an excellent reason to feel and look like a tool.
To qualify for the list, the exercise had to be a fairly mainstream movement, not a ridiculous gimmicky contraptions like the Shake Weight, the Thigh Master, the Gazelle, or about a dozen other tool makers.
And now, without further ado, introducing the
10 Best Exercises to Make You Look and Feel Foolish and needlessly drain you of the limited time and energy you are given on this planet:
#10 Concentration Curls:
Now that's one serious exercise!
! Instead: The long head of the bicep is ALWAYS larger, sharper, and more awesome when you can pull
-up, row, and dead lift 25%, 50%, and 200% of your body weight respectively.
#9 Tricep Kickbacks
These are just dumb. Enough said. I don't care if you're 1976 Arnold. You always look and feel foolish while bending over and waving a 30-pound dumbbell, even if you're not out of the house wearing ungodly undies.
! Instead: The triceps are ALWAYS something to reckon with once you can bench press 150% of your body weight, press your body weight overhead, or at least complete 30 continuous "diamond" style push-ups.
#8 Hip Adduction Machine
You have to be kidding me. When these powerful inner thigh muscles are involved with pretty much EVERY movement of the legs? Go ahead and look it up for yourself! When the hip is in a flexed position (in front of the torso), the adductors extend the hip. When the hip is in an extended position (behind the torso), the adductors flex the hip. The hip adductors stabilize the pelvis and control rotation of the femur during hip abduction (movement away from the mid line). They adduct (move the leg toward the mid line) when that's called for.
! Instead: As an alternative to sitting on this silly piece of technology, try moving your legs! Go ahead. Any thing will do. Congratulations! You have successfully worked your hip adductors! Seriously though, squat and dead lift and lunge and sprint your way to amazing inner thighs.
#7 Hip Abduction Machine
You took this seriously for a moment? You're going to mount what was probably the result of a dare taken amongst a group of frat brothers in their last ditch effort engineering project idea?
! Instead: The hip abductors and external rotators are important protectors of both the knee and hip. They're completely hammered by practicing good form in any and every single leg lower body exercise. Try some single leg split squats or even band resisted side stepping to effectively work this very important muscle group.
#6 Dumbbell Side Crunches
Wow. Um, no. Not worth it. Especially the version where you place one hand behind the head. Repetitive loaded side bending of the spine is a bad idea even when it doesn't look like an awful dance move, white boy.
! Instead: Hold the torso and pelvis super stable with minimal to no frontal plane (side-to-side) movement while doing loaded carries (farmers walks). Do high step-ups or lunges with a relatively heavy dumbbell in one hand.
#5 Wrist Extensions and Flexions
You have time for this?
! Instead: If you're talking size, the most effective thing you can do to add forearm girth is gain weight. For strength, grip something heavy and lift it. Dead lift, chin-up, hang, row, farmer walk. Leave the gym and be awesome.
#4 Upright Rows
Just...why? When this places the shoulders into combined flexion and internal rotation under load, which is an active, nonawesome position of shoulder impingement? When the anterior shoulder is hit far more with horizontal and vertical pressing movements, and the side and rear shoulder is worked far more with heavy rows? When the biceps are worked far more with various rows and bicep curls? There's no excuse for this movement.
! Instead: See above paragraph.
# 3 Seated Calf Raises
Yeah, I'm aware of the whole thing where plantar flexing (pointing down) the foot while the knee is flexed isolates the soleus muscle. And I don't care. When was the last time you had to simultaneously flex the knee and plantar flex the foot anyway?
! Instead: Jump rope. Sprint. Lift and carry heavy things while on your feet. Work those hard, become functionally awesome, and see how much you care about the circumference of the distal 1/3rd of your lower leg.
! Instead: Do prone press-ups or standing backward bends if you have spine issues that respond well to stretching into lumbar extension (as some disc problems do). Improve the strength of the spinal erectors and glutes with goblet squats. Perform glute bridge, prone plank, and dead lift variations while fighting hard to maintain a neutral position of the thoracic and lumbar spine.
#1 Cable Crossovers
Honorable mention goes to Kipping Pull-ups because that's not a pull-up, it's a momentum seizure with your hands clamped on a bar. But since "Top 11" lists are illegal, Cable Crossovers take the cake.
While a good rule of thumb is that if it feels awesome, and looks awesome, it is awesome, Cable Crossovers are one exception.
Cable crossovers do look awesome. You're standing between two pillars, the ground zero of most commercial gyms, striking repeat front double biceps-like power poses in front of an audience. You're hogging up a significant amount of space, and a lot of things appear to be moving. It feels like you're about to be torn in half, yet you lean in to overcome all odds, crushing the bad guys in a Samson-like display of courage. Nothing else makes you so want to shout White Goodman motivation with every rep!
But the movement, in fact, is not awesome. There's no significant amount of weight being moved. There's no stability challenge or real penalty for failure. You let the 50 or 80-pound stack (which allows for less than half the amount of force due to pulley leverage) to settle down into its spring protected nesting site. You walk out of the center of the universe with fresh legs, barely breaking a sweat and feeling kind of empty.
Okay let's have it! Do you LOVE any of these and want to redeem them? Can you add to the list?
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