For many people, getting into shape means a strict eating plan and hours in the gym.
If you stick to a regular plan, you will burn calories and end up impressing everyone with your chiselled beach abs.
The problem is that some of the most common workouts can involve a lot of effort while offering minimal reward – and put you at risk of injury to boot.
In gym terms, these exercises are "energy wasters" and have been declared close to useless by Health24's Fitness expert, Biokinetisist Habib Noorbai.
Exercises that could be complete waste of your time:
When doing crunches, you're just lifting your shoulders off the ground and flexing your ab muscle (rectus abdominus) without engaging the waist or the lower abdomen (obliques and transverse abdominus).
This could create a muscle imbalance which may result in back problems if you don't focus on your inner core muscles.
Note: there is a difference between crunches and sit-ups. When doing sit-ups, you lift yourself all the way up with your elbows touching your knees.
Noorbhai points out that many people think that doing 1,000 crunches a day will get rid of body fat, but this is not true. While it might help strengthen your ab muscles, you can only reduce your body fat by eating correctly.
He suggests planking as a more beneficial alternative to crunches as it also works the transverse abdominus muscle (your core).
2. Adductor/Abductor exercise machines
The adductors refer to your inner thigh muscles, while abductors are your outer thighs/gluteals. Instead of trying to work these muscles by pushing heavy weights on the adductor/abducor machines in the gym, Noorbhai suggests that you try lunging.
Lunges and squats are more effective as they work your glutes, hamstrings and quads at the same time.
Holding your legs wide apart while squatting can work abductors more effectively, while having your legs close together will concentrate more on your adductors.
3. Cardio machines – cycling/treadmill/elliptical
While cardiovascular exercise has numerous benefits – including weight loss and heart health advantages – if you do not use cardio machines effectively you might not reap any benefit.
When working out on a treadmill or elliptical trainer, one needs to establish a goal. Some people understand what is required of them and they will increase the incline, speed or tempo based on their heart rate and rates of perceived exertion. However, those of us who are not disciplined might get lost watching TV or using a mobile device while exercising.
Noorbhai suggests setting your machine to a specific workout programme if you want to get the most out of a cardio machine workout. This will help you attain a more deliberate and focused goal.
4. Tricep kickbacks
This exercise aims to tone saggy arms, but because it is so hard to lift heavier weights in this position, tricep kickbacks do not exercise the muscle effectively.
Noorbhai says that push-ups do a better job at getting you toned arms and, if done correctly, do wonders for the shoulders, chest and core as well.
Exercises such as tricep dips and pull downs with ropes are also effective at working the triceps.
5. Wrist curls
Wrist curls are good for body builders or batters who want to strengthen their forearms.
However, if you want to strengthen your arms in general, bicep curls are a better option. The bicep curl targets both the upper arm and forearm. Y
our upper arm (biceps and triceps) are worked with flexion and extension, while your forearm can be strengthened merely by holding the weight during the repetitions.
If you're new to exercise or looking to change your workout routine, Noorbhai advises that you ask a biokineticist at your gym to help you do the exercises correctly.
You can post questions on the Fitness and Biokinetics forum. You can also follow Habib on Twitter – @HN434
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Sources: Health24, Habib Noorbhai.com
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