6 Popular Exercises That Are A Total Waste Of Time

Okay, let’s make one thing clear. One third of Americans are obese and more than two thirds have never even heard of SoulCycle. Basically, if you’re exercising, you’re already doing something right. Getting to the gym is actually the hardest thing in the world, and so even if you’re literally walking on a broken treadmill, you can congratulate yourself on beating the odds. With that being said, there is so much bullshit information out there, whether you’re getting ideas from online workout plans or health magazines with Khloe Kardashian on the cover. If you’re in the gym for like, 30 minutes, you want to maximize the amount of time you’re there, so you should know if your go-to workout moves are wasting your time. Here are six popular exercises that you should skip:

1. Crunches

This is probably a shock, but it’s true- your 100 bodyweight crunches are totally wasting your time. There are so many good ab workouts you can be doing, and crunches are probably the worst. First of all, when you do a crunch, you’re lifting your shoulders off the ground and flexing the top part of your abdomen, without getting your obliques or bottom parts of your abs involved. This could create a muscle imbalance and even cause you to hurt your back in the long run. Doing moves like planks or leg raises, where your whole core is engaged, will give you more bang for your buck because you’ll be using your entire core in every movement, not just the top half.

2. Donkey Kicks

There’s nothing necessarily bad about donkey kicks,but if you’re short on time, this isn’t the best move you should be doing. Donkey kicks are supposed to tone your butt while getting your heart rate up, but there are better moves that do these two things more effectively. Exercises like squat jumps and jumping lunges, for example, work your legs while burning calories, and they’re much more effective than donkey kicks. I mean, there’s a reason you can do like, 80 donkey kicks but only 12 squat jumps. They’re harder but they’re so much better for your body.

3. Fast Bicycle Crunches

The bicycle crunch is an amazing ab burner, but a lot of fitness classes and online workouts tell you to do them fast, and you just end up screwing up your form and missing the point of the exercise. The idea behind the bicycle crunch is to twist your entire torso to one side, eventually touching your elbow to your opposite knee while engaging your obliques. By doing them fast, you completely skip the core engagement and you end up just kicking your legs around. Slow these down or skip them completely so you can stop kidding yourself.

4. Butt Kicks

Butt kicks are similar to donkey kicks. There’s nothing wrong with them, but there are so many moves that hit the same muscle groups in a stronger way. By kicking your heels toward your butt, you’re technically getting a lower body cardio workout, but there are several moves that are even stronger cardio, and get your whole body involved in the movement. For example, squat thrusts and burpees are both movements where you’ll burn calories while toning the upper and lower parts of your body. Don’t believe me? Try doing 30 seconds of butt kicks and then 30 seconds of burpees and tell me which one felt like a better workout.

5. Elliptical Machine

The elliptical is honestly so fucking sad, and the fact that so many girls just go to the gym to prance around on that machine is pathetic. But then again, they probably don’t know better so we’re not gonna call them out. The elliptical is basically an easier version of other cardio equipment at the gym. People like it because it’s easier on your knees than the treadmill, but if you’re really trying to burn calories in a short amount of time, there are so many other machines that are so much more useful. For example, the rowing machine and the Stairmaster probably burn like, twice as many calories as the elliptical does, and they activate more muscles in your body. It might seem scary to try out machines you’re not used to, but if you can get a better workout in a shorter amount of time, it’s worth it. Step away from the elliptical.

6. Tuck Jumps

Tuck jumps are included in a lot of HIIT workouts because they blast calories super fast and make you like, really exhausted after only a few jumps. While we’re not arguing against tuck jumps being an effective workout, they’re super tough on your joints, so you could end up with a major knee injury. I mean, think about it. The idea behind the move is to jump your knees up to chest height and then hit your feet down on the floor. It’s just a lot of pressure on your knees and it’s not worth the joint pain you’ll end up dealing with. Try doing other HIIT moves like skaters, burpees, or mountain climbers. They’re just as effective and they’re so much easier on your joints. Like, no workout is worth legit hurting yourself. Being too sore to sit down the next day is bad enough. 

READ: 7 Psychotic Things Your Favorite Celebrities Do To Stay Healthy
 
5 Moves To Tone Every Part Of Your Abs, Even The Ones You Didn’t Know Existed

Have you ever scrolled through Instagram, found a picture of some fitness model’s ridiculously chiseled six-pack, and wondered how the hell her body looks like that? So like, same. You’ve probably been told that “abs are made in the kitchen,” and while that’s depressingly true, doing the right core exercises makes a huge difference when it comes to seeing ab definition. Like, if you’ve been doing 50 sit-ups a day and wondering why your abs don’t exist yet, it’s time to rethink your core routine. All of the following moves target different sections of your abs, so do each one for 45 seconds and repeat the circuit 2-3 times, or just like, until your abs feel like they’re literally on fire.

1. Entire Core: Bodyweight Plank

Regular bodyweight planks get a lot of hate because they look pretty easy, but if you feel that way 45 seconds in, your form is probably wrong. When done right, planks activate your entire core from top to bottom, so you need to make sure you’re doing it correctly if you want to feel the burn in the right places. Start on your hands or your forearms with your elbows below your shoulders and your arms parallel to your body. Make sure you feel like you’re pulling your belly button in toward your spine and activating your back muscles under your armpits. Your spine should be straight, but make sure your hips aren’t sagging downward and your butt isn’t lifting upwards. Your back should be straight enough for someone to balance a glass of wine on top of it. I wouldn’t recommend trying it, though.

2. Lower Abs: Lying Leg Raises

Leg raises are ideal for your lower abs. If you’re not sure what that means, here’s five seconds of science for you: you have your first cousins, then you have your second cousins transverse abdominus, your rectus abdominus, and your external obliques. Those muscles make up your core, and leg raises tone the bottom half of them, which people tend to neglect. Lying flat on your back with your legs straight out in front of you, keep your feet touching while you slowly lift your legs up to the ceiling until your butt is slightly off the floor. Then, lower them back down until they’re a few inches off the floor. Do as many reps as you can, and remember to breathe in between the lifts.

3. Obliques: Bicycle Crunches

Bicycle crunches target your oblique muscles, which are the sides of your abs that pop out when you’re wearing a crop top. Basically, your stomach will look toned as fuck if you do enough of these. Lie on the floor with your hands behind your head and reach your right leg out as far as possible while crunching your left elbow to your right knee. You should feel like you’re twisting through your core, so the goal is really to get your shoulder off the ground as close to the knee as possible. Alternate from right to left, starting off SLOWLY and getting faster toward the end. But not super fast, otherwise you’re just using momentum and not your abs and this move will do nothing for you.

4. All Over Core Strength: Opposite Arm & Leg Extensions

You can do crunches and oblique bends all day long, but in order to tone the deeper muscles in your core, you need to do some stability work. Opposite arm and leg extensions might not feel like you’re working your abs at first, but with the right amount of control and balance, you’ll gain a ton of core strength, which will help all the other ab exercises seem a lot easier. Start on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Then, engage your core while extending your left arm out in front of you and reaching your right leg behind you until both are parallel to the floor. Slowly bring them back to center and do the same to the other side. This move should be done slower than the rest, so don’t worry if you only get a few reps in 45 seconds.

Opposite Arm Leg Extensions

5. Obliques, Upper & Lower Abs: Scissor Kicks

Scissor kicks are named appropriately considering the fact that you’ll probably want to stab yourself with a pair of scissors once you start doing these. With that being said, the pain is worth it because this move targets your obliques, your upper abs, and your lower abs at the same time. Start lying on your back, similar to your leg lifts position. But this time, alternate kicking each leg out in front of you, keeping your legs off the ground the entire time. Keep your core engaged and your back on the ground the entire time as you kick your feet like a 6-year-old at her first swimming lesson. You’ll feel the burn pretty fast, but try not to let your feet hit the ground so you can really burn out the muscle. Oh, and heads up: simple instincts like sneezing and laughing are gonna hurt like a bitch tomorrow. I mean, there’s a reason you’ve never seen Jillian Michaels crack a smile.

READ: The 5 Best And Worst Ab Exercises

A Hangover-Proof Full Body Workout For When You’re Still A Little Bit Drunk

People who wake up with a hangover and head straight to 9AM bootcamp are less relatable than people who choose the middle seat on a plane. Or people who use the “cool” setting on a blowdryer. Or people who don’t follow Beyonce on Instagram. You get the point: exercising with a hangover is hell on earth, so we made a workout that’s totally hangover-proof, so you can sweat out last night’s tequila without the nausea and migraines that come with your regular gym routine. Do each of the following exercises for 45 seconds, and repeat the circuit 3-4 times total.

Alternating Lunge to Squat

Your leg muscles are the biggest muscles in your body, so you’re burning the most calories when you do lower body workouts. However, as much as you’d love to go on a run or make it to SoulCycle, it’s just not happening. The idea of bouncing around in a dark room while listening to Chainsmokers at full blast makes you want to vom, so lunges and squats are a hangover-proof alternative. Step forward with your right leg, creating a 90 degree angle and bringing your left knee an inch away from the ground. Then, step your feet together and squat down, keeping your knees behind your ankles. Alternate between the lunges and squats for the full 45 seconds.

Standing Oblique Crunches

Every good workout needs to have some ab component involved, but bicycle crunches and planks might sound nauseating AF right now. Luckily for you, you can work the sides of your abs while standing up, and it might actually be more effective than your 30-second side planks. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, put your hands behind your head and slowly crunch sideways toward one side of your body, feeling the stretch on the other side. Do 5 reps on one side, then 5 reps on the other, and alternate between the two. If you have a dumbbell to hold in your hand, it’ll make it even harder, but we can also just save that for a day where you can actually see straight.

Lying Hip Bridges

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “You don’t get the ass you want by sitting on it,” but it turns out, you can get it by lying on the floor. No joke. Hip bridges engage your glutes, which are the muscles that make your butt look amazing and perky in a bathing suit. Start by lying on the ground with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Then, lift your hips off the ground, squeezing your butt to lift up, and keeping your upper back on the ground. Lift and lower your butt for a few reps, and then try holding for a few seconds at the top. If your butt is burning after like, 30 seconds, you’re doing it right.

Tricep Dips

It wouldn’t be a full-body workout if we didn’t make you work your arms, but most arm exercises require weights, and we all know you’re not making it to the gym today, so let’s not kid ourselves. Tricep dips are one of the few arm exercises that are super effective without weights required, so get ready to not be able to lift your arms tomorrow when you brush your hair. Find a bench or couch of some sort, and sit in front of it, with your hands on the bench surface behind you. With only your hands on the bench, make sure your butt is only a couple inches away. Then, dip your body up and down with your elbows bent, using only your arms to lift and lower your body. Try to do 10 straight, then rest for a few seconds and do another 10.

Downward Dog to Push-up

Downward facing dog is technically a yoga pose, so by combining it with a push-up, we’re basically yogis and also military material. It’s whatever. Start with your hands on the floor out in front of you and your feet on the ground behind you, feeling the stretch in your shoulders and calves. Then, bring your body forward so that your shoulders are over your wrists, and dip down for a push-up. Drop down to your knees if you need to, but try to get your chest as close to the ground as you can. Alternate between the two movements as many times as you can, and then you can get on with your v productive day. I mean, you know the day’s off to a good start when you literally need sunglasses to open the refrigerator. Happy Sunday.

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