Today I am going to run you through three exercises we’ve crowned the worst, purely because they’re doing nothing for your muscles nor your waistline and we think that exercise should be about maximum results with a minimum of resources.
1. SIT UPS / CRUNCHES
In my last fitness post I mentioned “five things I wish I knew when I started working out”. I loosely told you that “Crunches aren’t crucial for abs“, based on the fact that they strengthen only a few of the muscles in your core. Furthermore, the more often you perform these movements, the more likely you are to be able to cheat the exercise and get next to no benefits from them. I know someone (Jonathan) who used to do hundreds of them, with limited results.
Crunches and sit-ups involve spinal flexion and too much flexion of the spine can lead to disc problems over time. Ouch! So my suggestion is to trade them in for the following.
TRADE SIT UPS / CRUNCHES FOR THE FOLLOWING
- Planks: Get into a belly-down position with your elbows bent and your body supported by just your forearms and your toes. Hold for a minute at a time.
- Ab Roller / Ab Wheel: Hold the Ab Wheel with both hands and kneel on the floor or yoga mat. Slowly roll the Ab Wheel straight forward, stretching your body into a straight position. Tip: Go down as far as you can without touching the floor with your body.
- Side Planks: Get into a similar position as a front plank but support yourself on one arm, so that your bellybutton is turned to the side. Hold for 1 minute alternating sides.
All these exercises involve continuous engagement of your midsection, rather than limited engagement and then lying on your back for ten seconds cursing whoever invented crunches.
Crunches and sit-ups involve spinal flexion and too much flexion of the spine can lead to disc problems over time.
Last Monday I touched on spot reduction, for those of you who are tuning in now, basically fat can’t be targeted for reduction from a specific area of the body, it just doesn’t work that way. This includes things like focusing on doing bicep curls to target your arm jiggle, crunches (crunches again!) to target belly fat and things like leg press (a bad exercise in and of itself) to tone your thighs. As we’ve discussed, these types of workouts simply won’t and can’t lead to preferential fat loss.
TRADE SPOT REDUCTION ATTEMPTS WITH
- Firstly, lose excess body fat: Cut down on your portions, fatty foods, sugary drinks etc, etc, etc. I’m going to talk about easy dietary things you can do to turbocharge your weight loss later in the week, so check back in
- Build muscle: muscle burns a tonne of calories, as does strength training. I will be coming up with some work outs that you can do over the next few weeks. Also, if you have anything you’d like me to cover, be sure to holla!
- Cardio time: It doesn’t just help you sweat out the fat from your body, but gives you sleek and toned arms too! And while cardio is great for boosting metabolism, there’s also a downside, which leads me to the third worst exercise below.
Cardiovascular exercise would seem to be the most straight-forward exercise there is, right? Wrong, most people think that extended cardio sessions will make the fat melt off of them, but it is simply not the case – it can often be quite unsafe. Studies have shown long-time marathon runners might have incurred heart disease from extreme cardiovascular exercise . A recent article from the New York Times explores the notion of intense and prolonged cardio exercise might cause heart ‘fibrosis’ (scarring) which leads to thickening of certain portions of the heart. The thickening tissue can result in irregular heart-beats and contribute to the likelihood of eventual heart failure.
I am all for incredibly efficient workouts that you can complete in just 20 minutes – especially when the health benefit are far greater than exercising for extended periods of time.
Rather than wasting hours doing a workout that gives you nothing but bad knees, twisted ankles try the following. The great thing about amping up the intensity of your workout you will burn more total calories each minute during your workout. Hell to the yeah!
TRADE EXTENDED CARDIO FOR INTERVAL TRAINING
Interval training or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT):
- 0:00-2:00: Warm up, moving at a slow pace.
- 2:00-3:00: Go all out, pushing yourself as hard and fast as possible. (Should be to 90% of your maximum heart rate)
- 3:00-4:00:Active recovery: Catch your breath. (Should be to 60% of your maximum heart rate)
- Repeat (15 minute workout)
- Cool down