There is a lot of advice out there on how to lift weights, how to perform the best, how to rest well, and a lot of popular influencers doing a lot of different exercises that you might want to try out. Exercise is great, and plenty of different exercises are going to benefit many, many different people. You are obviously free to train however you please in the gym, and to do the exercises you enjoy most, just note that the exercises in this article are not as effective as you might think and sometimes are even quite risky. If you want the best results for your time, train smart, and avoid performing those exercises that provide little, or no benefit to your training, even if they do seem interesting at the time.
But what exercises that seem to be popular with people online, on social media, and even in person in your local gym should you be avoiding?
1. The Svend press
This exercise is one that seems to be popular with quite a number of people. The ‘Svend press’ involves holding a weight plate between both palms at chest height whilst standing upright, and pushing it out forwards, often used to train the chest muscles. The Svend press doesn’t actually provide direct resistance against the chest, as it puts more stress on the deltoids, and because of gravity, the line of force is straight down to the ground. Gravity is not forcing your chest to push the weight up with a Svend press as you would on a bench or chest press, it is simply putting stress on the deltoids, without even providing a proper range of motion for them to benefit.
2. Reverse grip triceps pushdown (palms facing up)
This exercise is literally just a triceps pushdown, but instead of holding the bar hands down when extending the triceps, the grip is the opposite way round, facing up. A reverse grip pushdown is a bad idea because it doesn’t improve the range of motion at all vs a regular pushdown, and it places your wrists and grip in a compromised or generally weaker position. To simplify, you can push more weight, with more control, for more reps with a standard grip triceps pushdown than you can by swapping to a reverse grip for the sake of it.
3. Chest press with touching dumbbells
This exercise, similar to the last one, just makes a proven exercise (the regular chest press) less effective by changing its mechanics. Touching dumbbells throughout the repetitions when performing a chest press makes the movement harder to control as you have to keep both dumbbells together, and it means you can’t get an effective range of motion as the dumbbells will actually hit your chest before you properly complete each rep. This movement puts further emphasis on the triceps instead of the chest muscles, but doesn’t actually allow the triceps to get a proper range of motion either, so it’s an all round pointless exercise in comparison to regular pressing, push ups, etc.
4. Behind the neck lat pulldown
This seems to be a very popular exercise with some gym users, it involves pulling a wide bar down behind the head to the back of the neck (instead of in front of the face, down to the chest). Some people would argue that behind the neck looks better than a regular pull down, and some simply just think this is the correct way to perform the exercise. The issue with performing a lat pulldown behind the neck, is that it externally rotates the shoulders to a point where they are at risk of serious injury much more than a regular pulldown, with absolutely no measurable benefit in comparison. It is true that a behind the neck pulldown will work the latissimus dorsi muscle, but the injury risk compared to a regular pulldown makes it relatively pointless, as it provides no benefits whatsoever.
5. Plate curls
Plate curls are when someone performs a bicep curl, but replaces the barbell, or individual dumbbells with a large weight plate made for a barbell. Simply curling a plate may look good in the sense that it’s a physically large weight, but it is not effective in any way. Curling a large weight plate means that the elbows can only go so far down, and the bicep cannot extend sufficiently as it would with regular dumbbell curls, and depending on the plate the biceps may not be able to fully contract either. A plate curl is a perfect example of swapping something simple and effective for something else that may look cool, but actually just takes away from the full benefit of the exercise.
6. Core exercises for fat loss
Now, this is a slightly different example, but this is something many people in the gym do; training core to burn fat. Core exercises are fine, and beneficial to most people, but they are not effective fat burners. Doing hundreds of sit ups (literally) will burn very few calories, and take quite a lot of time, especially if you think about how going for a steady walk or a light jog would burn fat much more efficiently. If you are looking to burn fat and reveal the abdominal muscles underneath, there are many, many ways to achieve visible abs faster than doing numerous varieties of sit ups over and over again. When it comes to visible abs, the majority of significant results will come from diet, and watching calorie intake.