5 Exercises That You Could Do Without

We’re all aware of the importance of working out. We’re reminded of it through health magazines, social media posts, and even the initiatives launched by the former First Lady. And, if there’s one thing that’s central to all workout routines, it is effectiveness. After all, all that huffing and puffing shouldn’t be for nothing. Unfortunately, some exercises might be keeping you from reaching your fitness goals. Here are a few such exercises.

1. Sit Ups

Sit ups cause back injuries.

For the longest time, sit ups were believed to be the go-to exercise for toned abs and a slim waistline. However, sit ups are hard on your back.

When you’re performing a sit up, your curved spine is pushed against the floor and all the work goes into your hip flexors. Hip flexors are muscles that run from the thighs to the lumbar vertebrae in the lower back. And, when they’re too strong or tight, they tug on the lower spine and cause lower back discomfort.

Sit ups also strengthen only a few abdominal muscle groups, not the entire core. And, in sports and recreational activities you’d need to engage all your core muscles at the same time. So, if you’d like to optimize your core workout, opt for planks instead. They work all your core muscles (front, sides, and back) and are better for your back.1

2. Pilates Exercises

Pilates exercises don’t improve body composition

Although not an isolated exercise, pilates had to be mentioned since it has grown in popularity. And, if your goal is to improve posture and get a lean body structure, then pilates might not be the best way to go about it.

Research states that while pilates does improve flexibility, it has very little effects on body composition, health status, and posture.2 Instead, opt for resistance training which improves muscle tone and strength, improves posture, maintains flexibility, burns fat, builds stamina, and has a positive effect on mood.3

3. Resistance Band Exercises

Resistance bands don’t add to free weight exercises.

Resistance bands have become all the rage across social media. It is claimed that they up the intensity and effectiveness of free weight exercises. However, studies state that there is no difference between the effectiveness of free weight exercises and that of these exercises with resistance bands.4

To add to this, the process of setting up the free weights with resistance bands is complicated and prone to errors. Hence, it isn’t advised for beginners. So, instead of investing in resistance bands only to be disappointed later, it might be a good idea to stick to the traditional free weights routine.5

Smith Machine Squats

Free weight squats are better than Smith machine squats.

Of the many exercise machines that you’ll find at the gym, especially if you’ve just begun working out, is the Smith machine. Popular for building lower body strength, the Smith machine doesn’t require you to control the movement of the barbell, since it has a fixed pathway already.

Studies compared squats using this machine to free weight squats. And, the results state that of the two, the latter has greater benefits when it comes to strengthening the plantar flexors, knee flexors, and knee extensors. Free weight squats also have a slight edge over Smith machine squats when it comes to muscle building and strengthening. So, while free weights are definitely a better bet, do talk to your trainer about the best options for you, when it comes to weighted squats.6

Behind-The-Neck Lateral Pull Down

Behind-the-neck lat pull down causes injuries.

A popular variation of the lateral pull down is behind-the-neck lat pull down. It is said to increase back strength. However, research indicates that it isn’t a good lat pull down technique because of the high risk of injury associated with it. The exercise puts undue stress on the intervertebral discs of the neck and the rotator cuff muscle group. Hence, it might be a good idea to stick with a front lateral pull down.7


it comes to workouts and exercises, effectiveness can be subjective. What might work for one might not work for another. And, it’s important to work with a trainer to understand what options best suit you. Lastly, be sure to warm up and stretch properly to avoid injuries.