There’s little doubt that physical activity plays a role in achieving and sustaining weight loss. But just like there’s a bit more to the trope “eat less,” when it comes to dropping pounds, there are also caveats to the “move more” advice. Specifically, some exercises and workouts are best avoided altogether because they’re either unsafe, ineffectual, a waste of time, or all of the above. Below are nine to steer clear of.
1. Biceps Curls
“If someone needs to lose 50+ pounds, they really need to stick to exercises that work the biggest muscle groups to get the largest calorie-burning effects,” says Stephen Box, fitness trainer and owner of Stephen Box Fitness & Nutrition in Suwanee, GA. That means any exercises that target any one small muscle or muscle group, such as biceps curls, triceps extensions, and calf raises, are a waste of your gym time. Plus, as Box points out, the biceps get worked when you’re doing back exercises such as rows, and the triceps assist the chest in pushups and chest presses, so it’s not like you won’t be strengthening them otherwise.
2. Flat Bench Press
Compound movements (i.e., exercises that engage multiple muscles) are great. Less so are any exercises in which your range of movement might be limited by excessive weight. “The lying-down position of a flat bench press can be very hard to get in and out of for some people,” says Alexander M. McBrairty, a personal trainer and the owner of A-Team Fitness in Ann Arbor, MI. “Plus, extra weight can reduce the range of motion with this exercise, making it less effective overall.” If you really want to do a bench press, put it on an incline. Better still, bring your chest-press exercise vertical by using a cable machine.