Now before you grab your pitch fork. I know you’re probably thinking, ‘no way can this be a bad exercise!’ And you’d be right. The thing is that, whilst it targets your core from all angles, once you’re able to hold the plank for at least minute and a half quite comfortably then you’ve pretty much gained all of the benefits of this exercise. Being able to hold the plank for 5 mins is not going to make your core much stronger than being able to hold the plank for 90 seconds. Holding the plank for anything more than roughly 90 seconds is training your core’s endurance rather than strength.
Recommendation: If you really like doing the plank but can already hold it for 90 seconds comfortably, then you should really seek to increase the intensity, if you wish to see additional gains from the plank. One really easy way of doing this is to add some additional resistance in the form of some kind of weight. For example, you could place a dumbbell or a plate on your lower back, or even have someone press down on your lower back for added resistance.
This one frustrates me because it’s been popularised over Instagram in the form of viral videos, where people show off how long they can hold a wall-sit or how many plates they can hold before their knees collapse and the leaning tower of plates falls on them (fyi, I’m a gym-fail connoisseur).
The only real benefit of doing the wall-sit is to rehabilitate your knees, if you experience knee pain. Having said that, the positioning of the wall-sit i.e. vertical shins and completely vertical, upright torso, means that there is minimal to no carryover benefit to other squat variations and, sporting ability in general. Wall-sits completely take your glutes, hamstrings and, basically, your entire posterior chain out of the equation, which makes completely no sense if your goal is to presumably strengthen your lower body.
Recommendation: Do barbell squats. There are plenty of variations. Leave wall-sits to the realm of gym fail videos on Instagram.
- Bench dips
This is another exercise that people do because they saw other people do it. I wouldn’t recommend this one because you’re putting an unnecessary amount of stress on the front of the shoulders. If you think about it this way: it’s a disproportionately large amount of weight (entire torso and a bit of lower body) being stabilised by a little sliver of your shoulders. The stress on the shoulders is only worsened if you then elevate your legs on another bench.
Recommendation: Close-grip bench press. Tricep push-downs. Either of these, when done with proper form, are light years ahead of what, by today’s standards, is the quite primitive bench dip. With proper scapula retraction, your shoulders will stay healthy and triceps will be thoroughly demolished when performing these exercises.
Yup, this one too. A lot of people don’t realise that the core is not just your tummy. It’s your entire mid-section, i.e. tummy, lower back, hip flexors, glutes, obliques. Sit-ups only really target your tummy, but the real reason for it being on this list is that doing them may put at a greater risk of disc herniation and disc bulge, according to spine bio-mechanics expert Dr. Stuart McGill.
Recommendation: Any plank variations. Just remember that once you’re able to hold whatever plank variation for at least 90 seconds, it’s time to increase the difficulty.
Oh yeah, this one for sure. The 21s were originally created for the shoulder, since there are three heads on the shoulder: 7 reps for the anterior, 7 for the lateral and 7 for the posterior. However, nowadays, 21s are regarded (wrongly, so) to be one of the best exercises for biceps. (I, too, used to believe this lie). I think the reason why it’s hailed as one of the best bicep movements is because you do, admittedly, get a great pump from it. Then, again, if you do 21 reps of anything, you’re bound to get a pump. It’s important to know that a pump is just blood filling the muscle and not necessarily muscle damage, which is what we want.
The main problem of the bicep-version of 21s is that for 14 of the 21 reps, the full range of motion is not being performed. If your goal is to build muscle, which, let’s be real, it most certainly is if you’re performing bicep curls, then you should be performing every movement will full range of motion with EVERY single rep.
Recommendation: Perform ‘mercy 30s’, conjured by Scott Herman, instead. What these basically are three sets of 10 reps of bicep curls, with three different grips, done back-to-back, using an EZ barbell, straight barbell or even on a cable machine. First, 10 reps of wide-grip bicep curls, then 10 reps of medium-grip bicep curls and lastly, 10 reps of close-grip bicep curls, which all in all, equal one set. Obviously, you’re going to be using quite a low weight. This one is not for the faint-hearted.
There you go! That was just a quick list of some of the exercises I see all the time being done that I feel people should kick to the curb, like an old pair of trainers you’ve been holding onto for too long. It’s time to for some new fresh kicks.