You’re not a gym newbie. You’ve perfected your workout routine through weeks of hard work. You might not know it, though, but some of those gym machines might be doing you more harm than good. Shape lays out the 7 exercises and machines to skip at the gym. Check out the first three below and go here to read the rest!
Hip Abduction/Abduction Machine
The hip abduction and abduction machines feel incredible: You can use a lot of weight, so you feel strong, and both exercises leave you with a serious burn. But they’re dangerous, says Nick Tumminello, owner of Performance University in Baltimore, because your body isn’t designed for those movements.
“There’s nothing remotely like these movements in life,” he says. The muscles the machines work “are primarily stabilizers for when you’re standing or moving around. When you do a stepup or lunge, you’re working them, plus all the other stuff.”
What to do instead: Get out of the chair and work abduction and adduction while standing, suggests Aaron Brooks, a biomechanics expert and owner of Perfect Postures in Auburndale, Mass. Affix a band or the handle of a cable machine around your right ankle while you stand with the machine (or fixed point of the band) on your left. Keeping an erect posture, lift your weighted leg out and away from your body to 3 o’clock. To perform the adduction (pulling in)maneuver, stand with your weighted leg next to the machine, crossing it in front of your planted leg to 9 o’clock.
Why it’s better: “With the cable hooked to your right leg, balancing on your left leg, you’re engaging your core, working the adduction or abduction, and the leg you’re stabilizing—you’re getting a tremendous amount of strength in that leg,” Brooks says.
The seated torso rotation will tone your abs through rotation, “but at the price of beating up on your spine,” Tumminello says. “When you rotate your spine, your hips are designed to rotate as well.”
What to do instead: Get the core-sculpting benefits of rotation without risking your back with standing cable chops. Stand to the right of the high pulley of a cable machine and grab the handle with straight arms over your left shoulder. Keeping your arms straight, pull the handle down and across your body to your right hip, twisting at the core and the hips. Return to start and repeat. Finish your reps, and repeat on the other side.
Leg Extension Machine
The leg extension machine ties an unnatural movement with a dangerous weight placement, Brooks says.
“Because the load is on one end [instead of centered], there’s tremendous strain on the knee,” he says. “And most times, people aren’t sitting in the chair properly. They’re trying to generate more force by moving their pelvis.”
What to do instead: Natural movements. Even without weights, exercises like squats and lunges will train your thighs better while sculpting your butt and challenging your core.