(This is a guest post by Jon Benson)
You may be wasting your time in the gym or at home if you are trying to shape your body or get rid of body fat.
Most people are. That is when it comes to exercise for getting rid of belly fat and getting into better shape.
I was in the gym today (nothing new… ; ) and I saw all 4 of these exercises being performed by various gym members (again… nothing new.)
And they are useless for 99% of the people on the planet.
Here they are…
USELESS EXERCISE 1: Walking Dumbbell Lunges
Okay ladies, this one is for you… although I see guys do this exercise as well.
This is where you take a pair of dumbbells and kneel with one leg, then the other, and so-on, walking around the gym as you go.
The idea behind this exercise is to work the butt, and to some extent the thighs… but it’s a joke. It’s something invented by trainers who should know better.
If you want to build and tone your butt, exercise one leg at a time. Lunges are a great exercise for this, but save your energy. Do them on a Smith Machine or with a barbell. Work one leg at a time, too. Do not alternate legs. This just wears you out aerobically before it has a chance to get to your glutes.
Here’s how I perform lunges: On a Smith Machine, with pretty heavy weights… one leg at a time. I will do 2-3 sets, or do them in my 7 Minute Body-style workout fashion. I will finish one leg (and one butt cheek) before moving to the other leg.
Why? Again, to focus on the muscle more intensely and to avoid turning a leg/butt workout into a cardio session.
USELESS EXERCISE 2: The Sit-up
I’m shocked that people still think sit-ups done the old-fashioned way actually work the abs. Even worse, most people have been fooled into believing this actually helps get rid of bellyfat.
Nonsense. Belly fat is burned off when you have a good nutrition plan and through general exercise, not using exercises for the abs. Ab exercises are fine, but guess what?
I never train my abs more than 3-5 minutes. Today my ab workout took 3 minutes and 12 seconds to complete. And my abs are sore!
But without a proper nutrition plan, forget it… I’d never SEE my abs at all. I’d just have a nice wall of muscle with a bunch of flab covering it up.
The best exercises to do for the actual ab muscles are hanging leg raises, done slowly, crunches (if you do them right)… and that’s really all you need.
USELESS EXERCISE 3: The Bench Press
I’m going to get a lot of flack from the guys out there who love to bench, but I’m here to tell you that this exercise for bodyshaping is all but worthless.
Why? Because most people are not built right body-wise to bench press on a flat bench with a barbell. I am not, that’s for sure.
Bench presses work if you have short arms, a relatively short torso, and your shoulders are genetically strong.
Protect your shoulders and really work your chest by doing incline dumbbell presses with your palms facing OUT, not in toward your head. This protects the rotator cuff, a part of the shoulder that is often injured using barbell bench presses.
Combine this with a good cable fly or press movement and you’re set. Again, you only need about 7-14 minutes of chest work tops to get the job done.
USELESS EXERCISE 4: Most Cardio Exercises
Yep… saved the best for last.
Here’s a fact: Most cardio (bike, treadmill, glider, whatever) is a waste to time… UNLESS you do it at the right time with the right nutrition plan.
The calories you burn from cardio will be easily negated simply by eating a bagel! Hardly effective for getting rid of bodyfat. Weight training and/or resistance training at home or with your body weight, is your best bet for exercise that burns-off mega-calories and keeps on burning long after the exercise session is over.
Here’s how to use traditional cardio wisely:
1. Do it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach;
2. Keep your heart rate down to 75% of your max (220 minus your age x .75 will give you this number, at least approximately);
3. “Burst” for 2-3 minutes in your session up to 85-90% of your max heart rate.
4. OR, do cardio right after weight or resistance training when your heart rate is already elevated and your blood sugar is lower. Your body burns blood sugar first during exercise.
Cardio for most people only needs to be performed 3-4 times a week for 20 minutes. The only time I break this rule is when I want to get my body fat below 10%. Then I will do more, but only using the rules above.
Hope this saves you a ton of time with your workouts.