Heading to the gym with a solid workout plan is a surefire way to have a successful, efficient sweat session. But figuring out exactly what strength exercises to do can get a little tricky. While certain exercises (think biceps curls and crunches) seem like easy, familiar choices, they’re not always the best bet for seeing results. In fact, just because everyone’s doing a certain move, doesn’t mean it’s even safe.
“It’s important to measure the risk-to-benefit ratio of any exercise,” says Susie Crossland-Dwyer, strength and run coach and founder of Studio S in Cincinnati, OH. She tends to avoid exercises that target a single muscle or muscle group and moves that carry little benefit with a high risk of injury. So what are the strength exercises trainers never do? Here are eight for starters, plus recommendations for safer, more effective substitutions.
Old news that still rings true: Crunches aren’t nearly as effective as other core exercises. Yet people still continue to do them. “A lot of exercise enthusiasts do crunches ad nauseam without really increasing their core strength,” says Crossland-Dwyer. What’s worse is the move can lead to neck or back pain and sometimes hip issues.