The 6 Most Useless Stretches and Exercises – and Better Alternatives


Unlike stretching, (below) which only takes only a couple of seconds, exercising takes a fair bit of time out of your day. So you want to be sure that you are selecting the absolute most efficient exercises available. No one wants to waste time burning energy if it’s not going to result in a loss of fat, or an increase in muscle mass.

Click on the “Underrated” links for a video version of the exercise in question.

1. Overrated: Pull Ups

Putting aside the fact that pull ups are hard, and not many people can manage to hammer out more than like two or three, it turns out the exercise is not even all that great for the body, putting unnecessary and sometimes dangerous pressure on your shoulder muscles and bones.

Underrated: Inverted Row

Instead of starting from an absolute dead hang like some kind of orangutan, Ben Hendrickson, NSCA-certified master-level trainer, suggests instead the inverted row pull up. This approach has the participant pulling themselves up to a bar from a 30 degree angle.

2. Overrated: Leg Press

No one even likes doing the leg press. It’s painful to pump out those reps and it makes you knees feel like they are about to burst out of their sockets. That aside, the leg press only targets one muscle group. In other words, “the strength you gain on a leg press doesn’t translate into everyday activities,” says Lauren Gould, ACE-Certified personal trainer.

Underrated: Clockwork Lunges

Unlike the above, clockwork lunges target multiple muscle groups and provide functional real world strength. After a couple sessions doing clockwork lunges you will notice that things like climbing the stairs or carrying those heavy groceries have suddenly become a lot easier.

3. Overrated: Crunches

Crunches are really pretty simple when you start crunching the biological numbers. You just lie down on the ground and start lifting your head, which is not very thought through. Case-in-point: crunches are actually one of the least effective strengthener of any abdominal area because they do not target any major abdominal muscle group.
Things can be improved.

Underrated: The Plank

The plank is just as easy to do as a crunch (easier, actually) and provides a host of benefits that the crunch does not. In addition to targeting multiple abdominal areas, research has actually shown that this position can help lower the risk of lower back pain developing later on in life because it almost completely bypasses all stress on the spine while simultaneously strengthening the muscles that constitute back strength and stability.


The main thing to take away from this is the fact that when it comes to pre-workouts, the idea of the static stretch—that is, holding a limb in place for an extended period of time— is a thing of the past. Those types of stretches are fine for a post-workout scenario, but if are not warmed up yet, you want to be using dynamic stretches.

Let’s look at a couple right now.

1. Overrated: The Quad Stretch

Shying away from this stretch works out well because it is the one that most people seem to have some degree of trouble with anyway. Instead of staring at that one spot on the ground as you try to maintain your balance, give up this stretch all together.

Underrated: Butt Kicks

Stretching is moving away from static holds and more toward variable-motion options. Butt kicks involve “jogging” forward while kicking your heels back toward you butt before landing on the balls of your feet. It’s easier on your body, and easier to do without falling over.

2. Overrated: The Butterfly Stretch

You know the butterfly stretch where you push the bottoms of your feet together and push down on the inside of your knees while sitting on the floor? It is a common stretch that works your groin and inner thighs.

Yeah, don’t do that one.

Underrated: The Dynamic Groin Stretch

This variation is fairly similar to the above stretch with one big difference: you are standing up. You still spread your legs and keep your back straight, but this time you simply squat down, stretching out your groin and inner thighs without the need to press on the sides of your kneecaps.

3. Overrated: The Standing Hamstring Stretch

The standing hamstring stretch is the consummate “runners stretch” where you lift your leg up onto something and lean down towards the foot with your hands, attempting to touch your toe. As it turns out, this one wreaks havoc on your hamstring.

Underrated: The Leg Hugger

The leg hugger stretch involves standing on one foot, bringing your other knee up to your chest so that you can “hug” it inwards and upwards, touching your quad muscles to your sternum.

Simon is a writer and content specialist who is addicted to being on the front page of anything. A graduate of Dalhousie University, he specializes in using the em dash too often. Currently, Simon rests his typing hands in Vancouver, Canada. Check out his recent thoughts on gaming.


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