The 6 Worst Workouts At the Gym

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By Bill Bradley for : Cristiano Ronaldo Has Mankind’s Greatest Body

TRICEPS KICKBACKS Why they’re bad: This exercise–where you essentially extend your arm back with a dumbbell–is a longtime gym staple. But just because the guy at Gold’s told you do it back in 1998 doesn’t make it worth your time now. “Kickbacks put your shoulder in a poor position to move effectively, and also don’t allow you to load the movement with much weight,” he says. “For those reasons the movement generally won’t yield the results you’re looking for.”

What to do instead: Pushups. Never doubt body-weight exercises! Just wait a second and listen to McCarthy’s guide to proper form. “Make sure your hands are shoulder width apart, and your index fingers are parallel with each other. Externally rotate your elbow–point the elbow joint back–and lower your chest to the ground, maintaining a solid plank the whole time. Allow your chest–but not your thighs or ribcage–to touch the ground, and then press back to the top again. This is more effective at targeting your triceps, and it also works your core and your chest!”

ELLIPTICAL MACHINE Why it’s bad: You might think it’s low impact, but it’s putting your body in wacky positions. “The elliptical takes your body through an unnatural range of motion, unlike anything your body would do in real life,” he says. “Besides, any piece of equipment that encourages you to read a magazine while exercising shouldn’t be in a gym.”

What to do instead: Channel your inner Winklevoss and hit up the rowing machine. “If you’re going to be on a piece of cardio equipment, this is where you should be,” McCarthy says. “The rowing machine not only works almost every muscle in your body, but it also teaches you proper pulling mechanics. Revving the intensity up on this is a killer–try doing ten rounds of 30 seconds as hard as you can, and then 30 seconds of light rowing.”

LEG PRESS Why it’s bad: Unless you’re rehabbing an injury, steer clear of isolation exercises. “The leg press is an isolation exercise than places unnecessary strain on the lower back and doesn’t allow for proper muscle recruitment in the legs,” McCarthy says. “This can lead to all sorts of injuries of the knee and back.”

What to do instead: Squats. Yes, more squats. “Once again, we find ourselves back at the squat rack,” McCarthy says, laughing. “Load that barbell with a weight you can comfortably handle for three sets of five reps. Next time you squat, add five pounds to that weight, and do your 3×5 again. Continue this progression, squatting three times a week, and you’ll find yourself getting extremely strong extremely quick.”

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