SQUEEZING gym time into our busy schedules, in between work, childcare, friends, hobbies, can be a feat.
Managing to get some exercise in definitely deserves a pat on the back – but a fitness pro has warned you could wasting you hard-won time doing exercises that aren't effective.
"With the bit of time we have to train, we want to choose the best movements to maximise our gains," Alain Gonzalez, behind the YouTube channel musclemonsters, said.
In a recent video uploaded to his channel, he said there are five exercises in particular that you're probably wasting your time on.
The fitness expert was quick to point out that "all physical activity, including resistance training of any form, can be beneficial".
But Alain argued that some common exercises you could be doing at the gym just aren't as good as some of their alternatives.
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"Small adjustments made over time will lead to major improvements in the long run," he added.
1. Front raises
Front raises involve extending your arms and lifting them in line with your shoulder, usually with a dumbbell.
This exercise works your anterior deltoids – these are the muscles in front of your shoulders.
But Alain stated that "not only are over-developed front delts nothing to brag about, but they can also be detrimental to your overall physique and your posture".
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According to the fitness pro, being hunched over a laptop or phone all day means the front of your shoulders is "constantly flexed, while the rear delts and upper back are in an extended position".
Your front shoulder muscles are also activated in other movements such as bench presses and overhead shoulder presses, which Alain suggested you focus on instead.
"Replace any direct front delt work with a reverse fly that targets the rear delts," he added.
The trainer also advised you perform rotator cuff exercises – these will strengthen the smaller muscles in your shoulders, he claimed, increasing stability and reducing risk of injury.
2. Dumbbell rotator cuff exercises
On the subject of rotator cuff exercises, Alain said doing these with a dumbbell are a waste of your time.
But don't omit them completely from your routine, he went on, as they can prevent muscle imbalances and injury.
Instead, you can use a cable machine or resistance bands to do it.
Or instead of standing up to do this exercise with a dumbbell, Alain suggester you lie down on your side, keeping your elbow at your waist and slowly raising the weight towards the ceiling.
"The key with all three of these options is to align the line of resistance with the line needed to train the rotator cuff," the fitness pro said.
3. Dumbbell tricep kickbacks
This exercise involves hinging forward with your arms tucked to your sides and then extending them behind you till they straighten, which works your triceps.
But Alain said that "ultimately only half of the range of motion places tension on the tricep, so half the time spent doing these exercises isn't doing anything for the tricep".
He argued that performing a kickback on a cable machine "was far more effective", as tension would remain on your tricep the entire time.
4. Smith machine squats
"From a muscle building perspective, machines and free weights are equally effective in building muscle," Alain said.
But he added that free weight exercises require more balance and coordination.
"If there's no reason for you to not perform free weight barbell or dumbbell exercises, the majority of your exercises should be performed with them."
Still want to use machines?
The fitness pro suggested you slot these in towards the end of your workout.
5. Side bends
Performing side bends with heavy dumbbell in one hand will actually give you "a big, wide, bulky waist" instead of a "tight waist", Alain argued.
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He suggested replacing the exercises with side bends and static holds like planks, to increase the stability in your core and increase "your spinal rotation range of motion".
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