Exercise Machines You Don’t Need

A man using a weight machineWalking into the gym and expecting a great workout is like walking into the grocery store and expecting a fancy gourmet meal. Sure, the basics you need are there, but you also need a little knowledge and dedication to enjoy a perfect entree.

To help you make the most of every workout, we’re “weighing in” on what you shouldn’t bother with at the gym…as well as more reliable exercise alternatives.

1. Leg-Curl Machine

What it should do: Train the quadriceps.

What it actually does: Your hamstrings move in two ways – knee flexion and hip extension. The leg curl machine works knee flexion, it strengthens a motion your legs aren’t actually designed to do, and can put undue strain on the ligaments and tendons surrounding the kneecaps.

A better way: One-legged body-weight squats. Lift one leg up and bend the opposite knee, dipping as far as you can, with control, while flexing at the hip, knee, and ankle. Use a rail for support until you develop requisite leg strength and balance. Aim for five to 10 reps on each leg. (If you are susceptible to knee pain, do the Bulgarian split squat instead, resting the top of one foot on a bench positioned two to three feet behind you. Descend until your thigh is parallel to the ground and then stand back up. Do five to 10 reps per leg.)