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3 Fitness Favorites That Are Over-Hyped

Gina Harney - Blogs
By Gina HarneyCertified personal trainerSeptember 25, 2018
From the WebMD Archives

While you’ll never see me run toward someone in the gym and yell, “NOOOOOO! Stop what you’re doing!” – I have to admit that sometimes I’m a little tempted. There are a few exercises out there that don’t offer a ton of functional benefits – we would never do these motions in real life - but seem to be gym favorites. I feel like these exercises are over-hyped, and some of them set clients up for a higher injury potential than benefit.

Here are some of the culprits and some exercises that you can do instead!


Crunches isolate the rectus abdominis muscles, which are our six-pack muscles on the outside of our core. It sounds like a good idea in theory, but crunches don’t strengthen the internal muscles of the core, which are responsible for protecting our back and moving our spine safely. There’s no point in having strong six-pack muscles if our inner core is weak.

What you can do instead:

Planks! Focus on drawing the belly in, breathing, and create a long line from your head to your heels. If you need to, modify by planking with your knees on the floor or a mat, or perform your plank standing with your hands on the wall or a countertop.


Push-ups strengthen the muscles in our chest, but for most of us, that area is already too strong and tight. Tight chest muscles pull everything forward, which can create poor posture, rounded shoulders, and back pain. Instead of push-ups, focus on stretching these muscles (shoulder and chest stretches feel amazing!) and strengthening your back.

What you can do instead:

Bent-over rows. These will help to promote good posture and balanced upper body strength. Holding onto some dumbbells or water bottles for resistance, stand with your feet just under your hips, with a slight bend at the knees. Hinge forward from your hips, keeping your back flat (shoulders pulled back) and core braced. Lifting up from your elbows, bring them in towards your torso, engaging into your rear delts (shoulder muscles). Stop the elbows at torso height before carefully lowering back down.


I actually do love lunges, and I think they’re efficient for strengthening our lower body, but I think they’re overhyped. Also, they’re not for everyone as they can cause knee pressure that can make those with muscle imbalances or previous injury feel pain.

What you can do instead:

Hip bridges. Bridges are a simple way to strengthen our glute muscles (which are large muscle groups but commonly very weak). Start on your back with legs bent and feet flat on the floor. Squeeze your glutes to lift your hips, keeping your upper back pressing into the floor. Lower down towards the floor (don’t touch it!) and exhale to rise back up.

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About the Author
Gina Harney

Gina Harney is the blogger behind the healthy lifestyle brand, The Fitnessista, which reaches millions of viewers all over the world. She’s been featured on Greatist, Forbes, Buzzfeed, Shape, Fitness Magazine, and Well + Good. She’s the author of “HIIT It!” and the voice behind the Healthy In Real Life podcast. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.

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