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4 Useless Exercises

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

In our years of teaching, we have definitely seen some wacky exercise choices. We could do a list of 100, but decided to randomly pick 4 that we’ve either taught (Hello 1980s) or seen colleagues teach. We’re sure these all made sense at the time, you know, before anatomy & physiology were invented. Possibly a few laws of physics too.

1. Arm circles – jog in place and circle your arms around until your shoulders fall off.

Cardio Arm Circles

Cardio Arm Circles are Serious Business

2. Side-lying leg lifts – Think “feel the burn.” Why would you want to feel burned?

side-lying leg raise

Jane, that doesn't even look comfortable!

3. Windmill toe-touches – Way to go with the unsupported forward flexion and repeated, quick spinal rotation.

Cardio Windmills

Come on, Twist that Spine w/ Windmills

4. Frantic “bicycle” crunches – elbows forward and to knees, with wild spinal twists. By the way, if you slow down and do this one with good form, it goes from the “silly” to the “great exercise” category. In the spirit of sharing, here is the correct way to do this one (note armpits, not elbows, to knees slowly).

PS Yes, we did survive all of the above. Somehow…..

Exercisers: What are some of the most useless moves or exercises you have done?

Photo credits: Creative Commons – loufi

About Fun and Fit

Get practical exercise advice, your fitness questions answered, and cutting edge health edu-tainment that is accessible and doable from long time fitness experts, Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA. We have taught on land, sea, and airwaves for 3 decades on 4 continents. From writing to speaking, emceeing to hosting a radio show, reviewing products to teaching classes, we believe that little steps turn into big paths. Move a little more than the day before. FitFluential Ambassadors and award-winners both online and off.

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18 Responses to 4 Useless Exercises

  1. Amy Good (splintergirl) October 24, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    “I think I just popped a tire!” HA! I think I’ve done all of these at one time or another. So, was the reason for recommending them “back in the day” more of doing them until you tired so the muscle felt worked. I know those leg lifts were always killer.

    • AlexandraFunFit October 24, 2011 at 12:15 pm #

      I think it was more a case of not yet having the research or understanding of how muscles worked with joints. At the start of “aerobics” we mostly borrowed moves from dance or made stuff up. We thought the “burn” meant effective. It just meant lactic acid.
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Inner Thigh Exercises to Rock Your JeansMy Profile

  2. Meg Root October 24, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    8 years straight . . . 2pm . . . Oak Tree gym . . . Rancho La Puerta . . . side lying leg lifts for “Bottom Line class!” They sure did burn, and now I have a brand new shiny hip to remind me of those good ole days. Love those videos! Very funny!

    • AlexandraFunFit October 24, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

      Ouch. Yup, with your new metal (?) hip, you can feel the burn even faster, especially on hot days! What were we thinking with some of those dumb moves? Sigh… You’ll be excited (or frightened) to know we have 4 more useless exercises coming up next week.
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Wrong & Right Way to do Oblique Ab CrunchesMy Profile

  3. Dawn October 24, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    Not to mention that Ms. Fonda isn’t doing anything except working her hip flexors by doing side leg lifts in that position….
    Dawn recently posted..How do you top a stoned cat? [Holiday card giveaway]My Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit October 24, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

      Excellent point Dawn. And we all know that women in particular tend to have very tight hip flexors. Thanks for mentioning it.
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Preventing Shin SplintsMy Profile

  4. Brian Meeks October 25, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    What does it say to me that the title, “4 Useless Exercises,” caused my brain to say, “Hey, that sounds perfect for you.”

    It was interesting though. I think I will spend some time on the Wii tonight. Just because you motivated me.
    Brian Meeks recently posted..Henry Wood: Edge of Understanding Ch 45My Profile

    • KymberlyFunFit October 25, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

      Brian – Be sure to do your useless arm circles while Wiiiiiing away! If your brain was talking to you, then we know you are staying active. Stay on that Edge of Understanding!
      KymberlyFunFit recently posted..Exercise Your Right to a Better BrainMy Profile

  5. John Poole October 25, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    Wow! You two are anthropologists of useless exercises! Good to see these exercise relegated to the dust bin of history. Maybe you could make this a regular column (e.g., each month, dispose of yet another time-honored bogus exercise).

    • KymberlyFunFit October 25, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

      I see your plot and call you out on it. We eliminate an exercise per month, day, or week until we are left with nothing. Then you will not exercise and have a good excuse. Hmm, I see where you are going with this. Oh and sadly, we see people doing every one of these moves even now. We must, we must, we must send to the dust …
      KymberlyFunFit recently posted..Inner Thigh Exercises to Rock Your JeansMy Profile

      • John Poole October 25, 2011 at 10:51 pm #

        Conspiracy-theorize much? ;-)

        • Fun and Fit October 25, 2011 at 10:55 pm #

          Who told you to ask me that?

  6. kim October 26, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    Couple of those brought back memories. Can’t recall windmills other than in movies about the military (Biloxi Blues, etc) The running-arm-circling thing was entertaining. Might this lead to a video with a kind of SNL take on exercise? With enough creative stupidity, might go viral.

    • Fun and Fit October 26, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

      Something viral and stupid? Hmmm, we might take this on! We’re into mega-fame and millions of hits. In fact, if SNL calls, we will even pick up. Make it so, ok? Thanks for the suggestion. To see windmills still in action, go to any sports field.

  7. STUFT Mama October 26, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    Okay this is just plain AWESOME!!!!!!! Love it! You got all the good ones. :) What about the inner thigh laying on your side one? I used to do that ALL the time. ha! Thanks for the laughs today!
    STUFT Mama recently posted..Workout Wednesday- Two Quick Moves of the WeekMy Profile

    • Alexandra October 26, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

      Hey, Stuft Mama, you are so right. We have already filmed a few for the next installment and I believe we need to add the one you suggest. I remember doing that one until everything hurt. In the wrong way. And feel free to laugh at us; many do. With us, not as much!

  8. Anna October 27, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

    I don’t think that they are useless. They make you practice all difficult muscle group but at the same time you are not sweating like a dog:)
    Anna recently posted..Who cares about the tooth veneers cost nowadays?My Profile

  9. Jonathan | World Of Diets October 30, 2011 at 1:29 am #

    I used to do a ton of ab crunches. Alas, the way to really burn belly fat isn’t through endless crunches but total body fat burning exercises and intense cardio.

    Thanks for this post.
    Jonathan | World Of Diets recently posted..Running To Lose Weight – Tips For a Fast Fat LossMy Profile

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