4 Exercises Women Should Never Do (and 4 You Should Do Instead)

Confused as to why you’re seeing opposite results from your workout? It’s possible that you’re working out the wrong way without even knowing it! You may think that an exercise is working your body a certain way, when in fact you’re setting yourself up to get very different results.

Worried this could be true about your fitness routine? Here are four exercises that women should avoid — and what they should do instead. Our list starts off with an exercise you probably didn’t realize you were doing wrong…

Side bends with weights

woman measuring her waist

This exercise may be making your waist bigger. | Marina Zg/iStock/Getty Images Plus

This standing abdominal exercise probably seems like a great way to whittle your waist. But this is actually the exact opposite of a love handle-burning exercise. As AskTheTrainer.com explains, this exercise is actually working your side muscles and making your waist even bigger.

Next: Instead, you should try…

Side plank

Fit woman doing side plank yoga pose

Side planks are a much better alternative. | iStock.com/undrey

Lose the weights and go for a side plank, which will help build your core all while streamlining your midsection. Take a cue from Women’s Health and lie on your side on an exercise mat with your legs extended straight. Prop yourself up on your forearm and engage your abs to hold yourself up. Hold for 60 seconds before lowering your hips to the floor to rest.

Next: Another exercise you should avoid…

Weighted squats

woman doing squats with dumbbells

Be prepared for bulkier thighs with this exercise. | iStock.com/LunaMarina

Squats are a great all-over workout for your lower body. But if you’re looking to streamline and tone your legs, this is the absolute wrong exercise. AskTheTrainer.com explains that, like with side bends, the added resistance from the weights is bulking up your leg muscles instead of burning fat and toning. Plus, using heavy weights ups your chance of suffering from a knee injury.

Next: Instead, you should try…

Lunges

happy people doing lunge exercises in the gym

Lunges are the key to strength without bulk. | iStock.com/dolgachov

For legs that are strong but not bulky, opt for lunges without the weights. Chron recommends doing front and side lunges, which work your leg muscles are well as your glutes and abs. Just make sure you have proper form for this exercise — ill form can result in knee injury. Start with two sets of ten repetitions per leg, switching legs after each repetition.

Next: Another exercise you should avoid…

Behind-the-neck lateral pulldowns

Woman using a pulldown bar machine in the gym

Pulling the bar behind your neck is sure to cause issues in the long run. | Boggy22/iStock/Getty Images

To be honest, neither men nor women should do this outdated and misunderstood exercise. Pulling the bar down behind your neck is improper form and doesn’t target your lats effectively. Plus, it puts unnecessary pressure on your upper spine, which can lead to neck and back injury.

Next: Instead, you should try…

Proper lateral pulldowns with free weights

Woman lifting weights and working on her shoulders

Try using free weights to ensure proper form. | iStock.com/SolisImages

Step away from the machine all together and perform lateral pulldowns with free weights. The key here is to make sure your arms are positioned ever so slightly forward of your shoulders so you are able to properly target the area underneath your shoulder blades. Try three sets of 12 repetitions, taking 30 second breaks in between reps.

Next: A final exercise to avoid…

Glute kickbacks

yoga girl doing exercises for her glutes

Sorry, but this exercise isn’t as great as you think. | iStock.com/fizkes

This exercise has been a popular staple in aerobics classes for decades. So why is it that women should avoid it? As AskTheTrainer points out, this “exercise” is actually just a waste of time and has little to no impact on your glutious muscles because of the lack of resistance involved.

Next: Instead, you should try…

Squats

woman performing squats

Squats are key for strengthening the glutes. | LarsZahnerPhotography/iStock/Getty Images

Remember how we said earlier that squats are great for working your lower body? Its specialty is targeting your glutes, making it the perfect replacement for the non-effective glute kickbacks. Start with doing three sets on ten squats, taking 30 second breaks in between repetitions. And, like with lunges, being aware of form will help keep you from injuring  your knees.

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