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9 Least Effective Exercises

Experts name their top picks for fitness moves that are best to avoid.

Potentially Unsafe Exercises continued...

A safer alternative: It's not necessary to use weights when doing a squat. But, if you are able to perform squats with good form, adding weight will intensify the move. Standing straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, slowly lower your body. Move the hips back as if you where going to sit in a chair.  You must try to maintain your weight directly over your feet. Lower yourself to about a 90 degree bend in the knee. Slowly return to a standing position.  

6. Any exercise done wearing the wrong shoes. Even if you're doing everything else right, your efforts can be undermined by improper footwear, warns Saremi. Working out with the wrong shoes increases pounding on the joints, and can lead to injuries like plantar fasciitis or tendinitis, she says.

The key, experts say, is to choose a shoe that is specific to your activity and that suits your particular foot. They recommend shopping at stores specializing in athletic shoes, where you can seek advice from a knowledgeable salesperson. And don't forget to replace your shoes when they show signs of wear.

Exercises That Don't Deliver

Our experts named the following exercises as those that fail to live up to their promises:

7. Exercises done with the goal of spot reduction. People who do strengthening and toning exercises in an effort to trim fat from a certain area – thighs, hips, stomach, or arms – have the wrong idea. While these exercises can help firm muscles, if the targeted area still carries an extra layer of fat, it won't look much different.
"You're making the muscles stronger, but it's not anything you're going to visibly see when you look in the mirror," says Warpeha.

Fat loss cannot be isolated to one area, but is distributed evenly throughout the body, Danberg says. So you'll lose a millimeter of fat from your chin whenever you lose a millimeter of fat from your torso. Doing 1,000 crunches won't take more fat off your abdominals.

Cardiovascular exercise is the biggest calorie burner, but resistance training is a big part of the equation if you want to burn fat.

"When you build more muscle mass, you slowly increase your resting metabolic rate, burning more calories all the hours of the day that you're not active," says Warpeha.

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