#1 – Anything in the Smith Machine. That goes for squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead press,… Just don’t do it. When I was in high school, people only worked out on the Universal Gym machines. Football players would lift the whole stack for every lift. It was a huge ego booster for them. While little ole me worked out at home with barbells and dumbbells. Believe me, the real world, functional strength you get from balancing a bar is unmatched. I would put a light weight (135#) on the bench and one of our heavyweight wrestlers on our team couldn’t lift it. He only worked machines. Another strong friend came over to my house and tried to bench with a bar and it ended up crashing on his hips. He couldn’t balance it. And, our bodies never move linearly. There is always a natural curve when you are squatting or pressing. You need to let your body move naturally in movements. The Smith Machines in the world should be melted down and turned into real barbells.
#2 – Hip Thrusters. Yes, I think this is a valuable exercise. If the Rock Johnson is doing them, then shouldn’t everybody? My rule is when you see some tiny thing (man or woman) loading 315+ pounds on a bar and does it for 10-12 reps, then its probably ego-driven and totally for show. The times I’ve done this exercise, I paid a huge price in my groin. No amount of pads every removed the intense pain on my giblets. If you ever study kinesiology (aka body mechanics), you realize extension at the hip isn’t magic. You can make the same shape with squats, deadlifts, hypers, etc… without the pain and stupid setup. Add a heavy flex circle band around your knees in squats and you’ll add mass to your gluteus medius and minimus. Believe me, you don’t need this movement even if its amazing.
#3 – Leg Press Machine. When I was a 20-something scoutin for chicks at the gym, the leg press machine was my go-to device to impress everyone. I think that’s actually its only purpose. To drive big egos. I’d load 900# on it (10x 45# plates on each side) and make sure they clanked really loudly so everyone would look my way. A nice scream would alert everyone I was doing it too. It gave me lots of gym cred. But I also think its one thing that killed my lumbar spine. Since my hamstrings weren’t super flexible, I slightly tucked my hip under to lessen the hamstring load. Then all the pressure was directed at L4-L5. After one such behemoth lift, I pretty much couldn’t stand up or walk out of the gym. Squats and deadlifts are much better exercises to show real strength. I know little thangs who lift heavy on the leg press but can’t squat their bodyweight. Also, full range of motion isn’t possible with the leg press. It would look like a quarter squat standing with a barbell. Its really not worth it. All it gives you is a big head!