The Most Ineffective Exercises For Arms And Chest

Today is Monday a.k.a. international arm and chest day which makes it a perfect time to remind people which are the most ineffective exercises one can do for the arms and the chest.

Believe it or not there at least 10 times more mainstream exercises for your chest and arms than there are for any other muscle group. People just love training those body parts. Nothing wrong with it, I guess. After all, nobody on this Earth is perfect. We are all sinners. We are all slaves to the cube in which the main governor is time.

image via: feesfitness.com;

image via: feesfitness.com;

1.Chest flys


This exercise is done quite often in the gym with various equipment – dumbbells, barbell plates, machines, water bottles, protein shakers, without weight…

There are all kinds of flys versions and most of them such for building muscle mass. It’s a fine movement to do as a warm-up but it sucks as a true power exercise. Chest flys can never be done safely with a heavy weight. Sure, there maybe some chest maniacs like Scooby Werkstatt who are able to move a lot of weight on this exercise but in the long term it will never be a safe movement. The stretch is too much and the pectoral tendons and the shoulder are in a vulnerable position. One of the fastest ways to tear a pec is to do heavy chest flys to failure.

2.Barbell curls

It’s about time people realize that barbell curls suck for biceps. First, they place too much stress on the wrist and elbows because the joints are forced in a specific position and second – the stronger arm does more work.

Most people don’t have the flexibility, nor the joint resilience to handle straight bar barbell curls for a long time. Sooner or later a joint {usually the wrist} starts hurting. The way to fix that would be to do curls with dumbbells which allow the body to find a pain free pattern. Of course, you can also use the EZ curl bar, but for some it does not fix the problem. Dumbbell curls remain the most joint friendly exercise.

3.Chest machines

Chest machines may give you a great pump, but they truly suck. They require the lifter to do the exercise in a specific pattern and often there’s not enough control over the exercise. Some machines may be fine for some people but most chest machinery has super anti-joint position. A good example would be the Smith Machine which many bodybuilders use to isolate the pecs as they say.

The smith machine requires one to bench press in a straight line while the natural bench press movement is an arch. Watch any good bencher bench and you will see that they never press in a straight line. It’s just too dangerous for the shoulders and you lose triceps strength.

Note: Some hammer strength machines are well designed and could make up for a fine exercise.

4.All Kinds Of Cable Curls Suck

There are about 100 different cable curls and all of them suck for the most part. People are doing them just to look cool. There are many old school trainers who used to recommend all kinds of the cable curls to build up the bicep peak and what not, but it’s about time we get out of the stone age and realize that you don’t really have that much control over your body, and it’s extremely hard to isolate specific parts of a muscle group.

The cable curls don’t offer much benefit over free weights at all. It may be wise to use dumbbells instead of waiting in line for the cable stations while the chemists are pumping up their biceps and flexing in front of the mirror.

5.Vince Gironda’s dips and neck press

Vince Gironda is one of the most popular bodybuilding trainers and yet he popularized two exercises that will destroy your shoulders – the neck press and Gironda dips. Both exercises are meant to fully load the chest, which they do, but place an extreme stress on the shoulder joint. Some may handle them, but most would be in pain. You can build just as much mass, if not more using the regular version of the exercises. Truth be told, those two movements are a little gimmicky.

6.Regular triceps skullcrushers

99% of the population that does triceps skullcrushers experiences elbow pain. That’s because skullcrushers are an open chain exercise which places a lot of stress on the elbow joint. It’s wise to never do this exercise. You can replace it with the PJR pull-over which also places a large emphasis on the triceps and namely the long head. If you do it correctly, you will feel a great triceps pump and no elbow pain at all.

In the video below you can see what PJR pull-overs actually are:

7.Cable cross-overs

Similar to the chest fly the cable cross-overs are a super stupid exercise. A long time ago in an article written by a bodybuilder on a lot of gear it was said that cable cross-overs will give your chest striations which is ridiculous. Striations depend on genetics, muscle mass levels and low body fat.

The cable cross-over also places too much stress on the shoulders and is not a mass building exercise. It’s only good as maybe a warm-up, but even then it’s not the best. Overall, fuck cable cross over. Gimmick.

8.Zottman curls

Zottman curls are supposed to build up you forearm extensors, but quite honestly they are a waste of time and do nothing more than overtrain your forearm extensors. On the way up you are able to lift a lot of weight because your palms are facing upwards and you are more dependent on the powerful wrist flexors. On the way down, however, the forearm extensors are holding the weight. This means that the negative portion of the exercise is overloading this weak portion of the forearm.

A better exercise to do is the regular reverse wrist curl which requires you to actually use a weight that your forearms extensors can handle on the way up. The heavy negatives done with the Zottman curls are just too much for the small and weak forearm extensors.

9.Scott Curls are a joke

The scott curl is a popular biceps exercises popularized by the first Mr. Olympia Larry Scoot. Larry had great biceps, but this exercise sucks. It supposedly targets the lower portion of the biceps, but this is all broscience. You can’t isolate the lower portion of your biceps. On top of everything most people never do Scott curls correctly. They use too much weight and not enough range of motion.

At the same time at the bottom of the movement there’s too much stress on the bicep tendon and it’s not uncommon to snap it. It’s better to do standing or incline dumbbell curls than this gimmicky exercise.

10.One arm overhead dumbbell extensions

There are many popular bodybuilders who do the one arm overhead dumbbell extension for their triceps, but it’s still a sucky exercise. It kills your triceps tendons and most will end up in pain. It could feel fine doing it with two hands, but we recommend that you switch to PJR pull-overs which target the long head of the triceps even more than this movement.

11.The Decline Bench Press

The decline bench press is a stupid movement in general. It’s hard to get into position and the whole time there’s blood going into your brain. During extensive effort this exercise may cause a blood vessel rupture in the eye from all the pressure and strain. It’s better to do regular dips which are much more brain safe.

5 comments

  1. Paul

    Over the years the chest flys and bench press built my good pecs. Mass and strenght, especialy the last. In fact, I love chest flys and I’m very good at them. For me is the single movement that feels my whole pecs works. I easily work with over 110 lbs a dumbell.

    Same with the barbell curls if I do with the EZ bar. Same with skullcrushers. Works very fine for me with EZ bar and I feel the whole triceps working. I do Scott curls with one hand. Works very good for me. Good isolation, no cheating, very good results for my biceps over the years.

    Regarding neck press, for me it’s a good isolation exercise, with easy loads, because I don’t feel so much triceps working compare to front pressing.

  2. Steve

    Do what works for you especially if you have the time and patience to experiment.
    These are probably right however better than doing NOTHING at the same time.

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