The Most Overrated Equipment in the Gym

STACK Expert Joe Batista discusses 6 pieces of gym equipment that are overrated. Use them sparingly.

Taking in all the workout equipment at the gym can make your head spin. So many choices, not all of which are especially useful. To help you make the most of your gym time, I've put together a list of the most overrated pieces of gym equipment. Use them in moderation and you'll have more time to spend on the most underrated gym equipment.


The ever-popular treadmill actually does not bring much value to your workout. Many people use it to warm up, but there is no way a treadmill can fully prepare your body for a workout. It's limited by only going in one direction and working the legs in a small range of motion. A dynamic warm-up targeting big muscle groups gives your muscles much better preparation.

And if you think running on a treadmill for an hour a day will burn off unwanted body fat, try some HIIT training instead. You will get much better results in much less time.

Leg Press

Many people get excited about the leg press machine, because you can stack a lot of weight on it and the Leg Press is easier to do than a Squat. However, the Leg Press is not a Squat and it should not replace squatting in your training program. Because your hips don't move in a leg press machine, all the force must be pushed through the knees, placing excessive stress on the joint, which can lead to injury. For a better choice of leg exercises, do Squats, Deadlifts and variations of the two.

Leg Extension

This machine has already been covered in depth, but another factor for athletes to consider is the movement that it uses to work the quadriceps. The hips are fixed, the only movement is around the knee, and it's a movement that doesn't occur in sports. Athletes should choose a more functional exercise.

Resisted Ab Crunch Machine

Everyone wants to work their abs, and most want to use machines—they seem like an easy fix. The problem is that we now know the abdominal muscles get much better activation when you do isometric exercises like Planks, Bridges and Bird-Dogs. You cannot do those exercises on a machine, so grab a mat and get down on the floor to build your abdominal muscles. If you feel the need to use equipment for ab exercises, try some Anti-Rotation Side Pulls, Landmine Rotations and Wood Chops. They will build stronger, more functional abs than a crunch machine will.

Seated Chest Press Machine

The chest press machine isolates the pectoralis major and minor muscles, but it does so with a fixed, guided motion that is not a functional movement. Also, the tracked movement limits any stabilization muscles to assist in the exercise. Better exercises for the chest include Push-Ups and Chest Press variations with bars or dumbbells, which require stabilization to complete.

Weight Belts

Athletes who wants to improve themselves in the gym do not wear a belt. The idea behind weight belts is that they protect your lower back (lumbar spine) and force you to maintain proper form during lifts by restricting movement where there should be none. However, this is achieved at a cost—the failure to  activate critical stabilization muscles that you need for your sport. Belts can let you cheat out of learning correct form for Squats and Deadlifts by limiting lower-back movement, as opposed to athletes who know how to move correctly. Using a belt for absolute maximum heavy lifting on Squats and Deadlifts may help prevent injury, but you should not use a belt every day.

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