Welcome to that time of the year: when swarms of self-professed out-of-shape people vow to get swole or simply in better shape (or even more simply, less bad shape), which means gyms nationwide are flooded with new membership and false promises of a societally structural body packaged under the banner of health and wellness. It’s okay to be fit! It’s nice to feel like you can wrestle Ruth Bader Ginsburg on a good day and win. (I think I could.) A good workout should supply the appropriate dose of endorphins needed to run the machine that is your body, a labyrinth of ligaments, muscles, skeleton, and blood. But if I’m being honest, some exercise moves are stupid. Some of them just are, and people agree.
As I cue up an at-home workout video, I inevitably come to a point where I’m like, “Get out of here with that.” Or, “Is this feasible?” I love a challenge as much as the next physically inept person—in fact, I’ve grown to enjoy burpees and mountain climbers after an initial phase of disgust with them, similar to barre class. But come on let’s be reasonable here.
Most of the stupidest exercise moves involve jumping. And I’m talking about the ones that don’t include equipment. I’ve successfully completed a tuck jump—a high-knee jump that requires a great deal of momentum, which I rarely have—maybe twice in life. Same with the donkey kick, which is when you get down on all fours—yes, donkey style—and try to kick your hind legs up without falling on your head. Again, like a donkey. The instructor in the video will say, “Donkey kicks for 30 seconds!” I will say, “No,” and instead do some variation like jumping in place, which is a great workout. (That’s why jumping jacks are the best.)
Here’s a ranking of the stupidest exercise moves, the criteria of which are completely up to me, but part of the reasoning is: I don’t like doing them. Before you say, “The stupidest exercise move is no exercise,” I already thought of that. These are listed in order from most to least stupid.
1. Two-leg donkey kicks
2. Tuck jumps
3. Box jumps
4. Turkish get-up / Any get-up move
5. The Barre move where you pulse one leg up behind you
7. Plank with shoulder taps (The instructor tells you not to swivel your hips while you do it, but the instructor is almost always swiveling.)
8. Pistol squats
9. Long jumps
10. Regular push-ups