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Every gym has them. Useless exercise machines, which promise so much ... and deliver so little. Gym goers everywhere can be found using these machines daily, thinking they're targeting their love handles, muffin top, or saddlebags. Sadly, the human body just doesn't work this way. You can do exercises for your outer thighs until you collapse, but the only thing that's going to reduce fat in that area is eating a moderate diet, strength training all the muscles in your body, and regular cardio.
Even looking past the cold, hard fact that you can't spot reduce fat, you may not even be working the muscles you think you are!
Check out this slideshow that reveals the 5 most useless gym exercise machines and what exercises you can be doing instead!
Image via Carly Pizzani
A friend of mine who sold gym memberships used to cheekily refer to the abduction and adduction machines as the "yes/no" machines. She told me they were the number one thing women asked to see on a tour of the gym. But trainers know they are among the least effective machines on the gym floor.
The Hip Abduction Machine (aka the "outer thigh" machine) is just not functional -- you aren't going to need to push a heavy weight away with your outer thigh when sitting down. Also, because of the seated position, what's doing a lot of the work in this exercise is the piriformis, a small, deep muscle that sits right on top of your sciatic nerve. If this muscle gets overdeveloped, you could experience a lot of pain as a result. Also being strengthened and tightened is the connective tissue in your outer thigh called the Iliotibial (IT) Band. This is usually already tight in most people, and the tighter it gets, the more likely you are to experience sharp pain on the outside of your knees.
What to do instead: Lateral lunges or lateral step-ups are great for strengthening the muscles on the outside of your hip and thigh. Bonus: you'll be utilizing more muscles overall simply by being in a standing position.