5 Exercises I Love to Hate


Whether you love the holiday or hate it, there’s no denying it’s coming… yep, I’m talking about Valentine’s Day.

Personally, I’m pretty indifferent to February 14 festivities. My sugar-obsessed self is more into devouring those tasty candy hearts and seasonal Reese’s peanut butter cups than proclamations of love. And if I get the opportunity to sit down to a romantic meal in which I get to stuff my face with a medium-rare New York strip steak to celebrate the occasion, then I’ll take it!

To commemorate this silly made-up holiday, I decided to compile some of the exercises I love the most. And by love, I mean hate. Like reeaaaally hate.

Any time an instructor announces these are next in rotation, I silently spew insults at them and sometimes not-so-silently groan. I know doing these are for my own good and will make me stronger. But why do they have to cause so much pain? I thought working out was supposed to release endorphins to make you feel good, but the cruel people who invented these exercises thought otherwise.

1. Mountain Climbers

It’s never, ever my idea to throw mountain climbers into a workout. The only time you’ll catch me doing this cursed activity is during a class. Unfortunately for me, mountain climbers seem to be a go-to for every single fitness instructor on the planet, no matter what class format they’re teaching. And since I go to a lot of classes, these are number one of the list because I’m forced to do them often.

Why does the seemingly simple movement of switching my legs back and forth make me feel like I’m going to keel over after just 5 seconds? Mountain climbers make my legs hurt. They make my abs hurt. They make my arms hurt. They make pretty much everything hurt, and then I can’t catch my breath, making my lungs hurt. Mountain climbers are the absolute worst. I’ll even take burpees over mountain climbers.

2. Side Planks

Did I say mountain climbers are the worst? Well I take that back, because side planks are really truly the worst exercise invented. Plus, they take twice as long because you have to do both sides, which just prolongs the pain.

No matter how much time I spend side planking, these don’t get any easier. When you’re feeling confident — like you’ve finally mastered the side plank making it only a teeny bit miserable — the instructor moseys on over and decides to ruin things. They suggest you “challenge yourself” and “take it to the next level” by raising your legs up and down or perhaps holding a dumbbell in your arm throughout the whole plank. What?! No! Why would you make me do that? Isn’t my side already chiseled enough? And why do I need to work out my sides anyway?

Stupid side planks. You should have never been born.

3. Jumping Lunges

I love lunges. I really do. I could seriously lunge all day! Gimme some weights and I’ll lunge with those, too. I particularly enjoy taking my slow sweet time throughout the entire lunging movement to ensure I’ve got the proper form for every single lunge. It’s quality, not quantity, right?

Lunges are easy peasy. But turn up the speed, and things get nasty. After a few jumping lunges, my legs are on fire and the flames just keep coming. It makes no sense, because I could do 40 walking lunges and not feel the teeniest bit of muscle soreness. Yet throw that jump switch in there and the end of the 30-second interval can never come fast enough.

4. Wall Sits

Five seconds go by and I’m feeling fine. Seven seconds, yeah things are still pretty good. Ten seconds… OK, this is starting to get old. And it’s all downhill from there.

By eleven seconds, my vision starts blurring from the pain. When I was a kid at summer camp, they used to have us do these as a time-out punishment. Those counselors were geniuses. Because I never once got in trouble. Why would you when you were threatened with a long, torturous minute of wall sits?

There’s also the wretched first cousin of the wall sit, the squat-and-hold. My legs start shaking and instructor “encourages” the class to squat lower. Ouch.

5. Decline Sit-Ups

As if sit-ups weren’t already horrible enough, someone found a way to make the movement even more painful. For these, you lay back on an incline bench or exercise ball and do essentially what I would call a super sit-up.

By extending the range of motion, the burn starts in your lower abs and moves through to your upper abs as you crunch up. So yeah, each one is a whole bunch of prolonged awfulness. After just one of these, my entire torso is jelly. But you’re never allowed to do just one. And since this misery-inducing exercise jabs knives of pain throughout every single stomach muscle (even those you didn’t know you had), these take for-ev-er.

I love to hate these exercises and wish they did not exist. There’s only one thing worse. Which would be having to do all of them in one workout. I hope none of the CAC instructors are reading this…

Check out your club’s group fitness schedule and cross your fingers your next class does not involve mountain climbers.

Photo credit: Candy Hearts: Love by Brent Moore via Flickr