Most hated exercises headerThe holiday season is often here and gone in a flash. Just as soon as peppermint lattes and twinkling lights make their first appearances, you’re counting down to the new year – and possibly thinking about New Year’s resolutions. 

Among the most popular goals are losing weight and eating healthier. But no matter how committed you feel at the start of the year, the odds aren’t exactly in your favor. Research shows less than 1 in 10 people will meet their New Year’s resolution goals.

So, what’s holding them back? It could be that exercising can be a total drag. For a closer inspection at the gym activities people enjoy least, we surveyed 1,000 people who worked out weekly. Read on to learn which workouts men and women hate, how long it takes these exercises to feel easier, and which workouts they’d rather do instead. 

Hard Pass

If you and the gym have a history of not always getting along, finding the motivation to work out might be even harder. According to one study, every time we start exercising after a prolonged break, our bodies enjoy the experience less. And, of course, the less fun you’re having, the less inclined you are to keep active. 

Exercises we love and hate infographic

According to our survey, men (48%) and women (63%) agreed on the exercise they hated the most: burpees. Despite the benefits of this all-over exercise (not to mention a solid helping of cardio), there’s nothing most people would rather do less while they’re working out. For men, weighted squats (44%), running on the treadmill (36%), and ab crunches (34%) also were among their least favorite options for breaking a sweat. Meanwhile, women most disliked pushups (46%), mountain climbers (33%), and jumping lunges (33%). 

So, what do we like doing at the gym? Bicycling outside for men (63%) and swimming for women (72%). 

Getting Comfortable 

It can take weeks (and sometimes months) of doing the same thing repeatedly before it begins to feel natural, and exercising isn’t always as easy as rolling out of bed and showing up at the gym. 

Number of workouts before exercise feels easier infographic

For women, dreaded burpees took over 20 sessions before they started to feel easy, followed by nearly as many workouts for the chest fly and inverted rowing. Men struggled more to feel comfortable with mountain climbers (almost 23 sessions), followed by ab leg raises and stair climbers (20 sessions each). Even people who considered themselves moderately to very fit still struggled with certain exercises, led by the chest fly (29 sessions, on average) and burpees (23 sessions). 

If you want to start with something a little easier, women acknowledged needing fewer than six sessions to feel good about their weighted lateral raises, followed by kettlebell swings, chest rows (seven sessions each). And men only needed four sessions of weighted rear delt rows and less than five sessions for ab woodchops. 

One and Done

If you really want to make your resolution stick, your best bet might be to stick with exercises you find most enjoyable. In fact, 15% of men and women would pick outdoor running if they could only do one exercise for the rest of their life. Men also would choose pushups (9%) and swimming (8%) if they had to commit to just one workout forever. 

Exercises we cannot live without infographic

In addition to running outside, women would stick with running on a treadmill (11%) and indoor cycling (10%). Meanwhile, people who considered themselves moderately to very physically fit had a similar perspective on running outside (18%), followed by swimming and outdoor cycling (7% each). 

No Pain, No Gain

Fifty-seven percent of women agreed workouts should be difficult compared to 72% of men. And around 40% of all respondents, regardless of fitness level, agreed that if you’re not sore after working out, you aren’t making any gains. 

Attitudes toward exercising infographic

“No pain, no gain” suggests that if you aren’t sore after working out, you aren’t accomplishing anything. However, that’s somewhat false. You might feel sore if you’re exercising new muscles, but feeling more energized and improved mood are also signs that your workout routine is working. 

Finding Your Rhythm 

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to working out. While most people preferred to avoid burpees, men and women mostly differed on the exercises they enjoyed and disliked. However, some exercises had high approval ratings overall.

In fact, cardio workouts, including swimming and elliptical sessions, ranked high on the list of essential exercises. But while respondents approved of these options, it’s not always easy to choose a piece of equipment for your fitness needs. 

At, we compare brands and prices so you can find the right equipment for your fitness goals. Whatever your immediate exercise needs are, is your elliptical resource. 

Methodology and Limitations

We surveyed 1,000 people who work out to explore what the most hated exercises are. Survey respondents consisted of 46% male and 54% female. Ages ranged from 18 to 79 with a mean age of 38 and a standard deviation of 12 years. We did not have a validated measure of physical fitness, so we created one using a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “not at all physically fit” and 5 being “very physically fit.” We eliminated exercises that did not have 100 respondents or more who reported incorporating each exercise into their routine. We did not statistically test our hypotheses or weight our data. This is a purely exploratory look at which exercises people hate the most.

Fair Use Statement

Want to share these findings with your audience? Don’t sweat it. Our survey is available for any noncommercial distribution with the inclusion of a link back to this page as credit to our team of contributors and creatives.