You've probably heard this old saying:
"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."
Well, that's also the definition of a "hardgainer" when it comes to bodybuilding. How many people are frustrated with their progress in the gym, yet keep on doing the same boring exercises and training programs?
Don't do that! Instead, replace some of your usual exercises with the ones below. Shake things up and start making progress again!
Power Upright Rowing
T-Nation contributor Christian Thibaudeau learned from his Olympic lifting background that using momentum to power up a heavy load isn't always "cheating." Sometimes, it can even lead to new muscle gains.
The power upright row is a good example. This is essentially a cheated upright row because you use your legs to start the lift. The extra weight will really help you stimulate the traps and delts.
There's one catch though: to really make this movement effective, you need to hold the end or top position for about two seconds while flexing your shoulders and traps as hard as possible.
Try it in place of regular upright rows or shrugs this week!
The One-Arm Bench Press
Oh sure, you've tried dumbbell bench presses, barbell presses, and even incline and decline presses, but have you ever done them unilaterally - one side at a time?
Sure, it's awkward and places a unique stress on your body, but that's the whole idea! Try three sets of one-arm presses for each side instead of your usual bench press.
Just don't fall off the bench. Girls will giggle.
The Side Lunge
Here's a great lower body exercise you probably haven't tried before. Perform a side lunge by stepping to the side as far as possible with one leg, then bending the knee until the upper thigh is almost parallel to the floor. Keep the opposite leg as straight as you can.
To finish the exercise, thrust off the bent leg and come back to the starting position. You can alternate sides each rep or do a full set for each side independently. Try it with a barbell if you're feeling spunky.
If you're as studly as contributor Don Alessi is in this pic, be sure to remove your shirt before performing.
Low Pulley Swiss Ball Crunch
The Swiss ball is great for ab work because it allows you to get a full range of motion (ROM), something you can't get from regular crunches performed on the floor. And since the abs are made up of mostly fast-twitch fibers, they respond best to heavy resistance and, consequently, low reps.
The low pulley Swiss ball crunch (first introduced to T-Nation by Joe DeFranco) allows you to add resistance through the full range of motion.
Use a rope handle and remember to go heavy. If you're accustomed to doing dozens of crunches on the floor, start with four sets of six heavy reps on this exercise.
If you're so sore it hurts to digest food the next day, don't say we didn't warn you!
The "No Partner" Assisted Pull-Up
This little trick is great for newbies, women, and heavy guys who need a little assistance in the pull-up. If you don't have a partner to give you a little boost, grab a resistance band or some resistance tubing used by the cardio queens.
Slip one knee into the loop and hold the top of the band with both hands. Now, with your knee still in the loop, reach up and grab the bar. The band will be stretched between your hands and your grip will hold it in place.
The band will act as your "training partner," giving you just enough help to knock out a few extra reps.
This is a classic ab training exercise often used by boxers. Lie on the ground and get someone to stand over your head with his feet on either side of your ears. If it's a female, take this opportunity to look up her shorts.
Now, grab his or her ankles and with your legs together, lift them towards your partner. Your partner should grab your ankles, pause for a moment, then rapidly "throw" your legs away from him. Resist the throw and try not to let your heels touch the ground (they should get close though.)
Fire your legs back towards your partner and continue for the desired number of reps. If you're a glutton for punishment, ask your partner to vary the angle of the throw without warning. If you're a real glutton for punishment, wear leather shorts and a ball gag and have your partner whip you.
Deadman Quad Raises
Think you can't set those quads on fire without squatting a gymful of plates? Well, you can with this exercise!
Start on your knees with the trunk upright and in line with the upper legs. During the whole movement the trunk and upper thighs must be kept on the same line; this is the key to the effectiveness of this drill.
Lower yourself back under control while remembering to keep your trunk in line with the upper legs during the whole movement. Lower yourself as low as possible, then come back up to the starting position by tensing your quads hard.
If your abs are a cute as the model's in this pic, prepare to accept a standing ovation upon completion of each set.
Seven new exercises to help you keep your sanity in the gym. Try them out soon and let us know what you think!