Here are eight exercises you've probably never tried. In fact, you probably won't try them even after you read this. Why? 'Cause you're a sissy, scared to try something new! Oh Lordy, what if someone in the gym looks at you funny for performing these exercises?! Why, your 'lil ego might not be able to take such scrutiny!
Come on, ya big girl, don't you have the nads to try something different? Afraid you'll get your fluffy pink dress all dirty? Afraid to get your ruffled panties all sweaty?
Oh, what's the matter? Gonna cry now? Big baby wanna bottle? Big baby need his poopy changed? Big baby want his mama? Sissy! Girl! Baby! Muscle & Fitness reader!
(There, that should get a few more folks to try these great new exercises!)
If you've been reading T-mag for any length of time, you know that to fully train the back you need to perform both vertical pulling movements (pull-ups and pulldowns) and horizontal pulling exercises (row variations). Leave out one or the other and you'll always have an "incomplete" back and possibly even set yourself up for imbalance injuries.
When it comes to horizontal pulling movements, you have two free weight choices: two-handed barbell rows and one-arm dumbbell rows. Well, now you have a third option: the one-arm barbell row. This variation provides a slightly different line of pull and will add some variety to your training.
Grab a barbell and stack it with plates, but none larger than 25's. (Larger plates may impede your range of motion.) Get into a normal one-arm row position with one hand on a bench. (One knee on the bench is also an option.) Now simply perform a one-arm row using the barbell. Bring the bar up, pause for one second at the top, and then lower it under control to the starting position.
T-mag has written about this strongman favorite several times before. It's a great exercise for overall conditioning and it really targets the traps as well. To perform the farmer's walk, simply grab two heavy dumbbells and take a stroll. You can go for distance or see how fast you can walk a pre-determined path.
The problem is that even the biggest Muscle Media readin' wussy can use 100-pound dumbbells, and many gyms don't go much heavier than that. To skirt this problem, just grab two trap bars, load them up, and hold on to one side of each bar. Now you can go as heavy as you want without being limited by the dumbbells in your gym.
Note: Sorry, this may not work for really short guys.
Here's a painful little gem we picked up from contributor Coach Christian Thibaudeau. A Siffie is identical to a regular lunge, save for one important exception: you stay on your toes the entire time. At no point during the set are your heels to touch the ground. You can use dumbbells or a barbell. This is a great lower body exercise that really targets the calves.
This exercise is actually called a straddle split squat. It's really only a "ball buster" if you do it wrong or the weight slips off one end!
Straddle a bar in a static lunge position. Keep your head upright and your back straight. Now lower your knee almost to the ground, pause, and come back up. Repeat for the desired number of reps and then do the other leg.
We picked up this one from Coach Davies. It's simple, effective, brutally hard, and scares personal trainers, which is our favorite part.
Press a weight above your head, maintain good posture, and walk slowly for five minutes.
Start with a weight light enough that you could walk around with it for eight minutes, but only walk around with it for five (that equates to roughly 60% of your maximum load). Gradually build up time using an undulating wave pattern. In other words, don't try to beat your previous performance each time. Instead, follow a five-minute walk with a three-minute walk, followed by a five-and-a-half minute walk.
Here's another unique row variation, this one from the Ice Dog himself, Coach Thibaudeau.
This exercise is very good at developing the lats. The objective is to bring the arm up and back while keeping it relatively straight. Really concentrate on your lats while doing this drill. Don't use a lot of weight as it's not needed to get the most out of this exercise. It's more important to focus on maintaining maximum back tension during every inch of every rep.
This is perhaps the most wicked pull-up variation out there. You have to be pretty damn advanced to do this one!
Grasp a chin-up bar with a slightly wider than shoulder width, semi-supinated (parallel) grip. One of those V-shaped bars will work fine. Begin at the bottom, stretched position. First, forcibly pull together and separate the shoulder blades for one second each. Next, perform the concentric (pulling) portion of a traditional pull-up, but strive to touch the sternum to the V-shaped handle. Force the elbows down and back as your chest touches the bar. Perform a static hold at the elbow flexed, top position.
Rack lockouts are partial reps in the close-grip bench press. Because you're using a close-grip, you'll strongly recruit the triceps. Furthermore, the highest recruitment of the triceps occurs at the end of the range of motion in the bench press movement. To take advantage of this extra degree of recruitment, you can use a power rack to limit your range of motion, which will also allow you to use a greater amount of weight than if you were doing full range of motion bench presses.
We recommend using the "stops" in a power rack to shorten your range of motion. In other words, place the stops several inches above your chest so that your range of motion is only one-third to one-fourth of what it would normally be. You should also pause at the bottom of the movement (the point at which the bar hits the stops) so that you can't use the elastic component of the muscle.
Your triceps will scream, then grow like weeds!
Try at least a couple of these on your next visit to the gym and we'll take back all that nasty stuff we said in the intro, especially that Muscle & Fitness comment. That was harsh.