I hate to start off the week on a sour note, but you're lookin' a little small.
Now, before you trade in your gym membership for Tuesday night knitting with Betty, try these sweet and simple exercises to fill out your frame.
Some are new and others not-so-new (try over 100 years old), but the more tools you have in your toolbox, the more ways you have to get the job done.
The Posterior Chain Blaster (AKA The Gunthar Row)
This first exercise works the whole posterior chain hard. The hamstrings, lower back, glutes, and upper back all receive a powerful stimulation. As the saying goes, "An athlete is only as strong as the back of his body." So, this movement is extremely effective at improving athletic performance, posture, and strength in movements such as the deadlift and the Olympic lifts.
Hell, it used to be a staple in the training of the former shot put world record holder, Werner Gunthar, who could power clean over 450 pounds as if the bar was empty and jump hurdles like an antelope!
Basically, the movement consists of performing a back extension, and at the top of the movement, rowing a barbell or dumbbells.
As you can see, Gunthar was kinda short on material. Nowadays, we have solid back extension benches, so you won't have to have Mario hold down your ankles (apologies to his former coach, Jan-Pierre Egger)!
While a barbell can still be used, I do prefer to use dumbbells.
You can even perform the movement unilaterally to work on trunk stabilization at the same time. In which case, the key point is to avoid trunk rotation at all costs.
This exercise is best performed for higher reps, anywhere between 8 and 20 is adequate, although I generally recommend sticking to the 8 to 12 rep range.
Old-School Floor Pullover Press
This muscle builder of yesteryear was once seen building up physiques from the early 1900s all the way to the '60s. However, they started doing it on a bench instead of the floor around the '50s.
Personally, I much prefer the floor version, as it's both safer and more effective. I've seen a ton of shoulder injuries caused by stretching excessively at the bottom portion of a pullover, but since the floor version doesn't allow for that type of range of motion, it's pretty much risk-free.
The exercise is performed in two steps: First comes the pullover phase, followed by the close-grip pressing phase.
Pullover phase: Start with the barbell on the floor, over your head, with your elbows bent at around 110 to 135 degrees. The elbows should be close and pointing toward the ceiling.
Without changing the elbow angle, lift the barbell off the floor, and in a circular manner, bring your elbows to your sides until they touch the floor.
At the end of the pullover phase, you're basically in the starting position of a floor close-grip bench press.
Pressing phase: Picking up where the pullover phase left off, your elbows should be on the floor, tucked in close to your body. Pause on the floor for one or two seconds, and then press the weight up as in a close-grip bench press.
Once you reach the top of the pressing position (arms straight), re-bend your elbows slightly and lower the barbell back to the starting position of the pullover phase (bar on the floor, above your head).
This will give your lats, triceps, and chest an old-school beating. It's also a good movement for shoulder health, making it a rather complete and interesting exercise to use.
Sets of 12 to 15 reps are best; although some more experienced lifters will fare better doing sets of 8 to 12. Don't go lower than 8 reps, though!
Tsuki Dumbbell Press
These next two exercises – the Tsuki dumbbell press and the Tsuki incline dumbbell press – are great assistance exercises for chest growth, as the internal rotation component of the movement increases pectoral activation.
As such, I often prefer to use a variation of the Tsuki press instead of a fly as the last pectoral exercise in a session. It's just as good at focusing on the chest, but since you can load it a bit more, it's all the more effective, especially as a change of pace.
These movements are performed by taking a supinated grip in the starting position and holding the dumbbells along the low pec line. This will give you a greater pectoral stretch, and a stretched muscle is a recruited muscle.
Press the dumbbells while rotating them so that at the completion of the press you're using a pronated grip.
Sets in the 6 to 8 or 8 to 12 rep ranges are the norm.
Cobra Lat Pull-Down
As we just saw, when you stretch a muscle you increase its activation potential. So, this exercise is a very good one for those who have problems activating and stimulating the lats.
Lie down sideways on an incline bench (around 45 degrees). Grab a single handle attached to a high pulley, making sure that you fully stretch the lat at the top of the movement. Now, pull the weight so that your elbow is moving toward your hip area. Squeeze the peak contraction and return to the stretched position.
This is a perfect finisher for the lats, so add sets of 10 to 12 slow and controlled reps to the end of your back workout.
Thankfully, with these new ways to torture yourself, that knitting class will be one member short.
Now, get your ass to the gym and make the best use of these tools to unlock some new growth in those stubborn muscle groups of yours.