5 Must-Do Exercises To Add To Your Workout
If you’re looking to break the monotony of doing the exact same four to five exercises every time you pump some iron then you’ve come to the right place. This article will take explain in-depth how to perform five exceptional exercises you’ve probably never done. Many gym-goers and fitness enthusiasts alike find themselves stuck in the rut of performing the same monotonous routine over and over again. Much of this monotony stems from lack of exercise variety and education on what other movements are effective for their goals. Therefore, this article will take a look at five exercises you’ve probably never done that are suitable for most any gym trainee; if you’re looking to break the monotony of doing the exact same four to five exercises every time you pump some iron then you’ve come to the right place.
Before we move on, do note that these exercises will likely seem very challenging when you first perform them, so don’t try and be Wonder Women and lift enormous amounts of weight. Err on the side of caution and go lighter rather than too heavy; nailing the technique is key to maximizing muscle recruitment in all of these movements.
Chest-Supported Dumbbell Rows
These are a great way to develop mid to upper back strength and they are much easier on the spine than regular dumbbell and barbell rows. Better yet, these require diligent attention to form and remove your ability to cheat the way up, as many people do with dumbbell rows, since your body is held static and there is little momentum involved.
• Adjust a freestanding bench to about a 45 degree incline (adjust based on the length of your arms)
• With a pair of dumbbells on the floor under the bench, face the bench and lean on it with your chest touching where your head would normally be if you were doing DB presses
• Reach down and pick up the dumbbells as you lean pronated on the bench
• While keeping your elbows close to your sides pull the DBs up towards your midsection; make sure to squeeze your lats at the top of the motion
• Slowly lower the weights back to the starting position; this completes one repetition
Glute-ham raises are one of the most effective exercises for developing the posterior chain muscles (spinal erectors, hamstrings, calves, glutes). Don’t underestimate these, as many people can’t even complete one rep using just their body weight. If you have a GHR machine in your gym then you’re in luck!
Execution (on GHR machine):
• On a GHR machine, mount the apparatus so you’re facing away from the foot/heel pads (i.e. your face will be looking at the ground at the bottom of the movement)
• With your feet on the platform (and ankles pressing against the rollers) and thighs resting against the leg pads, slowly lower yourself by extending your hamstrings until your body is about parallel with the floor
• Now explode back up the to the starting position by contracting your glutes and hamstrings, this completes one rep
• NOTE: If you cannot do a rep with your bodyweight, use a partner to help assist you. You may also use an inflatable exercise ball to help push off of on the concentric portion of the movement
Alternative Execution (without GHR machine):
• Setup much like you would on a GHR machine, but while kneeling on a floor mat.
• Have a partner/gym buddy hold your heels down, similarly to how the rollers of GHR do.
• Execute the repetition in the same fashion as noted above
Barbell Overhead Squats
These are arguably the most challenging squat variation you can perform as they require a strong core and lower body, as well as strong delts and traps. You may need to play around with your stance on these and find the right foot width; start by taking a stance with your feet about shoulder width apart.
• With an Olympic bar, setup like you would for doing overhead military presses in a squat rack. Note to take a wide grip; your hands should be near the end of the collars on the bar.
• Un-rack the bar and take 2-3 steps backward, lining your feet up much like you’re about to perform a regular back squat.
• Now get set into position by pressing the bar overhead and holding it directly over the mid-line of your body.
• Begin the movement by lowering yourself until your hips break parallel with the top of your knee, while holding the bar static over your head/mid-line of the body.
• Once you are completely lowered, explode off the heels back to a standing position, with the bar still overhead; this completes one repetition.
• NOTE: This is arguably the most technical lift in this article and will take a significant amount of practice to master. Be patient and consistent!
The floor press is an excellent variation of regular bench presses, performed while lying supine on the floor (hence the name floor press). This exercise is a great alternative from usual chest and tricep exercises like dips, flyes/pec deck, push-downs, etc…
Execution (can be performed with barbell or dumbbells):
• Begin by lying on the floor supine in a power rack with the safety pins removed and the bar holders placed about knee level
• Your neck should be about parallel to where the bar is, similar to how you would setup on a normal bench press
• Take a slightly wider grip than you would on normal bench presses and adjust as needed
• Lay your legs flat out along the floor, this forces you to keep your glutes on the ground so you can’t “cheat” the weight up
• Tighten your shoulder blades and press the bar out of the rack similar to how you would begin a normal bench press
• Lower the bar until your elbows touch the floor, pause for a moment, and press the weight back up to the starting position
DB Six-Ways Laterals
It seems like the exercise selection for working the deltoids is rather minimal, so these are a great movement to add some variety to your shoulder training. Beware these are quite a bit more challenging than usual dumbbell side laterals. The movement consists of 6 different motions, all targeting the deltoids (mostly the anterior and medial heads).
Execution (can be done seated or standing):
• With each hand holding a dumbbell setup in position like you would be if you were performing typical DB side laterals (your hands should be pronated throughout the entire movement). The first movement is identical to a side lateral, but once you complete that motion keep the dumbbells static in the top position (i.e. your arms should be straight out to your sides). Now bring your arms so they are straight out in front of you and again keep the dumbbells static in this top position; this completes the second motion
• Now elevate your arms so they point straight up towards the ceiling, and hold at the top; this completes the third motion
• Now to complete the next three movements, you simply reverse the first three motions you just performed
• Once all six motions have been performed and the DBs are back in the starting position, you have completed one repetition.
Hopefully by incorporating these movements into your routine you’ll find some new pep in your gym routine. Better yet, these movements will make you stronger all over and help you shape your entire body. If you’re unsure of how to perform any of these exercises don’t be afraid to look for visual demonstrations on the Internet. Safety and proper technique is key when doing these movements.