7 Amazing & Obscure Exercises You Must Try Today
With this approach, you naturally gravitate to the classic lifts. The squat, press and deadlift become the foundation of your training.
For a good while, you're focused and excited to hit the gym. But somewhere along the way, the enthusiasm starts to recede like the ocean tide. What once was the most thrilling part of your day, is now feeling like a chore.
The grind gets boring.
Related: 6 Compound Exercises You Should Never Swap Out
This is the fork in the road that every lifter, including you, will experience. The paths before you lead you down very different roads. One is the path of least resistance. Along this trek, you'll show up to the gym and punch the clock. It looks like you're training, but deep down you know you aren't grinding.
The other trail, is the road to mastering the mundane.
This journey is long, boring, and tedious. But for those who endure, the reward is great.
When you commit to mastering the mundane, it's imperative that you do everything you can to keep the fire in your belly alive. Showing up and doing the work is the requirement. That's non-negotiable. How you perform the work is where you can add some variance.
Here are the 7 best movements you can do to avoid getting bored out of your mind when you're traveling the road of mastering the mundane.
If you've been front squatting for a while and progress has stalled, switching to a bottoms-up half front squat may be the antidote to non-existent gains.
7 Effective Exercises for Better Gains
1. Bottoms-up half front squatHeavy front squats will always have their place in strength and quad development category. They also provide a wonderful alternative to the back squat for those who need to improve positioning and have lower back issues.
But if you've been front squatting for a while and progress has stalled, switching to a bottoms-up half front squat may be the antidote to non-existent gains. By using the similar front squat movement pattern but also utilizing some slight changes to execute the movement, you'll address two vital areas in the front squat: tightness coming out of the hole and TUT (time under tension), particularly in the quads. With bottoms-up half front squats, you'll get stronger and build more muscle.
First you'll want to set your rack up. Sit safety pins at a level where you are at the bottom of a front squat, and then load your bar at this level. The movement will start at a dead-stop. By doing so, you automatically train yourself to get tight as you explode out from the hole.
You'll ascend only half way up then return to starting position. Arrive at a dead stop by allowing the barbell to rest on the safety pins before initiating your next rep.
2. Garhammer raiseThe lower region of the abdominal are a typical problem areas for most people. The Garhammer raise, popularized by Charles Poliquin, is a sure-fire way to blast through plateaus in shaking off stubborn belly fat.
The advanced version of this movement is performed by hanging from a pull-up bar. From the hanging position assumed with an overhand grip, you'll first tuck your chin into your neck. Then, you'll pull your thighs up making them parallel to the floor.
Turn your feet towards each other and have your toes touch. This is the starting position. From here, you'll pull your knees into your trunk, hold for one second and then return to starting position.
A beginner should do these on the floor holding the leg of a squat rack above head for an anchor. The set up will be similar with a few adjustments. You'll lie flat holding an anchor above your head.
First, you'll bring your thighs up making them perpendicular with the floor. Turn your feet towards each other and have your toes touch. From here you'll pull your knees towards your trunk (make sure your hips lift from the floor), hold for a second and then return to starting position.
3. Farmer's walkHave you ever shaken a strongman's hand? It leaves you feeling like a little school girl.
The farmer's walk is a versatile, yet accessible training tool for all levels. For domineering grip strength that is vital to deadlifting and pull ups, and for functional cardio the farmer's walk has little competition.
In strongman events, particular handles are used for this event. Grabbing a couple of farmer's walk handles that attach to barbells is a breeze these days. However, if your gym doesn't have them or you don't have the budget, you can do these with heavy dumbbells or plain old loaded barbells.
It's tempting to "grip it and rip it" since the movement is pretty straightforward. However, it's important to take note a few things.
First, make sure your hands are central to the grip. Second, get tight. The initial pull off the floor is similar to a deadlift. Inhale into your belly, not your chest. You don't want an elongated spine when you pull. Once the bars are off the floor get tall and pin the shoulders back. Lastly, take small, fast steps.
4. Floor press/Glute bridge comboThe floor press/glute bridge combo is painfully overlooked. One possible reason is that it looks ridiculous. Secondly, because of the added glute bridge you may believe that it hinders your ability to move heavy weight.
Any movement that helps you build a barrel chest and develop show-stopping glutes, no matter how ridiculous it looks, should be trained. And, if you think about it, the glute bridge closely mimics the leg drive in a traditional bench press which assist in moving more weight.
You'll lie on your back with a set of dumbbells racked and rested on your chest. Palms facing inward towards each other. Your knees will be flexed, allowing your feet to be planted on the floor about shoulder width apart.
To initiate, you'll press the dumbbells while simultaneously driving your hips to the ceiling, squeezing your glutes. At the top of the movement, you'll want to keep your midline tight. There should a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Your arms and hips should move fluidly together on the ascend and descend of the entire moment.
If you want bigger pipes and your shirt sleeves to feel tight as a glove, you need to add the perfect curl to your game.
5. The perfect curlIf you want bigger pipes and your shirt sleeves to feel tight as a glove, you need to add the perfect curl to your game.
You'll use a straight bar with a shoulder width grip. You'll start with the elbows resting on your pelvis while assuming a backwards lean (think of dodging a right hook at the bar after you've ran your mouth for too long). This starting position will activate the lower insertion of the biceps.
To initiate, you'll curl the bar as your normally would but you'll include the forward travel of the shoulders and torso to become vertical. This middle portion of the movement blast the middle belly of your biceps.
To finish off the perfect curl, you'll continue to bring the shoulders and torso forward essentially hovering slightly over the bar as it continues ascending. This allows for peak contraction.
It'll look a little weird, but the pay off is worth it.
6. Close stance leg pressThere are few things more impressive than a set of strong, well-developed quads. However, many lifters have struggle to build out the VMO (vastus medialis obliquus). This is the tear drop muscle located on the inside of the knee. It's a stubborn muscle to hit, but it's a crucial part of building a set jaw-dropping wheels.
One way you can really tax them is with the close-stance angled leg press. Assume your starting position by taking a close stance with your toes turned out about 10-15 degrees (just inside the shoulders) and place your feet a little lower on the platform.
The goal here is to pump out high volume. Once you explode out of the bottom, don't come to a full lockout. This will keep the tension on the VMO and cause some massive pain in all the right ways.
Ideally, you'll want to use this move when your legs are pumped. After squatting, lunging or hitting some leg extensions would be appropriate.
7. Guillotine pressThis is an old school move from the Iron Guru, Vince Gironda. He also trained the very first Mr. Olympia, Larry Scott who exclusively trained the Guillotine press for his chest development.
With years of hands on experience from his own training and coaching others, Vince concluded that the guillotine press which is executed by lowering the bar down to your neck while flaring your elbows out to the side stimulated the fan-shaped pectoralis major muscle better than any other bench press variation.
You'll assume the starting position normally as you would in an bench press set-up. When you initiate, you'll flare your elbows out while bringing the bar down to your neck (as opposed to the middle chest). You won't be able to move as much weight as you normally would in a standard bench press, but the slight change in execution will recruit more muscle activation in your pecs.
Wrapping UpAlong the way to mastering the mundane, adding in variance will often times save you from asking "What the hell am I doing this for and should I keep going?"
By all means, do everything you can to stay in the fight. Grinding in the gym is one of the last few activities on earth that will test you physically, spiritually, and emotionally. The gym makes you stronger in more ways than you think.
Hopefully, this article provides a nugget of wisdom that allows you to press on. Keep going. Don't give up. Nobody regretted giving their best.