Happy New Year! I’m sure you are back in the gym working on your 2016 health and fitness goals, so I wanted to post a quick list of exercises you may have forgotten about while you were on “break”. As always I recommend working with a Personal Trainer, but if you are flying solo this year make sure you look up these exercises for a refresher on how to do them properly.
I’m sure you are already doing squats as part of your “big 3” routine. But the Split Squat will recruit and train more muscles in the quadriceps. Strong quads will help improve mobility, prevent knee pain, and hopefully avoid ACL injuries. You can do forward lunges, reverse lunges, use the bar, dumbbells, or kettle bells. Lots of ways to fit this one into your routine. No excuses.
Yes, it’s hard. That doesn’t mean you should avoid it. The pull-up works more muscles in your upper body than any other single exercise. Build up your pull-up strength by focusing on the eccentric (lowering) movement to rapidly strengthen the back. Start at the top and lower yourself as slowly as possible. Use a pull-up assist machine or use a spotter for the raise until you are strong enough to do it on your own. It won’t take long to get to 3-5 reps.
Deadlifts should always be a staple of your training regimen. But don’t forget the RDL. The Romanian deadlift trains the posterior chain of the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back more than a standard deadlift because you don’t bend your knees as much. You can’t go as heavy on the RDL – if your rounding the lower back, the weight is too heavy. Pay attention to your form.
One of the most common mistakes people make is repeating the same routine every time they go to the gym. This is not an effective way to exercise and can cause imbalances that can hurt your mobility and lead to injuries. Work with a personal trainer to set up a specific exercise program with proper periodization. Don’t get stuck in a routine!
All the Bros like to load up the bar and do heavy back squats because it looks cool to stand there with all those plates. However, a front squat will work the same muscles but is a lot safer on your lower back and knees and promotes flexibility in all major joints. It is a lot harder to cheat the front squat. The position of the bar will correct your form and posture while working more core stabilization muscles. Put less weight on the bar and work on front squats.
The most overlooked piece of equipment in the gym is the glute-ham. Again it trains the posterior chain,lower back, and abs. This is a key exercise for desk workers that sit in a chair 8 hours a day. We all need a strong core and lower back, but most people neglect to train these areas. Once you are comfortable with the movement, you can add resistance by holding weight plates in your arms.