Most of you will understand the principles of following a body split to ensure you have training each muscle group evenly. Most of you will also know that your individual muscle groups develop at different rates; this is often down to genetics. Personally, my back grows if it so much as looks at a latt pulldown yet my chest won’t grow even if I put it through a marathon of super human chest exercises! Today I wanted to talk about the core exercises we tend to use for our workouts and why you should try to alternate them with something new to give your muscles something different to worry about!
Pulldowns are one of the most common back exercises, people will rep and swing and these machines all day long. However, we don’t see these same people hit the pull up bar so often. Pull ups, chin ups or whatever else you want to call them are the ultimate test in body strength in my opinion. Anyone who trains properly should be able to nail a set of 12 perfect pull ups, so if you cant make the switch between these exercises today!
Why? Pull ups, done properly will help bring out the detail in your back right the way down to your lumbars. More than this, pull ups are one of the very best builders for your back! Hit your back with 3 sets, controlling the negative portion at the start of your next back workout!
The flat bench press is often hailed as the only way to build an Olympian chest which is why the bench is never free in the gym, especially come Monday night! Ironically, the flat bench is believed by many including myself as an inferior exercise for chest development. When you lift heavy on the flat bench press your triceps are the driving force, which is why anybody who can bench freaky poundages generally have a sick set of triceps. Bench pressing with dumbbells should see your chest grow!
Why? Dumbbells are much more effective for chest stimulation which is why I recommend you switch to dumbbell bench press. There is a much greater range of motion and you are able to squeeze the pecs harder at the top of the contraction and stretch the pecs further at the bottom of the repetition.
Barbell curls are one of the most common exercises used for bicep training, whether it is with a free bar or on a cable. There is nothing wrong with this exercise, it just that people fail to understand the benefit of doing close grip barbell curls to help optimise bicep development. To help make your arms look nice and thick from the side, use a close grip next time you curl with a bar!
Why? This places the emphasis on the outer head of the bicep. The majority of bicep exercises stimulate the inner head, and considering there are two heads of the biceps it is essential that you do train both for maximum development!
Straight bar pushdowns are generally the favoured exercise for the triceps. This is indeed a super exercise, however many people miss out on what has to be one of the best exercises of all time! As we mentioned earlier, the bench press is not the best way to hit your chest muscles but it is when it comes to your triceps! Using a close grip on the bar, with your hands about one foot apart try pressing 10-12 reps and see how the back of your arms feel!
Why? Bench pressing affords a full range of motion for the triceps without any body swing which so many people use when they are doing pushdowns. Close grip bench pressing also allows you to lift pretty heavy weight which is great for adding mass to the back of your arms!
Shoulder press machines have really become popular, in some instances taking the light from good old dumbbell shoulder pressing for many beginners. Having said that, both exercises in my opinion tend to hit the front portion (anterior head) of the deltoids. To help switch things up, and to use a compound movement which hits a larger area of the deltoids hit the shoulder press machine. BUT, sit facing the seat and you will find the weight transfer travels much more directly through the centre of your deltoids. Only certain shoulder press machines will lend itself to this, so give it a go!
Leg pressing and squats are great, anybody who denies them of their major credibility as two of the most taxing and challenging exercises is a simply a fool in my eyes. However it does pay to try something new sometimes, especially when you want to really get sever DOMS in your legs!
Try single leg leg presses using 1.5 times your body weight if you can manage, for as many reps as possible! This is a killer exercise, and with a deep range of motion it hits your glutes, hamstrings and quads!
Next time you hit the gym try some of these changes to see if they make a difference. My bet is that they will, and the target muscles will be sore for days after!