The Best Tricep Exercises

At one or two of these exercises to your gym workout and build your triceps. The tricep muscles form roughly 60% of your bicep size so you definite need to include some and here are the best triceps exercises I could find.

Doing Close-grip Bench Presses for Bigger Triceps

The close-grip bench press is arguably the best triceps exercise that exists today. The movements during this exercise are such that you can easily progress towards using heavier weights and make visible triceps gain quite quickly. Further, it allows you to target the lower and inner-arm section; inducing maximum stress on the triceps apart from working the pectoral muscles and this is how it also creates a base for better benching performance. For close grips, you need to use a regular bench-pressing bench. Your hands shouldn’t be spread wider than your shoulder’s width. You are essentially doing a conventional bench press but here your grip is squeezed quite a lot. This means that during the descent, your elbows should be tucked in and you shouldn’t allow the elbows to drift or fall away or else this will turn into a regular bench press. When you are hitting the lower end of the movement, the bar should be very close to the lower section of your chest. Whereas at the top of your movement, the loaded bar should be positioned directly over the upper section of your chest. Ideally, your forearms must be positioned perpendicular to the floor throughout this movement with your wrists and hands being positioned directly over the elbows.

Getting Weighted Dips Right!

Weighted dips are regarded as the most classic and useful of all triceps-builder exercises. These are conventional dips done with a slightly closer grip. You need to maintain your body in an upright stance. This induces more stress on the triceps instead of targeting the chest. To challenge yourself, you can use weighted belts that can be added to your legs or hips. You need to ensure that you don’t use too much of your shoulders or seek assistance from your hip when you are trying to rise from the hole. The idea is to raise yourself using your arms, particularly the upper arms. For making this easier, try not to lower your body so much that the shoulders are forced into supporting your bodyweight. Doing the first few reps slowly and gradually, ramping-up the speed ensures bounce-free movement.

Understand Board Press/Rack Lockouts

These are two of the most recommended power-lifting exercises that are usually targeted at training the upper body, particularly the arms and the triceps. The objective here is to train the upper portion of the bench press in a thorough manner which eventually means that the triceps are involved to the maximum. For this, Rack Lockouts are ideal since you can use a heavy load without tiring out too much. However, some powerlifters have a preference for the board press over rack lockouts. This is because the variations in the thickness of the boards allow lots of room in targeting various parts of the triceps area.  Most gyms have boards ranging from 1 to 10 inches in thickness, giving ample of options.

Skull-crushers or Lying French Presses

Among all the triceps-extension exercises, Skull Crushers has remained the conventional favorite for many decades. It is also called the French press. This is actually an arm extension exercise that beautifully targets the triceps. It works the triceps from various angles rather than creating pressing movements. French presses re best done using the EZ Curl Bar since it allows for greater hyperextension of the arm. Here, you can position your hands at about shoulder-width apart. The idea is to lower the bar slowly, maintaining control, where the bar should come close to your hairline or it should just about scrape the back of your head.

Diamond Push-ups or Close-grip Clapping Push-ups

Yes, you might be thinking that this exercise should be listed as a part of chest training regimen but the truth is that if you can squeeze at least 10 Diamond Push-ups and combine this with a clap, you are set to make some awesome gains for triceps. Your hands should be positioned directly underneath your chest. Here, the thumb and the index fingers should be just about touching and the little spacing between them should form a diamond-like shape. You can do the initial reps without the clap. You can add the claps when you have crossed ten reps. Clapping here means pushing yourself really hard since you need to clap quickly and ensure that you are able to return your hands into the original diamond-like stance before staring the next rep.

 

 

 

The Best Lower Back Exercises

Here are the best lower back exercises I could find.

The Deadlift

The Deadlift is undoubtedly the most critical and effective back exercise that has ever been conceived. This is not hard to believe since the Deadlift is among the oldest of back exercises, and one of the best examples of compound exercises that utilize various muscle groups in the body. Combined with the squat, the Deadlift forms a deadly combination—one that is capable of helping you gain extensive muscle mass and make unbelievable gains. Deadlifts are so effective since they work every major muscle group in your body including the calves, pectorals, traps, shoulders, quadriceps and hamstrings apart from the glutes and your entire core, including parts of the abdominal section. For those who are desperately seeking to raise their mass gains, this exercise when performed correctly can yield excellent results.

Doing the Deadlift Right!

There are not many variations in attempting the Deadlift since its basic mannerism has remained the same over the centuries. This basically involves lifting the weight off the floor using your entire body. When starting out, you can use the standard, 45 pound barbell that should be placed on a flat, even floor. Now, position your feet along the width of your shoulders and place your hands on the side of the bar that is facing away from your feet. Now, try to lock your back in a stance wherein you feel you would be able to pick the bar without creating too much of an arch in the back. For doing so, you need to drop your buttocks low and then attempt pulling the bar, all the time ensuring that the bar is close to your body, i.e. close enough to literally scrape the shins. As you rise with the barbell, your entire body is engaged in this activity. Once you have pulled the bar up, drop it down with a reasonably slow speed wherein you don’t throw it on the floor but place it back on the floor with minimal bounce.

Rack Pulls

In this back exercise, you need a squat rack. You should get started by moving the safety bars to a level where the bar is resting at around your knee’s height. Now, start by placing the bar on the rack. This exercise is essentially a variation of the deadlift and is done in a similar manner. This means that your feet should be as spread apart as your shoulder width and once you have placed the bar accordingly, you should grip the loaded bar a bit beyond the shoulder’s width. From this stance, you can lift the bar up and then lower it on to the safety bars—this has to be done repeatedly, i.e. more reps are small pauses are recommended for rack pulls.

The Squat

The Squat is the undisputed leader in the niche of lower and upper back exercises. It has been practiced for many years and is still regarded as the first step towards gaining full-body conditioning. When starting out, you can use the standard 45-lb barbell. This barbell should be placed on your shoulders and not your neck. Ideally, you should seek some help to place the squat bar to avoid back injuries. If you don’t have help, pick the bar off a rack and step back away from the rack. This ensures proper spacing for your movement. Your legs should be spread a bit wider than you shoulders. The feet should be pointed outwards. When you are squatting downwards, the knees should track-out a bit, i.e. towards your toes. Ensure that you are looking straight ahead and try to keep your back as straight as possible. You should bend until your thighs are almost parallel to the floor. This is the downward thrust of the Squat. Now, you need to use your butt and thighs for pushing a bit beyond the parallel position and then rise back. You need to use your hips as the driving force here and not your shoulders. Yes, Squats are regarded as a primary leg exercise but they work wonderfully for expanding your back and making it stronger, particularly the lower back.

Yes, Back Extensions Actually Work!

Back Extensions are done best using the bodyweight when attempting them for the first time. This helps to get the form right. Get started by placing the feet into the locks to secure them firmly. These are the locks or the padded section on the gym benches that are recommended for leg and back exercises.  Now, place each of your legs across the padding and ensure that your body and upper torso are positioned properly to help you be mobile in this stance. Now, you need to let your body dip and for raising it, use the back, i.e. to raise yourself.

Make Gains the ‘Good Mornings’ Way

Good Mornings are regarded as the typical, niche-defining old-world exercises that were very popular during the early part of the century. Even today, many gym trainers swear by the use of Good Mornings for working-out the back. For getting started, you need the conventional 45 lb barbell—secure this bar on your back. Now, you need to step back until you are sure of having sufficient room for yourself and your bodily movement. Now, move your head in a downward motion. While doing so, you need to keep your back tight. Check repeatedly to see if your back is getting in an almost-parallel position with your waist. This is the stop point and from here on, you need to go back to the top. Never create a major curve in your back when attempting Good Mornings as this creates the risk of injuring your back.

The Best Calf Exercises

calf

Calves form the most visible part of the leg and strong, muscular calves are found among very few people, usually only those who have trained hard to make some serious gains in this part of the body. The following are the best calf exercises dedicated towards developing bigger and stronger calves and defining them to the hilt:

1. Smith Machine Calf Raises

For doing this exercise, you need to be familiar with using the Smith Machine. This machine offers more stabilization and thus, ensures greater safety. This machine ensures that your chances of falling backwards are almost nil. It also helps to engage more body-weight into the exercise. Ensure that you are using a stable platform before you head towards un-racking the bar. Once you are sure about the platform, ensure that one heel of the shoe is hanging from the back of your platform. This ensures that you can fully stretch. This means better extension of the calf muscles when moving them up and back. Doing this exercise comes almost naturally since the machine itself explains the way in which you should be positioned and every time you rise off the platform, you can feel the calves being worked upon.

2. Seated Calf Raises

Using the Smith Machine, you need to seat yourself rather than stand. Here, it is vital to ensure that your legs are planted and you get a good grip. For doing so, you have to lock the knees a bit below/beyond the padded part of the machine. Your heels should be positioned such that they are far away from the platform and your calves are stretched to the maximum. In this stance, you are bound to feel the flexed calves and they might feel sore but this is how seated calf raises are done. It is advisable to do your basic warming-up repeatedly, particularly for the lower legs, before attempting this. Try to start off with limited load so that your calves aren’t strained too much. When your calves are bent downwards let the stretch before bringing them back. For gaining results through seated calf raises, higher reps are needed and thus, you should be prepared to spend some dedicated time in the gym.

3. Donkey Calf Raises

The Old School bodybuilders from the 60s to the 70s depended upon Donkey Raises for maximizing the volume on their calves. These are ideally done with a training partner or a spotter—this is the classic calf exercise with which you cannot go wrong. You need the Smith machine here and when you get onto it, position the feet spread about at your shoulder’s width. You need to be leaning forward a bit with your elbows and the forearms, using the padding that should be facing you head-on. You should have a good arch in the spine but not a hunch. This means that your butt would be pushing against the padded back lever that has a spring-like system within it and moves up and down with your body, i.e. every time you try to raise it with your bums. The idea is to use your bums as the medium for moving upwards, i.e. the force comes from the calves and not the hips. It’s a bit difficult to ensure that your glutes are not engaged when you try this for the first time but it can be done after a few attempts.

4. Standing Calf Raises (DB)

You can get started by getting hold of a dumbbell. It is better to begin with lighter weights since it takes time to get accustomed to the range-of-motion involved here. You need just one dumbbell for this exercise. Hold your chosen dumbbell in one hand. Ensure that you are standing on a stable, plain platform. The back of your heels should be hanging off a bit, i.e. they should be slightly pushed into the air, off the platform. This is vital to get the right kind of extension and stretch in your calves. Since you have one hand engaged and one free, use the free hand for holding onto something for better balance.

5. Toe Pushes or Single Leg Calf Presses

To attempt this exercise, you need to understand the dynamics of the right posture/stance. You should get started by searching for a seated sled machine or any other variation of the leg press machine that is located in a non-congested manner. Ensure that you have minimal bending in your knees as you try to do the conventional leg calf press when standing on this platform. However, you need to do something more for making this a better challenge for your toes and thus, your calves. You need to un-rack the weight by exerting your legs outwards. This creates a fuller extension in your legs. Using a single leg at a time means that you are concentrating more on the muscle groups of a single leg rather than distributing the workload among your two legs. When attempting this exercise, ensure that your ankles are extended to the fullest. For this, your toes should be pointing away from your body. The flexing part comes-in when you flex the ankles. This is done by pointing the toes backwards, i.e. in the direction of your head. This should make you feel that your calves are being really stretched. This entire range of motion is just one rep and when done with heavier weights, this exercise is ideal for bulking-up your calves.

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The Best Biceps Exercises

biceps

In order to get bigger, fuller and more defined arms, it is vital that some direct exercises and some compound exercises are combined. This is the only sure way of gaining bigger biceps. Furthermore, you shouldn’t concentrate on the arms too much. You don’t need to have a biceps-only days since there are so many exercises that work the biceps along with working other body parts. Here are the best biceps exercises.

1. Standing Barbell Curls

Some people don’t realize this but the standing curl is one of the few compound biceps exercises. This is truer when you are lifting a serious weight on the bar. This sort of curling uses all the muscles of the arms, forearms and the triceps along with engaging the biceps beautifully. You can get started on the standard 45 pound barbell. Ideally, your hands should be positioned firmly with your palms facing upwards. The arms don’t need to be beyond the shoulder width and you should allow your arms to hand besides you. The bar should be placed in front of the hips. When starting to lift the bar, tuck-in your elbows and try never to move them during the exercise. When curling the bar, the target should be to curl the bar up to your chin. The bar shouldn’t be bouncing off your hips and neither should it be slamming against your chest. To add variations, you can use wide grip and medium grip barbell curls.

2. Hammer Curls

The Hammer Curl is a traditional and respected biceps exercise that can help you develop your forearms and bi’s tremendously. This is better done if you are seated on a firm bench, just on the edge, i.e. seated with minimal back support. Your two dumbbells should be hanging from each hand, to the side, with your arms straight and the palms facing inwards, i.e. towards your thighs. The vertical section of the dumbbell should be held parallel to the floor and when you start to raise the dumbbell, the movement should resemble hammering a nail with a hammer. The idea should be to raise the dumbbell high with minimally moving the elbows. The flat end of the dumbbell should ideally come very close to touching your shoulder.

3. Dumbbell Curls (with Alternative Rotations)

This is one of the simplest, most commonly seen biceps exercises that can be seen in nearly every gym across the world. However, not many people realize that they are often not using the right way of curling. Firstly, instead of curling simultaneously, alternative curling is much more effective. This helps you focus on each arm individually. You need to grab a pair of dumbbells, where you feel that doing ten or so reps would be a challenge. Hold the dumbbells at your sides, grasping them firmly. Let your arms hang. The weights should be facing your body. Keep the elbows tucked when you are about to start curling. You need to start curling with the dumbbells in the hammer-shaped stance. Now, as you are about to complete the hammer curl, start to rotate it, i.e. as you are nearing the end of the movement, your palms should start coming upwards and start turning towards your head. This is how the curl is done and it helps to work the entire arm. Ensure that you don’t sway much as you need to generate the power from your arms and not your back or hips.

4. Supinated Bent-Over-Rows

This is one of the most serious biceps gainers that is practiced and recommended heavily by powerlifters and gym-worshipping guys. This is mainly because the supinated rows allow you to lift beyond what you can achieve doing simple or hammer dumbbell curls. The movement of straight bar rows in the supinated position might seem to be working the back muscles and largely that is the case but it also work heavily on your arms, particularly the biceps. You need to get started by grabbing a loaded bar using a supinated grip, i.e. where your palms are facing up and your hands are spread shoulder-width wide. You need to bend you upper body, parallel to the floor when holding the bar with your elbows slightly tucked in. The row is actually quite simple. You merely need to let the bar hang and then bring it back to your abdomen. You can allow the bar to touch your abs on the way up.

5. Close-gripped Chin-ups

Putting on more mass on the biceps is one of the commonest gym goals and for making it come true, there is nothing better than doing insanely high number of chin ups, a couple of times a week—the close grip version. The reason to use a close grip is very simple. By keeping your hands closer than usual, you are engaging more focus on the biceps for lifting the bodyweight. This means that you are combining a compound exercise along with a bicep curling movement! Close-grip chin-ups are the building blocks of many bicep-heavy bodybuilders. You need to locate a straight bar that can be comfortably reached from a standing position. The grip should be underhand or supinated grip, i.e. your palms should be facing your body. Keeping your hands about 6-inches apart is recommended. You can induce more variations by doing weighted chin-ups where some weight is tied to your feet. You can also place a dumbbell between the ankles or tie a weighted belt to your legs. The weighted belt should have a loop on one end where you can engage the hook of a chain or add some weight. You should aim to chin-up over the bar since this is the conventional way of completing a chin-up rep.

The Best Neck Exercises

Here are a few of the best neck exercises to build a thick, strong neck.

1. The Neck Bridge

The Neck Bridge is counted among the most effective of neck exercises. For doing this, you need to get started by positioning yourself on the floor. Here, your feet and hands should be planted firmly on a gym mat or the floor. Once, in this position you need to position your head on the floor and try to roll your head upwards and then backwards and then, a bit to the side, using your neck for propelling the motion. Ensure that you don’t force the movement when attempting this exercise for the first time as it might induce an unwanted injury. This exercise needs weeks of practice to get the movement right and to see the visible gains.

2. Manual Resistance Neck Exercises

Manual resistance exercises for the neck are regarded as the simplest of neck exercises that most people can attempt, i.e. whether you are new to the gym or a seasoned trainer. Ideally, this exercise should be done with a training partner. However, this is not a limitation. You can do this on your own by putting your hands on the head and pushing the head but while doing so, you use your hands for creating the resistance, i.e. trying to stop the movement of head in a minimal way. While doing so, you should be trying to use your neck muscles for keeping the head straight. The same needs to be done for doing resistance training from the side of the neck wherein your push creates the force that needs to be resisted thereby inducing contractions within the neck muscles. Initially, you might find it difficult to get the movement right since most starters in the gym don’t have strong neck muscles. However, over a period you will find it easier to do more reps and add more pressure on your head. This is the best and easiest form of resistance training that needs minimum support or guidance and can also be done after a strenuous workout session.

3. The Neck Harness

For executing neck harness exercises, you need a typical kind of training equipment that is not too expensive, i.e. a neck harness. Usually, gyms have it but if your gym doesn’t, this is something that you can invest in and use for years. When trying this for the first time, it is advisable to start with a much lower weight. The harness is attached to the upper part of your head. After doing this, you need to sit on a bench as you slowly lower your head, aiming to make your neck just about parallel to the shoulders. This is your stop position. From here, you need to raise your head upwards.

4. Barbell Shrugs for Your Neck

Yes, most people related the Shrug with shoulder exercises but the fact remains that shrugs are one of the best neck exercises too. The movement in a shrug hits your neck muscles almost in every possible way. When you move to shrugging some seriously heavy load, making some notable neck gains will not be a struggle. For doing the neck shrug, you need the usual 45-pound barbell that you should grab about at your shoulder’s width. You can try slightly farther spread grips also. Check your stance—it should be about shoulder-width apart at the time of un-racking the barbell. Now, raise the barbell slowly as if you are shrugging it.

5. Make Your Neck Thicker with Upright Rows

If you want to hit your traps right in the middle and make appreciable neck gains, then there is no escaping Upright Rows done with progressively heavier weights. Those who have moved on to heavier weights in doing rows too soon or done it with the wrong posture might complain of rows hurting their rotator cuffs and causing pain. However, this is still among the most recommended exercises for building-up the mass in and around the neck. You can use the 45 lb barbell when starting your shrugging regimen and gradually make the bar heavier. You need to grab the barbell at about your shoulder’s width. Your palms should be facing outwards. Now, you need to raise the bar upwards, i.e. towards your neck. While doing so, ensure your elbows are bent outwards. When you are a few inches away from the neck, slowly lower the bar towards its initial/ starting position.

The Best Shoulder Exercises

Shoulders are hands down one of the hardest muscles to build, they are injury prone and require a lot of care during the workout. Here is a list of the best shoulder exercises I could find:

1. Hang Clean & Press

This is regarded as the king of all shoulder exercises that ensure greater muscle mass development apart from defining the shoulders. Hang Clean is quite similar to High Pull—a rather robust exercise that in itself resembles the Upright Row a lot. Further, if you can do the press without hesitating too much, you can use the momentum for greater stretching that is in turn needed for better reflexes to press upon more weight than that is possible from rising from a dead stop position. However, using the momentum during the Hang Clean is not easily learnt and needs some degree of training. The press is a bit hard because it also involves a bit of push that uses the legs apart from other joints that is necessary for creating the bare minimum momentum.

This exercise is not designed for any particular kind of physical training. The idea is to increase the overall gains and training intensity. The Hang Clean method is also called the Hang Clean & Press since its mixes the basics of Olympic lifting with the standard weightlifting techniques that includes a supportive form of pressing. It can be done using heavy weights that is required for developing strength or even with lightweights that is required for developing more power and speed. Please note that Hang Clean might not be recommended by every gym trainer and thus, not accepted as a part of standard bodybuilding methods but its utility for building muscle is well known.

Executing The Hang Clean & Press

Setting-up the Hang Clean & Press is undemanding. All you need to ensure is that an Olympic barbell is loaded with some weight. You need to position your feet accordingly, i.e. it should be able to support the bodyweight and the added weight. You should be standing in such a position wherein your hands are securely located on the bar and just about a bit beyond the realm of the outside shoulder width. Ensure that you keep your back flat and the chin upwards to dead-lift the weight in a standing position while the bar rests against the thighs—this is the standard starting position. Here onwards, you need to lower the bar to just about your knees, all the while maintaining minimal bending around the knees and waist.

This is just about the perfect way to execute a clean Hang Clean where you need to get the bar along your shoulders. Ideally, your ankles should be extended a bit, your knees flexed minimally, traps extended a bit and your overall body position will be something that is required when attempting the upright row, i.e. when trying to pull the bar upwards in a straight line with the goal of aligning the bar at par with your shoulders. When you have attained this stance, you have to rotate your elbows, i.e. under the bar so that they are in a catching posture in front of the shoulders, facing your chest and gripped upwards. Ensure that you bend your knees minimally to assist the catch and not fuel it.

Now, immediately press the loaded bar, attaining full extension and then lower the bar to your shoulders. Towards the end, the drop can be backed down to the thighs for completing the rep. Please note that the hang clean doesn’t offer a reverse curling option. This movement itself puts forth a combination of one-quarter squat, a bit of calf raise and some degree of shrug along with a 3/4th Upright Row. There are basic variations in this segment that include Variations: Clean & Press, Clean & Push apart from Hang Clean & Push.

2. Standing Overhead Press  (or the Military Press)

The Military Press is considered as effective as the Deadlifts, Squat and Bench Pressing in terms of one of the most effective and absolutely mandatory exercises that are recommended for all serious weight-lifters and those who want more gains in their gym routine. It is usually said that if a gym-regular is not Overhead Pressing, he/she is not ‘really lifting’—this underlines the Military Press being the ultimate Compound exercise that combines pressing and lifting for the shoulders.

Executing The Military Press Properly

You have two options for setting the bar. You either do this using the power rack or using the squat rack. The other option is to clean lift the weight from your shoulders by using a spotter for assistance. You should be gripping the bar about 2 to 3 inches a bit beyond the shoulder width. The starting stance is the weight resting on the upper chest and shoulder area. The bar should be pressed in front of the face and the elbows should be in a slightly relaxed lockout. You need to lower the weight with some degree of control, i.e. upon your upper chest for completing the rep and doing more reps. Ensure that you don’t bounce the weights off your shoulders and your legs too shouldn’t be thrusting along your legs or hips. This resembles a basic form of a Push Press that is quite good but this is the conventional Military Press.

Dumbbell Shoulder Press—Basic Variations You Should Know

Military Press presents basic variations like the:

Standing Military Press

Seated Military Press

Push Press-Type Military Press

Dumbbell Press-Type Military Press

Among these, the three most important variations are those of the Dumbbell Shoulder Press that has been explained in detail below.

Standing, One-arm Dumbbell Shoulder Press

This variation is recommended since it allows the exerciser to lift more and even alternate sides, combining speed with control. When in the standing position, you should clean raise both the dumbbells to the shoulder level. You need to lift one dumbbell at a time, i.e. the other should be resting on the opposite shoulder. When you are bringing down the first dumbbell to your upper shoulder level, your second dumbbell should have already moving in the upwards direction—there is no need to rest between the reps here.

Executing The Seated Dumbbell Press

Understand that when you are seated, you are generating more power with your legs and you are pressed against the bench which means you have added stability and strength. This means that you should be able to press more and for a longer period, doing more reps. When seated, you should rest the dumbbells on the knees so that the arms and shoulders get some recovery time. Now that you are ready, ensure that you use your legs for popping each of the dumbbells to the shoulders. Your feet should be flatly grounded on the floor for pressing both the dumbbells simultaneously. You should stop just a bit short of a full lockout of the elbows. Now, return the dumbbells to the shoulders for completing the rep. variations are rather limited here where you can try the standing version, i.e. the alternating, one-arm version that is a bit demanding for folks trying this variation for the first time.

Executing The Seated Arnold Shoulder Press

This slightly-awkward but very rewarding exercise is regarded beneficial since it works the front and sides of the deltoid muscles. You shouldn’t be using very heavy weights for this. This is because this regimen is more difficult than most of the other exercises wherein regular dumbbells or barbell presses are involved. There are very few variations in this niche that include the Arnold Shoulder Presses that are considered rather demanding for first-time gym-goers. These exercises are recommended for those who are quite familiar with shoulder exercises that include some degree of pressing.

3. Upright Barbell Rows

Upright Barbell Rows might be looked upon as very demanding exercise by some gym regulars but the fact remains that this is the most effective exercise for developing the upper shoulder muscles and exercising the rotator cuffs that is needed for developing some serious bulk around the shoulders. However, you should ensure that you don’t rotate the bar than the shoulder level. This is one of the most successful exercises for working the medial and outside heads of shoulders. The best equipment for this exercise is the Straight Bar or the EZ Curl Bar. Most gym trainers tend to prefer the EZ Curl. For this exercise you should stand up and grab the bar just about an inch lesser than the shoulder width. You need to raise the barbell in front of your body, just to the level of the shoulders or at the most, an inch above the shoulder level. Bend your elbows in the most minimal manner. The elbows should be pointing straight and the bar should ideally not cross the level of the chin.

Variations in Upright Barbell Rows

There are not many variations in this niche since the idea is not to induce too much pressure on the neck. Thus, you can try the following when attempting to try-out different combinations like:

Two-arm Upright Barbell Rows

One-arm Upright Barbell Rows

Wide-grip Upright Barbell Rows

Medium-grip Upright Barbell Rows

Close-grip Upright Barbell Rows

High-pull Upright Barbell Rows

Clean dumbbell Upright Barbell Rows

The most demanding of these variations is the High Pull Upright Barbell Rows that requires you to finish upright rows using more momentum. This is the same sort of power that is required for executing the Hang Clean regimen that is needed for pulling up the bar to the shoulder level. This extra momentum is generated via the extension of the ankles that is combined with some degree of shrugging the shoulders. This involves a ¼ squat that is needed for driving the bar further. Try not to pause too much when you reach the furthest point of the barbell’s rise.

4. Overhead Squats

Overhead Squats might sound rather demanding but these are rather easy to do once you get accustomed to it. This is very awkward when first seen or tried but it is ideally suited for building the stability in the shoulders. The name ‘Overhead Squats’ suggests that you might have to do some impossible sort of posturing that includes lifting weight over your head but the reality is that Overhead Squats use the strength of the legs and use a load that is much lighter than what is normally used for squatting exercises.

Executing Overhead Squats

For getting started with Overhead Squats, load a barbell using some light weights and this is ideally done on a power snatch that makes it easier to pick the loaded bar off the rack. For positioning the bar into the appropriate position, you can use the snatch grip that is essentially a wider grip that is as much as 1.5 feet beyond the width of the shoulders. You can also bend down to grasp the bar in an extra-wide deadlift kind of stance. Now, you need to Deadlift this bar into the conventional hang position using the hang snatch.  Slowly move your hands towards the snatch lockout position for which you need to perform a quick quarter squat for generating sufficient momentum. You can use whatever kind of snatch method that you think is compatible you’re your stamina levels but the goal should be to snatch the bar overhead and then catch it in the traditional snatch position.

Ensure that throughout this exercise your shoulder blades are moving towards each other and the bar should be located over your head and your ankles should be positioned straight under the bar. As soon as you attain this stance, execute a quick squat, all the while keeping the bar in a vertical position. Ensure that the bar eventually ends behind your head, i.e. when you are in the hole of the exercise and the shoulder blades should still be pinched together. Now as you stand up you would have completed one rep but don’t dare to drop the loaded until you have finished the set. Repeatedly, dropping the bar can use more energy than what is recommended just to get positioned for a set.

5. Lateral Dumbbell Side Raises

Lateral Dumbbell Side Raises are among the best of shoulder exercises for those who want to develop some serious muscle definition among their deltoids. However, this exercise is not mean for everyone, particularly not beginners. It is more recommended for folks who are looking for ways to further carve the overall shape of their shoulders and is thus preferred by seasoned bodybuilders. This exercise is regarded as the best for further defining the deltoids and inducing caps on the shoulders. Please note that this is not a compound exercise in any way. It is more like a distant equivalent of doing dumbbell curls using the shoulder muscles. This exercise is more ideally suited for those into bodybuilding than those who are seeking to increase their power-lifting performance such as those who are into strongman training or into serious, Olympic lifting.

Executing Lateral Dumbbell Side Raises

You need to stand up, holding a pair of dumbbells in your hands, with your arms pointing straight downwards, i.e. to the side. You need to focus upon using the maximum part of the medial delts, i.e. the side portion of the shoulders. Now, slowly lower both the dumbbells, slowing backing them down but not in such a way that neither your arms touch the thighs nor the weights hit your thighs. Ensure that your arms are never perpendicular to the floor—this is central to maintaining the tension among your shoulders. There are some basic variations when attempting Lateral Dumbbell Side Raises including the one-arm and cable-side Lateral Dumbbell Side Raises.

The Best Chest Exercises

Looking for the best chest exercises to add to your workout? Here are the five best I could find, and I use two in my own workouts. Here they are:

1. The Barbell Bench Press

The bench press is regarded as the undisputed leader among all chest exercises. Amongst the various types and variations of bench presses, the flat barbell bench press has been regarded as the benchmark for the strength or prowess. If a handful of exercises have to be chosen for creating the most effective full body workout or multi workout split, the Flat Barbell Bench Press is regarded as perhaps the best choice. This is why the bench press is recommended as the core exercise for those competing in 3 power-lifting competitions. People tend to use a large number of variations when attempting the flat barbell bench press. Among these, the close-grip barbell bench press is regarded as the ideal exercise for developing your inner chest and the triceps. The same variation done with a wider grip is the chosen exercise for developing chest muscles, i.e. pectoralis range of muscles. The other variation is the middle-grip bench-press is used for simultaneously developing strength of the pectorals, triceps and shoulders and is regarded as the standard for testing ones’ ability to execute bench-press.

Setting-Up: The Bench Press

You should ideally start with finding a location wherein the floor is uniform and flat. The best tool to set-up base for executing the bench press is using the flat Olympic bench. This is the standard bench that is recommended when using the 45-pound barbell. You need to lie down flat on this bench. Your soles should be firmly planted on the floor. The idea is to get a solid base where the legs can be used for driving the body weight upwards. You should ensure that your butt and the upper back along with the head should be pressed against the bench during the movement. Also, ensure that when setting-up the equipment, you start by un-racking the bar so that it drops directly towards the chest. Please note that you don’t have to do a barbell pull-over since this can induce fatigue apart from raising the possibility of incurring shoulder injuries.

Benching Correctly!

The best way to attempt this exercise is to use the medium grip and a flat bench press for which the elbows should be tightly tucked-in. The elbows should be at an angle of 45 degrees, i.e. away from the body, and should be locked against the shoulders for greater stabilization, particularly towards the bottom of the repetitions. When in the unracked position, you need to lower the weights rather slowly—this ensures that the bar just about above the chest area. The bar shouldn’t bounce off the chest. While executing the repetition, you have to use the most explosive kind of chest strength for which you should be driving the loaded bar through mid area of your rep. The midpoint can be understood as the sticking point of the rep or the core positioning of the rep. You should concentrate more on increasing your strength when you are beyond the mid-way point. This will ensure that the triceps are activated to the maximum level and the pressing of the loaded bar is appropriate. Please note that the elbows should not be locked entirely, instead the elbows should be locked at around 95% to ensure straightness of the elbows. The other way of maximizing the triceps is to focus more upon the bar when it is about half away in the upward movement. The best strategy is to hold the bar straight and in front of the body with the palms facing down. When moving the bar, you should snap both the forearms and the wrists away from mid-section of the body.

Bench-Press Variations

There are many ways of attempting the Bench-Press. This includes the wide-grip, narrow-grip, medium-grip, board press and floor press apart from the very demanding pin press Bench-Press variations. Most bodybuilders tend to prefer the incline press that is regarded as the best exercise for developing the upper pecs. All these variations promise to develop the overall chest muscles, all the while helping to establish deep cuts among the upper and lower muscles. The idea is to use the Bench-Press as a part of powerful bodybuilding schedule.

Controversial Bench-Press Methods

The least talked about variation in the niche of Bench-Press is the decline bench press that is often looked upon the ideal way of targeting the lower pecs. This is more of a delusion created by some bodybuilding fanatics. The fact is that there are no lower pec muscles. The chest comprises of the pectoralis minor that is the upper pec and the pectoralis major that forms the mid or the lower pec muscle group but actually these two muscle groups are fused together. Thus, there is no way in which the lower pecs can be targeted. Most bench pressing people are stronger when doing the decline benching since the range of motion is shorter and thus, easier. This eliminates the weakness emanating from the bottom end of the benching position that is the bane of most people attempting the press.

2. The Dumbbell Bench Press

This is the easier and core form of Bench Press. Here, doing the flat dumbbell bench press is the easiest, i.e. using two freely held dumbbells that help to raise the core chest mass and strength. This is also the ideal way of correcting any strength imbalances that might have been created between two sides of the body. Dumbbell Bench Press also allows more acute pressing and helps to concentrate the weight towards the mid-section of the body.

Executing: The Dumbbell Bench Press

Setting-up the dumbbell Bench Press is rather easy since the bar is eliminated. Instead, you need to lie on a flat bench wherein your feet our touching the floor. The best way to take-up the dumbbells is to pick them close to the chest and then sit slowly on the bench. You don’t need to master this maneuver since the movement is quite relaxed wherein the weight is raised above your eyes without creating too much pressure on the mid-section. Thus, spotting is not usually needed when attempting this variation. Please note that each rep actually ends when the dumbbells lightly touch the shoulders. Some people don’t usually advocate creating the full range of motion when using heavy dumbbells. However, this is a wrong approach since the dumbbell Bench Press is perfectly suited for testing your benching strength without the risk of being harmed by an injury. The range of variations here include everything from flat and decline to incline dumbbell Bench Presses. Further, variations can be created using different types of grips like close, wide and medium. The medium grip helps to keep intact the integrity of the shoulders and induce sufficient pressure on the rotator cuffs, helping to work-out the shoulder muscles.

3. Explosive Push Ups

This is the most useful exercise for developing more explosive power across the chest area along with working-out the shoulders and triceps. The two most used methods in this include the clapping push-ups and plyometric push-ups. These methods include jumping with hands onto an object when doing a rep. however, plyopush-ups are regarded as the most accepted and admired variation in this segment. Get started by testing whether you are stronger in the knuckles or palms, i.e. since these are the two choices for executing the push-ups and also the points that would set-up a push-up. When lying down on a flat floor, your body should be positioned in a straight line where it should be touching the floor only along the toes and hands.

Executing: Explosive Push Ups

There are many opinions regarding how to position the head when executing pushups. During explosive pushups, you are essentially jumping up an object and thus, you don’t need to look down but ideally, you should be ready to look upwards or forwards when attempting push-ups. Ideally, your hands should not be placed more than 3 inches further away from the realm of your shoulder’s width. Remember, the closer are your hands, more likely are you to turn your triceps into strapping muscular sections. When attempting explosive push-ups for the first time, you can use a slightly wider positioning of the hands. For placing your hands, you can use anything ranging from hardcover books to weighted plates or wooden block where you can find similarly-sized two pieces of the same object. Place either of these objects besides each of the hands. You can raise the height of these supporting objects once you gain some level of control over your bodily movement and your body becomes accustomed to the effort involved in squeezing reps.

The starting position should be as low as possible. This means as close to the ground as possible but without allowing the chest to touch the floor. The floor should be minimally in contact with the chin, legs and belly. The maximum force is required in raising the body upwards, i.e. towards the roof and the movement exudes lots of pressure when making a slower rep since the elbows are extended fully and this requires 100% force that is required for propelling the body into the air. This helps to execute a clap that is the most usual method for attempting an explosive push-up. The clap should be quick so that you land on the floor without much delay. This also means that you have sufficient to prepare for the next rep. After each pylo-pushup, you can either move your hands back along the starting position and prepare in a more relaxed manner for the next rep or descend straight into another rep without resting at all. Apart from clapping, other variations include hopping or using your palms and knuckles for punching them together instead of the clap. You can alternate the height of the descent by using boxes of different heights, use alternating arms and alternate between the incline & decline format apart from using the super-wide, narrow and the elevated-leg variation.

4. Chest Dips

This exercise can be understood as the triceps-heavy version of all the chest-centric exercises. The chest dips resemble what can be accomplished with the decline bench pressing but here you are more focused on building triceps rather than focusing upon the chest muscles or the pecs. You should consider your inherent shoulder strength for attempting Chest Dips since it induces a great deal of exertion along the entire shoulder area.

Executing Chest Dips

For setting up the Chest Dips, you need to get started with a dip station. You need to grab a weighted belt and heavy plates for this although you can also use a dumbbell. You need to start at the very top wherein your arms are fully extended. The objective here is to lean a bit forward so that the tension is maintained along the pecs rather than the triceps. You need to dip or descend until the upper arms are almost parallel to the floor. You can go even lower if your shoulders don’t hurt. Don’t try to bounce off your shoulders or create a thrust using your hips. Just pause for a second when rising again for which you need to squeeze your pecs along with extending your triceps to the maximum.

Chest Dips Variations

Variations in this niche include assisted and bodyweight-based Chest Dips apart from weighted dips. You can use dipping stations of different kinds since each has different types of handles that helps to either narrow or widen your hands along with raising your body in an upright position either by focusing upon the chest or the triceps.

5. Dumbbell Flyes

Dumbbell Flyes are perhaps the most effective form of chest exercises. It fills every requirement that is expected from a chest workout and is in fact, the key to sustaining growth of the pecs along with combining greater flexibility that is an essential requirement of bodybuilding. Variations in this niche include flyes with dumbbells or those that are done with cables apart from other variations that change the angular position and some people even do it on an incline bench. Dumbbell Flyes can also be executed in the standing or leaning position, using the cables. Dumbbell Flyes should be done towards the end of your chest workout rather than at the start. This is because when done with heavily weighted dumbbells, it can seriously lengthen the recovery period that might eat into your remaining chest exercises. This is also the best way to use your already sore pecs into a growth-inducing, free-weight exercise.

Executing: Dumbbell Flyes

Setting-up Dumbbell Flyes is not really difficult since you need to assume a position that is quite similar to the flat or inclined version of the dumbbell bench press, i.e. you need to hold one dumbbell, slightly curved towards each other, in each hand and ensure that the dumbbells are raised at the very top position—above your chest, a bit close to the base of the chin. The movement includes pressing the weights towards each other, i.e. in an overhead manner. When the weights are extended fully overhead, try to keep your arms straight. You can allow some room for a rather small bend along the elbow. Lower the dumbbells out to the sides using each arm, simultaneously, ensuring that there are no sudden movements or jerks. When you are at the bottom position with your arms, the arms should be almost parallel to the floor. Here, you need to pause for just a second or two to allow yourself enough recovery to pull the weights back into the overhead position. Throughout this movement, your elbows shouldn’t move much. At the peak of the overhead position, your arms should be almost straight, i.e. as close as being to perpendicular with just a few degrees of relaxation allowed.

Use at least two to three of the above chest exercises in your routine.

The Best Hamstring Exercises

If you want to build your hamstring muscles, either for strength or in the case of women, to tone the thighs and buttocks, here are the best hamstring exercises. All of these exercises are based around the barbell deadlift; which is, hands down, the number one exercise for hamstring growth.

1. Barbell Deadlifts

Deadlifts are a fundamental exercise that engages nearly all musculature or range of motion among the legs. Deadlifts are also called a core exercise by some folks since they need functional stability from the surrounding muscles. When done with proper form, Deadlifts work efficiently towards making you stronger and exhausting more calories than any other leg-centric exercise.

Doing Your Deadlifts Right

The barbell should be resting on the floor. The barbell shouldn’t be moving due to any depressions on the ground or slope of the surface and it shouldn’t be placed over a material that tends to make the barbell slip from its original position. You should be standing in such a manner that the barbell is just above your toe joints and positioned right in front of the shins. Check your stance by evaluating your shoulders. Your legs should be stretched apart as much as your shoulder width. Now, bend your knees a bit to grab the barbell.

Starting with a lighter load is recommended since Deadlifts can be rather demanding for first-timers. Take care when you are bending your knees. When reaching down, the knees should be within the spread of your elbows. This stance helps to lift more weight without inducing too much pressure on the lower back and avoids risk of causing any injury. Besides the conventional grip, you can use the alternate grip. Here, one hand is facing your chest, i.e. in the pronated position and the other hand is facing downwards, i.e. in the supinated position.

As you try to lift the bar off the floor, use your entire body to do so and not just your arms or your hips. Take care of keeping your arms straight and the knees slightly bent. Deadlifts are perhaps the only exercise besides a weighted squat that tend to engage such a wide group of muscles including that of the hips and legs apart from the glutes, the lower back and the arm. Ensure that your back is not in a curved position. This can cause an injury and is the major reason why many people struggle with heavy Deadlifts. The appropriate stance can be easily achieved if you keep your head up and use your hips to push your body up. Most critically, keep the bar close to your body as you attempt the lift. As you rise further and enter a more straightened position, don’t try to hyper-extend. This means that you shouldn’t jerk as you are lifting as this can induce damage on the lower back. Remember, you need a regulated thrust to complete the Deadlift and not an abrupt push.

Use these variations in your workouts, either on different days if you do a multi-day split or as part of your lower body workout. You can pair these up with the best leg exercises to completely workout the lower body.

2. Stiff Leg Deadlifts

These are a very comprehensive and the most traditional way of executing Deadlifts. This variation is best recommended to those into mass-building regimens, particularly for the hamstrings. The set-up is similar to traditional Deadlifts. However, the feet should be positioned in a slightly narrower stance. Here, the knees should be bent and spread within the width of the shoulder. The reason for this stance is to reduce the load on the lower back. Thus, the driving force comes from the glutes and hips. Ideally, the hips should be the fulcrum of the body movement.

3. Romanian Deadlifts

A rather popular variation of the common Deadlift, this is a completed hamstring exercise. This variation allows bending of the knees a bit more than the usual, to ensure greater comfort when lifting heavily loaded barbells. The Romanian Deadlift does reduce the workout effect on the hamstrings but it raises the safety for the lower back and is particularly recommended to those who are working-out around a history of back problems.

4. Glutes Hamstring Raise

This is perhaps the least known of all Deadlift variations. It is used mainly in traditional power-lifting circles. As the name suggests, this deviation of the conventional Deadlift ensures that the glutes are worked upon extensively. It helps to raise the muscle mass across the entire lower back area. This Deadlift option is reserved for the more experienced lifters and not novices. To attempt this exercise, you need to lock your ankles. This means using an object like an Ab-Bench where you can lock-in your ankles. You have to position yourself face down while doing so and place some shock-absorbent material like wet towels under the knees. With the feet fastened, ensure that the knees are kept bent at around 90 degrees. Ideally, you should be kneeling halfway on the floor. As you lower your upper body on to the floor, you will realize that the load is immense across the glutes and you would need to engage the hamstrings to drag yourself back into the kneeling position.

5. Plate Drags

You should start by holding on to something stable like the lower end of a gym machine as you lie down on a gym mat. Now, start by extending the legs fully and place your heel within a weight plate, i.e. in the hole of the plate. Gradually, try to slide the plate towards yourself. This induces contractions in the hamstrings, creating a great workout for the legs. While doing so, the opposite leg should be kept extended. This is like mimicking a leg curl but the movement is more controlled.

6. Good Morning Deadlifts

This is the more radical variation in the traditional Deadlift since the barbell is rested on the upper back. This means that the traps and deltoids muscles are also engaged. However, ensure that the barbell is not sitting on the spine or the neck. Holding the bar a bit lower, i.e. in the power-lifting style, is the recommended choice here. The head and the back should be as straight as possible. The bend should come at the waist with the knees locked-in and bent minimally. This essentially means that the upper body is just about parallel to the floor. Good Mornings are not recommended to gym beginners due to the workload they induce on the entire posterior region of the body.

7. Stand-up Leg Curls

Essentially a free standing variation of the machine-based leg curl, here you are required to do the lying leg curl albeit when standing up and by using one leg at a time. This exercise might have started as a substitute for lack of leg curl machines in gyms but it is now recommended to all those who want to increase the muscle tone in their legs.

 

The Best Leg Exercises

These are five of the best leg exercises you can add to your workout routine, to build and strengthen those leg muscles.

1. Barbell Back Squats (also known as Full Squats)

Squats have traditionally been recommended to the serious, gym-devoted crowd since they engage nearly 100% of the musculature in the legs and lower limbs. Doing Back Squats means that maintaining functional stability is vital. This in turn translates into engaging nearly 95% of the body’s muscles for maintaining the right posture. With proper form, Back Squats work very well towards gaining more muscle and developing an overall, stronger frame apart from helping to burn more calories.

Setting-up: Barbell Back Squats

The barbell should be resting on the upper back, i.e. on the trapezius muscles and shoulders or the deltoid muscles. The idea is not to position the bar on the spine or neck. Bodybuilders are prone to setting-up the barbell much higher whereas power-lifters tend to grip the bar a bit lower. The power-lifting stance is more recommendable. This allows in keeping the head in a firmer, straighter stance and keeps the chest higher during the squat. This also reduces the stress on the neck and back. While executing the squat, remember to keep your abs tight and the head titled upwards. The chest should be puffed outwards and the knees a bit behind the toes. During the bottom part of completing the squat, the thighs should be positioned parallel to the floor. When coming upwards from the squat, the main objective should be to keep the chest up and the head back while the hips should give the momentum to the entire body movement. A properly-executed squat should be tiring, inducing a feeling of literally humping the air since the hip-centered thrust needs to powerful and energy-sapping.

2. Barbell Front Squats

Barbell Front Squats are quite similar to back squats. However, there is one, basic difference, i.e. the bar is placed along the front section of the shoulders. This means that the bar is resting on the anterior deltoids. This exercise engages the shoulder muscles more than the back muscles. There are two, common ways of executing this squat:

Basic Front Squat Position—here, the bar is lifted and placed on the shoulders as soon as it is lifted from the squat rack. For this, using proper arm extension is vital. You need to ensure that the arms are extended-out straight with the palms facing down. This is ideal way to grasp the bar. At the time of lifting the bar, your elbows should be pointing outwards, straight and slightly elevated. This helps to maintain the bar in the required position.

Alternative Front Squat Stance—this is called the Olympic style of executing a squat wherein the squat is finished in a mode, called the ‘high hang’. This means that the bat should still be seated on the upper chest with the fingers positioned underneath the bar. Here, the grip of fingers is in the shape of a hook with the elbows pointed upwards. This stance is recommended to those with strong fingers and wrists.

3. Barbell Lunges

Lunges are considered among the three, most effective exercises for the lower limbs, particularly the legs. Lunges are counted next to deadlifting, just behind squats. It has been observed that women are most likely to execute their lunges with dumbbells, using their bodyweight in a minimal way with the aim of toning their body. On the other hand, the more dedicated weight-trainers and weightlifters consider barbell lunges as a necessity for shaping the legs along with increasing the lifting prowess of legs.

Getting the Lunge Right!

The starting position is almost similar to the one discussed above for executing a good squat. This essentially means that you need to keep the barbell rested on the upper back. Alternatively, you can use dumbbells instead of a weighted bar. The lunge can be conducted in one way only, i.e. the one foot should move forward with the other foot back. This requires proper positioning of the knees. The knees should be bent with the lunged or forward-bending thigh being parallel to the ground. The rear knee should be pointing downwards. The most common variation to this kind of conventional lunge is the stepping lunge. Here, you can either lunge forward using one foot or step forward using one foot as the movement-inducing body part. Either of these lunges when done alternatively, i.e. by using alternative feet for moving backwards or ahead, becomes a walking lunge. The conventional lunge is also called the stationary lunges since it involves no stepping. The other variation is the Bulgarian Split Squat. Here, you have to place your rear foot on an elevated object like a bench. Thus, the movement becomes split and this is why, this variation is also called a Split Squat. These squats are ideally meant for those who want to focus on developing their quadriceps and overall, lower body stability. Remember, while trying-out any of these variations, you should keep your body vertical, i.e. upright.

4. Barbell Step -Up

Step-ups can be interpreted as a variation of the lunge. These too are essentially leg exercises that are both functional cum performance-enhancing exercise. This is because Step-ups mimic bodily movements that work towards increasing the overall postural stabilization across a wider range of motion.

Getting Your Step-ups Right!

You need to get started in the same way you set yourself for executing a squat. Ensure that the bar is firmly pressed on the upper back area. The most recommended items to serve as the elevation medium is a bench or a gym stool. Ensure you use a box that is sturdy. It is always better to get started with a slightly shorter box and increase its height gradually. The box should be heavy enough to support your weight. The other option is to use dumbbells that help to strengthen the grip in a better manner. It is better to get started with lighter weights in the dumbbell step-up as compared to the barbell step-up since the dumbbell variation tends to induce more stress on the grip.

The starting posture of the step-up is similar to that of a lunge but here, you need to make sure that the heel is rested firmly on the box. You need to use your legs and not the hips to propel the body weight upwards. During the step-up, the rear foot should be up and move on to the box. The second leg is used for stepping down. Most beginners cannot distribute their weight evenly on the second leg through the range of motion and end-up with restricted motion. The idea should be to keep the knee and thighs as high as possible and in front of the body. Once, you can go higher up in this posture, the step-up seems more like a kick. This variation is called the high knee kick step-up that is often referred to as merely ‘high knees’. This form of step-up is used mostly by the sprinting athletes.

Women trying the step-up are recommended to use some additional exercises that can aid developing their strength that is used for doing step-ups on a consistent basis and with increasing weight range. Women are recommended to use additional exercises like shoulder presses, dumbbell curls and shoulder raises for increasing their overall body conditioning that aid in executing better, more controlled step-ups.

5. Sprints

Sprints are among the most recommended of gym exercises particularly for those who want to improve their cardiovascular fitness along with increasing their functional muscle mass. The basic reason is that Sprints is both an anaerobic and aerobic exercise regimen rolled into one. Among all the other exercises mentioned here, Sprints are perhaps the most active in terms of engaging a wider group of muscles and help to increase the quad muscles dramatically. This is why Sprints is recommended to all those who tend to indulge in exercises that required more, lower-body power and where serious lifting is required. Thus, Sprints is found among all kinds of power-lifting routines. Sprints can be executed in a normal manner or in the form of speed training. They help to tone and raise the muscle mass throughout the legs. They tend to induce such intensive contractions that coordinated muscle movement and engagement of all the bigger, lower body muscles becomes rather necessary.

Executing Sprints

Try to use a more natural surface for trying Sprints, such as grass or a track, i.e. any place outside the gym where there are no space restrictions. The surface should not be too hard and shouldn’t be uneven in a manner that it can hurt you. For performing sprints, you would be using your legs and arms to drive the maximum effort. Start by pumping the arms from the front to back. This helps to increase the momentum. On every step, the knees should be lifted high. This means that the quads should be almost parallel to the surface below, i.e. more parallel when compared to the posture required for executing squats or lunges. Wearing sprint-friendly, athletic footwear is a must. Interval sprinting requires more effort in shorter bouts. You can alternate it with walking rigorously rather than allowing your muscles to cool down and lose their stretched state.

Such exercises are best used when they are blended into a workout. This refers to creating a full-body workout regimen where exercises like sprints or squats are combined with a comprehensive upper body training regimen. The emphasis should be to choose only one such rigorous lower body exercise, each day. Overdoing such exercises can lower your optimal performance and impede the results apart from inducing the risk of over-training.

 

Decline Dumbbell Flyes

Decline Dumbbell Flyes

Decline Dumbbell Flyes are the best way to build up the lower inner chest. And in building up those areas, you give the chest area the well rounded and complete look.

Equipment
Free standing decline bench, dumbbells (of a suitable weight)

Preparation

As described in the figure, lie on your back on the free standing decline bench with your feet under the leg brace. Take a dumbbell in each hand and extend your elbows in a slightly bent position with your palms facing each.

Execution
Step 1 – Lower the dumbbells to your sides as shown in the figure while keeping your elbows fixed in that bent position. A stretch in your pectoral (chest) muscles will indicate whether or not you are executing this move correctly or not.
Step 2 – Push the dumbbells in an upward motion to bring back to the starting position, and when you bring both dumbbells together, squeeze your chest muscles. Think of yourself as a tree-hugging nature lover while executing the upward motion.
Step 3 – Repeat Step 1 & Step 2 for as many repetitions as possible until you cannot do anymore or based on your trainer’s recommendations.

Notes
1. Remember to keep your elbows slightly bent throughout the exercise.
2. Lower the dumbbells (as with all exercises) in a slow and controlled manner.
3. Whatever you do, don’t hold your breath for any kind of weight training but always take a deep breath before executing each repetition of the exercise.
4. Another option is while you are preparing to execute the exercise, you can have the spotter (your trainer, maybe) hand you the dumbbells when you get into position. Especially if the weights used are heavy.

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