Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Break the Muscle Barrier
Break the Muscle Barrier
By Craig Ballantyne, M.S., C.S.C.S., Men's Health
The most popular exercise of all time could be holding you back. Sure, the bench press has helped you build your chest and arms. But the more often you return to the bench without mixing up your routine, the more muscle you might be missing out on. That's because your body adapts quickly to the same old routine, stalling your progress.
Simply trying any new exercise can rejuvenate your workout, igniting growth and curing boredom. But we'll spot you eight great new moves. These movements aren't particularly exotic. (Read: You won't be embarrassed to do them in a crowded gym.) They are, in fact, variations on classic, old-school muscle builders, including the bench press. And they are highly effective.
So swap a couple of these moves into your current lifting routine. Or scrap your old workout altogether and combine all eight exercises into one total-body training session. The result: more muscle built faster than ever.
Rejuvenate your workout with exercises that will ignite growth and cure boredom.
Your All-New Workout
Do each pair of exercises as a superset, completing one set of each movement before resting. So you'll do 1a and follow immediately with 1b. That's a superset. Rest 1 minute and then repeat. Do each superset three times before moving to the next pair. Do this workout three times a week, resting a day between bouts.
SET - EXERCISE - REPETITIONS
1a - Dumbbell Split Jerk - 6 per side
1b - Swiss-Ball Mountain Climber - 10 per side
2a - Front-Loaded Bulgarian Split Squat - 8 per side
2b - Dumbbell Close Grip Floor Press - 8
3a - Dumbbell Swing - 12
3b - Decline Spider-Man Pushup - 8 per side
4a - Single-Leg Deadlift - 10 per side
4b - Underhand Inverted Row - 15
1a - Dumbbell Split Jerk
The benefit: Strengthens your shoulders and develops explosive upper-body power for sports
Swap it for: The military press
How to do it: Stand holding a dumbbell in one hand, just above shoulder height. Brace your abs as if you were preparing to withstand a blow to your gut. Next, in one explosive movement, press the weight overhead while moving your feet into a split position - one foot forward, the other foot back. Step back to the start and repeat. Finish all your reps with one arm before switching sides.
1b - Swiss-Ball Mountain Climber
The benefit: Trains your core - abs, lower back, and hips - while stabilizing your shoulder joints
Swap it for: Any ab exercise
How to do it: Assume the classic pushup position but place your hands on the sides of a Swiss ball, fingers pointing forward. Brace your abs and straighten your legs behind you. This is the starting position. Lift one foot off the floor and bring your knee toward your chest. Straighten your leg back out, move your other knee to your chest, and return that leg to the starting position. Keep alternating sides until you've completed all your repetitions.
2a - Front-Loaded Bulgarian Split Squat
The benefit: Builds lower-body strength and power and trains your core harder than standard split squats do.
Swap it for: The leg extension
How to do it: Stand a couple of feet in front of a bench, holding a dumbbell, weight plate, or medicine ball with both hands at your chest. Rest the top of one foot behind you on the bench. Keeping your back straight and your torso upright, lower your body until your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Push back up to a standing position. Do all your reps with one leg before repeating with your other leg.
2b - Dumbbell Close-Grip Floor Press
The benefit: Boosts upper-body pressing power by minimizing momentum, and it's easier on your shoulders than a standard bench press
Swap it for: The bench press
How to do it: Grab a pair of dumbbells and lie on the floor with your legs straight. Hold the weights with a neutral grip (palms facing each other), with your upper arms flat on the floor and your forearms pointing straight up. Squeeze your abs, pull your shoulder blades back, and press the weight up. Keep your elbows tucked in at your sides as you lower the weight.
3a - Dumbbell Swing
The benefit: Strengthens your hips and hamstrings in an explosive fashion, which can add inches to your vertical jump; improves overall conditioning.
Swap it for: The leg curl
How to do it: Stand with your feet more than shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell with a hand-over-hand grip and your arms hanging down in front of you. Push your hips back and lower the weight between your legs until it's under your butt. Drive back up to a standing position and swing the weight up to chest height, keeping your arms straight. Go right into your next rep and continue at a swift pace.
3b - Decline Spider-Man Pushup
The benefit: Strengthens your upper body and increases mobility in the hips and shoulders, which often become stiff in men.
Swap it for: The standard pushup or the chest fly
How to do it: Assume the classic pushup position but place your feet on a bench. Keeping your abs braced and your body in a straight line, slowly bend your elbows until your chest is a few inches from the floor. As you go down, bring your right knee to your right elbow. Straighten your leg back out as you use your chest, shoulders, and triceps to push yourself back to the starting position. Alternate legs.
4a - Single-Leg Deadlift
The benefit: Strengthens your entire lower body and improves balance
Swap it for: The lunge
How to do it: Stand with your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Raise one foot and extend it behind you, just off the floor. Contract your glutes, brace your abs, and keep your spine naturally arched. Focusing on balance, lower yourself until your torso is parallel to the floor. Initiate the movement by pushing your hips back. Push back up to the starting position, and complete all your reps before switching legs.
4b - Underhand Inverted Row
The benefit: Builds your back and biceps and bolsters your grip
Swap it for: The arm curl or the seated row
How to do it: Set a bar at hip height in a Smith machine or squat rack. Lie underneath the bar with your heels on the floor and grab the bar with an underhand grip (palms facing you), your hands 1 or 2 inches more than shoulder-width apart. Keeping your body in a straight line, pull your chest up to the bar using your back muscles. Slowly lower yourself until your arms are straight.
Photographs by Tim Tadder, Men's Health
Provided by Men's Health
Labels: Exercise Tips