Some of the best exercises and intensity techniques you can do are ones you may have never heard of or may not use in your routines. These are exercises and techniques that can give you a huge boost in your efforts to build mass.
We all know that variety in your training is one of the keys to building muscle, all of the following examples will allow you to mix up your routines a bit and spark some new growth. So, do something different and give these exercises and techniques a try, you'll be glad you did!
This is an exercise that's been getting a lot of press lately, and for good reason: it's a power movement that is right up there with the squat and deadlift in terms of how it affects the whole body, and it should be right up there in terms of how often it's used.
Exercises like this one and the squat and deadlift that are said to promote overall growth, do so because they cause the body to release greater amounts of anabolic hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone, and because they effectively work so many muscles.
Like squats and deads, it's a very taxing exercise when done correctly. Proper form is essential with this exercise, take the time to study the technique, work it with an empty bar to get the feel, add weight slowly.
To do this exercise: squat down, take hold of the bar with an overhand grip, about shoulder width apart, like you were about to do a deadlift. Driving with the legs, lift or pull the bar straight up to about shoulder height, then tuck the elbows in and under as if you were about to start a military press.
To lower, simply reverse the procedure, taking the bar back to the floor. All of this should be one quick, explosive movement, but I would do it slowly until your form is perfect. If you are unsure about it, watch an exercise description video like the one BB.com has for this exercise.
Power Clean & Press:
This is performed just like a power clean but now you're working the delts directly because once you've cleaned the bar, you press it over head for one rep, with every clean, you press the bar once. Good for the shoulders, but you have to use a little less weight which detracts from this exercise being as great a whole body movement as standard power cleans.
Tricep EZ Bar Lying Ext/Pullover/Close Grip Press (Tri-Set):
This one is absolutely a killer! You do three exercises back to back, no rest at all. Using an EZ bar, start by doing lying skull-crushers on a flat bench, except bring the bar behind your head; bring it up 3/4 of the way.
Do 8 reps; go right into pullovers, keeping your elbows close to your head. Do 8 reps. Now, finish with 8 reps of close grip bench presses. Try this one for 6 weeks and see what it does!
Drag Curls (This Is A Vince Gironda Exercise):
In this movement, you pull or drag the bar up along your body, using an underhand grip, as high as you can and lower the same way. Doing it in this manner keeps constant tension on your arms. This differs from the standard barbell (or EZ bar) curl in that, with the standard version, the resistance drops off in the last part of the exercise.
This version also differs from other versions that have you using an overhand grip, which makes it more of a forearm exercise and less of a biceps exercise. The drag curl was Gironda's attempt to improve on the barbell curl, one of many unusual exercises he came up with in his attempts to improve standard exercises.
Behind the back shrug movement made popular by Lee Haney. This variation lets you get a little more range of motion and Gives a different feel than the standard shrug. Not all that popular since Big Lee's time.
Remember this Arnold variation on dumbbell shoulder presses? This is where you rotate the hands as you press the bells. You start with the back of your hands facing out; rotate as you press so at the top, your fingers are facing out. Lower and reverse the rotation.
Reverse Grip Bent Rows As A Biceps Exercise:
Popularized by Dorian Yates as a back exercise. This hits the biceps hard because of the underhand grip and makes more sense to use as a biceps exercise. Using this as a biceps exercise lets you use a little more weight than you can use in curls, thereby putting more stress on the muscle.
Yates used 405 lbs. on this as a back exercise and tore his biceps because of how directly it hits that muscle. If you use a weight that's within the ability of the biceps to handle, you have a great biceps movement. Keep your elbows close to your body as you do this and pull with your biceps, not your lats.
Flat Bench Cable Curl (Like A Preacher With A Flat Pad):
Sit on the floor, put your arms across a flat bench so your elbows just hang off, you should have a nice stretch in the biceps, then perform a regular curl. Hold at the top for a two count. Don't try to use too much weight on this.
You should really feel this in the belly of the muscle. This exercise is similar to the spider curl, another Vince Gironda variation of a regular exercise, in this case the preacher curl. With that exercise, you're basically straightening the angle of the pad by hanging over the front of it, this movement does the same thing but the body angle is different.
Seated Curls To Standing Curls To Reverse Grip Bent Rows:
This does for biceps what the tricep tri-set does for tris. Seated curls are really a partial movement but are difficult to do when you use a heavy enough weight. Shoot for 8 reps. Go right to standing EZ curls with he same bar, again shooting for 8. It's ok to cheat on only the last 1-2 reps, if needed. Put the bar down; begin doing reverse grip bent rows, again going for 8.
One Day Blitz:
- 2 sets of squats and deads done every hour for 8 hours
- 2 sets of power cleans done every 1/2 hour for 8 hours
Not just for arms - how about a full body blitz? I'm talking setting it up the same as the one day arm blitz except you do exercises like squats, deads and power cleans, and you shoot for 8 hours not 9 or 12 as with the arm blitz. Despite all the current hype over these types of blitz routines - I've seen 2 or 3 arm blitz articles lately plus the MT arm blitz ads - this concept is not at all new.
In fact, I first heard about the arm blitz in the late 80's. This approach was something I first heard of in 1991. How would you set this up?
First, The Routine:
That's 2 working sets after 1-2 warm-ups, and that's using a heavy enough weight to just allow 8-10 reps. This is tough and you tire quickly, which may mean dropping poundage's as the day goes on. You may find you have to drop to 1 working set of each exercise about half way through the day.
You should be in a cycle of NO/Creatine already; I would take at least one extra dose of each during the day, and 1-2 doses of your pre-workout drink. I would take in small servings of protein powder with a simple carb every 1 1/2 hours. Bearing in mind the type of exercises you'll be doing, you don't want to have too much on your stomach.
I would definitely eat well the day before, and I would allow at least one day off of everything, including work after you're done with this and think nothing but recovery: lots of protein and carbs, supplements and rest.
Rest Pause Variations:
Rest pause style training really came into it's own as a Mike Mentzer popularized intensity technique back in the late 70's - early 80's. My understanding and use of this has always been to simply complete a set, when you hit failure, rack the bar, count to 8, unrack the bar and do as many reps as you can, re-rack the bar, doing this 3-4 times for one unreal, super intense set.
The main way to use this technique the way Mentzer did, as I understand it, is to warm up, take your max weight and do 1 rep, rack the bar, count to 10, and proceed to do 1 more rep, re-rack the bar, count to 10 and so on until you hit 8-10 reps. Following are several other variations on this technique (warm-up before using these techniques):
Use 75% of your current max poundage for the number of reps you plan to do in a normal set of your chosen exercise. Example - if you bench press 225 for 10, use 170 lbs. Do 10 reps, rest 10 seconds, do 9 reps, rest 10 seconds; do 8 reps and so on to 1 rep.
Determine a poundage you can do 10 reps of your chosen exercise with. Add 10% more weight to the bar - not 10 lbs, 10 % more weight. Do 6 sets of 10 reps. After the first set, rest 15 seconds. After each remaining set, add 15 seconds rest. Add more weight when the 6 sets of 10 seems easy.
Using a weight that allows 3 reps of your chosen exercise, do 1 rep, rack the bar for a 10 count, do 2 reps, rack the bar for a 10 count and so on until you hit 10 reps.
Everyone knows about pre exhaust training - where you "pre-fatigue" a muscle by doing an isolation exercise first than follow with a compound exercise. While I like and have used this effective technique, I've always felt you lose something if you with it.
Let's face it, if you pre fatigue your chest, as an example, with flyes or the pec dec, you can't use as much weight on your bread and butter mass builder - the bench press. The post exhaust is the reverse - do the heavy, compound exercise first when you are strongest, follow it with an isolation exercise.
This allows you to continue training the muscle by falling back to a lighter, easier exercise, it also allows you to extend the set for more intensity and it lets you do your mass builder first thereby letting you use more weight.
Post-Exhaust Super Drops:
A variation on the above where, along with the superset, you do 3-4 drop sets. This is all one set! Super - intense!
These are just a few examples of intensity techniques and unusual exercises that you can benefit from. At one time, it was common to find info on this type of thing, many of the books that some of these ideas came from are now out of print. The magazines don't quite cover this kind of thing much anymore either.
Yet, these are techniques you can benefit from - increased intensity can equal increased results. New and different exercises gives your body something it's not used to, this to can mean new results. Give these a try and see how they work for you.