Looking for ways to increase the effectiveness of your workout? Are you stuck at the same weight and strength even though you are constantly giving it all you've got? These secret exercise techniques can have you breaking your personal records in no time!
Below we will teach you the following 4 techniques: Small Ball Crunches, Back Blasting Deadlift Rows, Chain And Plate Side Delt Laterals, and Seated Hanging Leg Raises. These variations of basic exercises give you better results and push you to your full capabilities!
Small Ball Crunches
Why and how it will fire up your abs more far more effectively than regular Swiss Ball Crunches ever could. When you think of doing crunches on the ball, you most likely get a vision of a large, brightly-colored, rubber inflatable ball. But did you know there is a far more effective alternative?
Regular large ball crunches are an excellent exercise but you can dramatically increase their effectiveness by performing them on a much smaller ball. How small of a ball do you use?
The ball I use for the exercise is somewhat larger than a basketball (you can actually use a basketball for this if you like though I prefer the softer ball). It is soft rubber and I got it at Target for two bucks. You can find balls like these at most department or toy stores. Note: if you get a toy ball, be sure it is fairly thick rubber. You don't want it to burst. Test it out at the store before you buy it.
Set the ball on the floor and sit in front of it with your back up against it. Your knees will be bent and your feet flat on the floor.
Roll yourself back over the ball, wrapping your back around the ball as you lay back. Note how the smaller ball not only increases the stretch on the abs but doesn't support your body as much as the larger ball. This vastly increases the demands placed on the abs during the movement.
Not only must your abs execute the crunch movement, they must also balance your torso to a far greater degree than with the larger ball.
Don't be surprised if you find your abs quivering as you do this, even if you are an advanced trainer. I have been doing this one for years and I still get the quivers if I haven't done it in awhile.
Get a full stretch back, rounding your back completely over the ball so your head is almost touching the ground. Crunch up slowly and squeeze your abs hard at the top.
Blasting Bent-Over Deadlift Rows
BENT OVER BARBELL ROW
The power of supersets is undeniable. Supersets (doing 2 exercises one after another with no rest in between) are very effective for building strength and muscle mass.
The following is a superset for your back that will pile on muscle like no other. One word of warning: you should be comfortable doing both of these exercises separately before attempting them together in a superset.
Select a weight that will cause you to reach failure in the 6 to 8 rep range. Do a hard set of bent-over rows then immediately after setting the weight down, move into the second exercise: deadlifts.
You will use the exact same weight for deadlifts, however, you may wish to change your grip to a mixed grip (one overhand, one underhand) so that you can hold onto the bar better.
Do reps of the deadlift until either your grip fails or until a rep before your back fails (don't do deadlifts to absolute failure - always keep the do-or-die rep in you).
After you get done with the deadlifts, your lats should be extremely pumped up.
There are several reasons why this superset is so effective:
- It uses two of the best mass-building movements for your back (and body!).
- The bent-over row uses the lats to actually move the weight while the deadlift uses the lats to help support the weight. Since the lats are already fatigued from the rowing, they will be forced to work far harder when you do the deadlifts. In a nutshell, the rest of your body will help push your lats harder!
- The weight you use for bent-over rows should be relatively easy for you on the deadlift. This allows you to do even more reps with the deadlift.
- It is very easy and convenient to go from the bent-over row to the deadlift. All you need to do is change your grip (if even that! You may choose to use the same grip).
Give this superset a try in your next back workout. The results will speak for themselves!
Chain & Plate Side Delt Laterals
The lateral or side deltoids are what make your shoulders wider. You can't change your bone structure therefore building these muscles is the only practical way to accomplish that increased width
I've come up with a variation of the side delt lateral raise that places not one but two distinct angles of tension on the delts at the same time. Normally, when you do dumbell laterals, you only get tension on the delts because gravity acts directly on the dumbells, pulling them straight down.
This new exercise also adds tension on the delts laterally (directly out to the sides). Combined, these two angles of tension make for a far more effective movement for training the side delts.
For this exercise you will need the following equipment:
- Two Single Cable Handles
- Barbell Weight Plates
- Two Clips
- A Three-Foot Length Of Chain Or Cable
Be sure you get a fairly thick quality of chain that is rated to at least several hundred pounds or more. Hook one handle onto one end of the chain. String the chain through the center hole of the weight plate. Clip the other handle on.
Grasp both handles and get into the regular lateral raise start position (knees slightly bent, hands held down just in front of you, slight arch in your lower back). Make sure the barbell plate is hanging in the center of the chain and that it's not resting on the ground (you may need to shorten the chain if it is).
Raise the handles directly out to the sides and up, exactly as you would for a regular dumbell lateral raise. The barbell plate will come up and contact your upper abdomen.
Hold the contraction at the top for a moment then lower slowly and repeat. If you want to get an extra squeeze of tension, on the last rep of the set, hold the contraction at the top for as long as possible until you can't hold it up any longer.
Even though the motion itself is exactly like the dumbell lateral, the application of tension is very different. You will get more tension for a longer period with this exercise, and it's all concentrated on the lateral delts.
Hanging Leg Raises
Hanging leg raise
The hanging leg raise is an excellent abdominal exercise. This variation is not only easier on your lower back but helps to remove the hip flexors from the movement, all the while increasing the contraction on the abs.
This exercise targets the abdominal muscles with an extremely intense contraction. The range of motion of the exercise is short but the tension on the abs is excellent.
For this exercise, you will need a bench or chair (a bench will work better) and a bar with adjustable height. This can be a regular Olympic bar on a power rack, a Smith Machine bar, or any other set-up you can think of.
Put a bench inside the rack. Set a bar on the racks at about forehead level when you're sitting on the bench. Sit on the bench and grasp it with an underhand grip. Your legs should be slightly bent with your butt and feet on the bench.
Pull your butt off the bench and raise your knees up into your chest. Hold your breath while doing this short movement to help stabilize the abs and improve the contraction.
The movement itself looks like the top bit of a hanging leg raise. Squeeze hard at the top then lower your legs and set yourself back down on the bench. Release all tension on the abs as you exhale then do another rep.
This exercise results in a very hard contraction in the abs for three reasons:
- The position of the legs at the start of the rep is already near the maximum contracted position of the abs.
- Your abs start the movement in a mechanical disadvantage because they are already shortened. This means they must work harder in order to achieve the contraction.
- Releasing all the tension on the abs between reps means you dissipate all the elastic tension that the muscle normally builds up in a regular movement.
Put these three points together and you can see that the abs have to start from scratch at a mechanical disadvantage near their peak contracted position.
The Results: Major Burn!!
Another advantage this exercise has over regular hanging leg raises is that it primarily targets the abs. Normally, when you do hanging leg raises, the first part of the movement involves a lot of hip flexor action. This variation starts the movement with the hip flexors already almost fully contracted. The tension in this position goes primarily to the abs.
Even better, this version greatly reduces stress on the lower back by eliminating the first part of the movement. Generally, pain in that area occurs due to the torque on the lower back as you raise your legs from hanging directly down to bringing them up about halfway. Skip that range of motion and you skip the pain.
If you are looking for an exercise to really bring out the washboard in your abs, give this one a try. I would recommend also doing a set or two of Small Ball Crunches (see above for instructions) to hit the stretched and middle ranges of motion of the abs. The Seated Hanging Leg Raise is perfect for finishing the abs off.
Bench Dips For The Triceps
Want to know an exercise that requires no specialized equipment yet tightens and builds your upper arms effectively? Learn it here and learn how to do it better.
The Bench Dip is an excellent exercise for the tricep muscles, which are located on the back of the upper arms. It is very simple and can be done with a minimum of equipment.
You can use a bench (or even an ordinary chair) for this one. Start by sitting on the bench. Place your hands on the bench right beside your glutes with your fingers curled over the front edge. It will almost look as though you are sitting on your hands.
If this is your first time doing this exercise, set your feet flat on the floor a foot or two away from the bench. Your knees will be bent.
Move your butt forward off the bench a few inches. Now dip your upper body down as though scraping your back along the front edge of the bench. Push yourself back up, squeezing the triceps hard.
This is the easiest position. As you get stronger at this exercise, you will find that this position is too easy. Now it's time to increase resistance.
Move your feet further away from the bench. This forces your triceps to take up more of your bodyweight. As you get even stronger, move your feet as far out as you can so your legs are straight. Your next position after that is with your feet up on a bench with your legs straight. You may even with to try it with your feet on a bench that is higher than the one you have your hands on.
If you get really strong and ambitious, you can even add extra resistance to your body. Have a partner stand behind you (on another bench, if necessary) and push down hard on your shoulders as you push yourself back up. Another option is to place weight plates on your lap or squeeze a dumbell between your thighs, but the partner-resistance is normally more effective.
Ways You Can Mess With People's Minds!
Going to the gym should be fun! Are you stuck in a rut? Try a few of these psychological mind games and enjoy the confusion of everyone around you. It's just like facing the wrong way in an elevator and looking at the other people instead of the ceiling or wall.
- Fill an old vodka bottle with water and use it during a workout. People will wonder if that's "your secret weapon" to great results!
- Wear a helmet. I think you'll find that people will give you a lot more room when you're lifting when you walk in with head protection (especially when you do overhead exercises!).
- Pick up the 2-pound nose-itcher dumbells and proceed to lift them like you're doing the hardest set in your life. Scream and strain like you're pushing it to the limit. The larger you are, the more effective this one will be.
- Load a tremendous amount of weight onto the bench press bar, e.g. 500 to 600 pounds. Make a big production with your preparation, lie back on the bench, then, just as you are about to lift the bar off the rack, your watch alarm< (previously set by you, of course) should go off. Look at your watch, shake your head, unload the bar then move onto your next exercise. The smaller you are, the more effective this one will be!
- Do actual squats in the squat rack. Ya ... weird concept huh? You may have to wait for a few people to finish their barbell curls, deadlifts, bent-over rows, and the rest of their workout but the strange looks you get when you start squatting in the squat rack like its suppose to be used will be well worth it.
- Wear an electric ab-training belt with an extension cord duct-taped to it. Plug yourself in just before each set.
- Have your workout partner bring an old remote control< from home. When he presses a button, do a rep. When he hits "fast forward" go faster. When he hits "pause" hold the weight where it is. Just make sure he doesn't hit the "eject" button, especially after a hard set!
- Count your reps out loud starting from 100, e.g. your first rep, say "101", then "102", etc.
- Bring a suitcase to the gym instead of a duffel bag. The little rolling ones with the pop-up handles are good. Also, a really huge one that you can fit a person comfortably in will work.
- Do a set of Rolling Dumbell One-Arm Handstand Push-Ups. Or Turkish Get-Ups. Or Triceps Extensions on the Leg Press Machine.
- Use sandwich bags instead of workout gloves.
And when you walk into the gym pulling a huge suitcase, carrying a liquor bottle in your hand, with a helmet on your head, two sandwich bags instead of gloves, and an extension cord hanging from your waist, you'll know that you've probably taken this article a little too seriously...