I got some decent feedback from my post titled “Exercises you’re doing and shouldn’t be”, so I thought I’d follow that up with this here post today. And speaking of that post, I wrote that in July of 2011?! Can’t believe how the time flies.

Okay, so I realize that some of you may actually be doing these exercises and that’s great! My gut tells me though that that’s not the case. I also realize that we all have different goals and that these may not be appropriate for everyone. These are more geared for those trying to increase lean muscle mass and have a greater caloric burn both during the exercise session and in the hours afterwards. They are also under the assumption that you are injury free, healthy, no structural problems, etc. (that’s my quick disclaimer). So let’s get to it.

1. Front squats: Many of us think of squats as a barbell across the back of our shoulders/neck. And these are no doubt one of the best exercises out there. But there are also a lot of variations to the squat that are also great. I just happen to think that the front squat is one of the best. Due to the bar being placed on the front of the shoulders, it requires us to have a more upright torso positioning. This also requires us to “brace” our core to maintain that positioning throughout the entire movement. It is more quad dominant than the back squat, which puts emphasis on the glutes.  Of great importance is how to actually perform the movement. The first thing is to watch the person at your gym performing the movement and NOT do what they are doing. The hips should move back first as if your pushing your butt back. THEN the knees bend. Most people do the opposite of this and thus the knees extend forward over the toes. This puts major stress on the knee joint and does not target the proper muscle groups. Secondly, think “knees out” throughout the movement. Most people let their knees buckle inwards. Don’t do this. Again, this is an unnatural body position that puts undue stress on the knees. Push them out so that they remain in line with your feet. This let’s the muscles do the work, not your knee joint. One final note: you cannot lift as much weight with the front squat, so adjust accordingly. 

2. Push-up to single arm support: I really like this exercise because like the squat, it taxes the whole body and puts extra emphasis on the core. And yes, you have a weak core. Not being an ass, just being honest. Most of us do, me included. And no, 6 pack abs do not necessarily mean a strong core, it means you have a good diet. I also like this exercise because of it’s ability to transition from easy to really difficult. So to perform this exercise, set a barbell in a rack at about belly button height. The higher you place the bar, the easier it will be and vice versa. Grasp the bar just outside shoulder width (or a bit wider) and set your feet relatively wide (a couple feet apart). Assume the push-up position and lower yourself to the bar to mid chest level. Note: Keep your glutes tight and don’t let your hips sag forward (anterior pelvic tilt). Push your self until arms are fully extended, then release one hand from the bar and touch your chest (it’s best to “salute your chest”). This is where you have to keep your glutes and core really, really tight. The goal is to NOT let your body move or rotate. If you’re doing it right, you’ll know. Only keep your hand off for about a second, then place back on the bar, go down, come up, and repeat with opposite hand. Do enough and you’ll be winded quickly. Note: you can do this at your desk in your office for a nice break from your work.

3. Body Saw: I’d imagine that by now most of you are familiar with and probably performing planks. If not, you need to be. The body saw is a more difficult variation of the plank. I really like it because you get to count reps and not set a timer for plank holds (I get bored). Also, with my back condition, having a strong core is pretty high up on my priority list. So to do it, assume the plank position on your elbows/forearms, squeeze your glutes and brace your core. The other difference of this exercise is that your feet are on Val Slides (or paper plates if you want to save a buck). Next, slide backwards 2-3 inches or so and return to the starting position. That’s one rep. If you are knocking out 10-12 no problem, step up your game by throwing on a weight vest.

So with that, try mixing them into your routine every now and then to keep your body guessing and to change things up. Also, with this new post format, I will be able to include pictures and fully intend on doing so…. once I figure out how to #technologicallyincompetent