Walk into any weight room and you’ll likely see guys banging out sets of bench press, bicep curls, tricep extensions and abs. Maybe you’ll see a few people doing squats, deadlifts, pull-ups or some form of Olympic lifts, but these usually aren’t as prevalent.
Now don’t get me wrong, these are all fantastic exercises, and in the context of the right program they will definitely help you reach your goals. But every once in a while, it’s nice to switch things up.
The following are six exercises that, while not commonly seen being performed in the gym, will help you blast fat, gain muscle, build strength, and increase athleticism.
Trap Bar Deadlift
The trap bar (or hex bar) deadlift is a fantastic total body movement, and alternative to the conventional straight bar deadlift. No hate meant to the straight bar deadlift; it’s probably my favorite exercise actually.
Where the trap bar deadlift has the advantage however is that it places less stress on the spine. This is because the weight is centered over the axis of rotation (the hips) rather than in front like with a straight bar. This makes how much you can lift dependent on the strength of your legs, not your lower back.
The trap bar deadlift also builds more power than a straight bar deadlift. With a straight bar, as you get towards the top of the lift, you decelerate as you get closer to the body; mainly so the bar doesn’t slam into your junk. With a trap bar, you can accelerate all the way through the lift because the bar never hits your body.
If your back is bothering you from excessive deadlifting, or you just want to try something different, sub the trap bar deadlift for straight bar deadlifts in your workout.
Ever see someone lying on the floor, bar over the hips, basically humping the air? That’s the hip thrust. And while it looks weird, the hip thrust is arguably one of the best glute-building exercises out there.
Why should we care about the glutes? Despite the fact that the butt may be the last thing bros think about working in the gym, the glute muscles are extremely important. Not only are they the largest muscle in the body, the glutes, along with the hamstrings, are the main producer of power, force and strength in the lower body. Plus women appreciate a nice butt on a guy too; according to my girlfriend anyway.
If you’re not currently hip thrusting, add 3-5 sets of 5 for strength, or 3 sets of 8-12 for hypertrophy to a lower body day. Just never make eye contact with anyone while hip thrusting. EVER.
Bulgarian Split Squats
Also known as rear-foot elevated split squats, BSS are a brutal, yet effective, lower body exercise. Add 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps to the leg day you’re not skipping, and your quads will be screaming for mercy.
Single-leg exercises are an overlooked but amazingly effective form of training. Forget the Bosu or stability ball…single-leg training will help build balance and stability without the risk of shredding your knee on an unstable surface. And because you are essentially doing twice the work, twice the number of breaths, and twice the number of heartbeats, you are getting twice the metabolic, or fat-burning, benefit compared to the same exercise performed on two legs.
Few exercises are more versatile than the kettlebell swing. Swings can be used to increase strength, power, endurance, aerobic, and anaerobic capacity. The kettlebell swing uses nearly every muscle in your body, including your entire posterior chain (the muscles that run from your neck, down your back to your feet).
Because of the nature of the swing, it is much safer for the lower back than say deadlifts or cleans. This means that it can be used with heavy loads for low reps to increase strength and power, or with light loads for high reps to improve endurance, aerobic capacity, and conditioning. Add them to the end of any workout to ramp up your metabolic rate.
Snatch-Grip High Pulls
Big shoulders, massive traps, and a broad back…if there’s a look any bro should strive for, it’s this. Not only is this look intimidating, powerful, and athletic, but it also makes your waist appear slimmer.
To get this look, few exercises will do a better job than the snatch-grip high pull. This explosive movement hits your entire upper back, lats, and shoulders, while also working the posterior chain. Not only does the snatch-grip high pull help build the “power” look, but it helps build speed, strength, and explosiveness as well.
The snatch-grip high pull can be performed on a lower or upper body day. Because it is similar to an Olympic lift, to avoid form breakdown, reps should be kept around 6, while loads can be heavier.
No exercise list would be complete without an ab exercise right? And while most reading this have probably never heard of the deadbug, make no mistake, it is a seriously effective ab workout.
While it looks easy, it is anything but! To perform a deadbug effectively, you need to tighten your abs, and press your lower back hard into the floor. If you back arches and rises up off the floor, it makes the exercise much less effective.
Also because of the movement, and position that you are in, the deadbug forces you to learn how to move your hips without engaging your lower back, and move your shoulders without moving your spine. This combination will fry your abs.
Add 3 sets of 10-12 reps to your normal ab workout and hate yourself the next day.
A lot of people do the same thing in the gym over and over and get no results. Just because an exercise is popular, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s effective. Set yourself apart in the gym with these six exercise and not only stand out, but gets results as well.