Today I’ll continue my listing and commenting on what I consider to be great but underused exercises. Make use of these exercises if you ever feel bored and in need of something new at the gym. I’ll list one exercise per muscle group.
Underused exercise: Body weight rows.
Hang underneath a securely fastened bar or a Smith machine bar. Stiffen your body and make sure to keep it straight during the lifting. Pull yourself up, so that your chest touches the bar. Experiment with the height of the bar until you find the height that allows you to feel a good stretch in the rhomboideus muscles. This exercise is much harder than it looks. Don’t be surprised if you start prolonging the rest intervals already after a set or two.
Underused exercise: Flyes.
This one is something of a classic, so it might seem strange to involve it in this article. I do, however, feel that this old favourite of Arnold himself is grossly underused. At any given time you can find a dozen people at the gym performing different kinds of bench pressing and you can always find someone occupying the cable station, performing cable crosses. Dips aren’t a rare sight either. But the flyes are seldom seen, which is a shame. This exercise has benefits of its own that those other exercises can't match, the most predominant being that it allows you to target the area of the pecs that ties in to the shoulders. This makes for great aesthetics.
The reason why flyes is an underused exercise is because you will have to go down a lot in weights compared with the ones you use for your dumbbell presses. Don’t let this stop you. Don’t let your ego come in the way. Personally I like to perform flyes with elevated feet, but this is not compulsory. Try both variations and go with the one that suits you best.
Underused exercise: Body weight shoulder presses with feet on a bench.
The advanced version of body weight shoulder presses (I sometimes refer to it as shoulder push ups, which gives you an immediate mental picture of exactly what we are talking about) is to perform these standing on your hands, with the feet against a wall. This however is not something that all can do – and, furthermore, it is not necessarily better than the version that I prefer myself, namely keeping your feet on a bench and putting your hands to the floor close to the bench. Fold at the hips and make sure to get the upperbody vertical (or as close to vertical as you are able) in relation to the floor – and then start pressing. This is a superb exercise that allows you to work the shoulders without stressing your back or your neck. Like many body weight exercises it also contributes to coordination, balance and athletic agility. Another advantage is the obvious one, that you can perform this exercise anywhere. So the next time you’re in a hotel room and feel the urge to work out, try this out.
In the third part of this series I’ll list and comment on underused exercises for biceps and triceps.