Getting fit is not about doing the same old thing all the time. Switch it up with these moves you’re not doing, but should!
There are hundreds of exercises you can use in different training programs. Many go unused.
Why? People are often stuck on the same old bench press or squat techniques. Those are great compound movements. But, you can benefit greatly from using other exercises not commonly done. These exercises target similar muscles as other workouts and also other smaller muscle groups to make the movement even greater.
So What Are Some Of The Forgotten Exercises?
Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. For the most part, we’ll be explaining compound lifts because they offer the best gains. This kind of lift focuses on multiple muscle groups and joints since they are required to move the weight and keep your center of balance. Of course, isolation lifts are good to an extent after you’ve already done all your compound movements.
Of course, isolation lifts are good to an extent after you’ve already done all your compound movements. The following exercises are not the most popular to perform, but that doesn’t matter. They are highly effective at recruiting muscle fibers.
#1 Wide Reverse Grip Flat Bench Press
This variation of the wide grip bench press activates over 25% more of your upper chest muscles than the traditional normal wide grip. The incline bench press is only 5% more muscle activation than regular wide grip bench press, so it really is not the most effective upper chest exercise.
The reason you want to target this area is to increase the size of your chest. People who run into a chest muscle-building plateau often do upper chest exercises to try and break through. The reverse grip is effective for this, but does not get talked about often. Don’t let that put you off trying it.
To do this move, lie on a flat bench and get into your normal pressing position. Grip the bar and lift the weight off the rack.
Then, rest it on your chest. Slowly slide your hands into the wide stance keeping your palms on the bar at all times. Slide your hands into the reverse grip position.
This is also referred to as being supinated, or palms facing towards you. Inhale slowly, and then slowly press the bar up. Use your diaphragm for exhaling. Stop at the top when your muscles are contracted together. Slowly lower the bar back to the starting position.
#2 Reverse Close Grip Bench Press
This is like the prior exercise as it is reverse grip and done on a flat bench. But, instead of targeting your upper chest region, this exercise focuses on your triceps. Close grip refers to you having your elbows tucked in close to your body to create maximum focus on your triceps.
If you have been trying to create mass on the back of your arms, then this is the exercise to use.
As with other reverse grip presses, it can be dangerous to do this with heavy weight and no spotter. Plus, it is not really an effective exercise with heavy loads since your form will suffer. Use moderate load settings. Do 8 to 10 reps.
Begin by lying on a flat bench and getting into your normal pressing position. Grip the bar with a normal close grip and lift it off the rack. Lower the bar and rest it on your chest. Twist your palms into the reverse grip (supinated) position. Press the bar up and squeeze your triceps into forceful contraction. Control the bar as you lower the weight back to the bottom of your chest muscles.
That’s your first rep. Repeat.
#3 Arnold Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Arnold Schwarzenegger created this exercise. It is highly effective at targeting multiple muscle groups including all three deltoid muscles. The standing barbell press is no doubt an amazing exercise to consider doing. Research even states that a standing barbell press is 25% more efficient at activating shoulder muscles compared to the seated dumbbell press. But, the medial deltoid does not get the greatest attention.
That is where the Arnold shoulder press comes in.
All three deltoid muscle heads are contracted along with your traps, upper chest, biceps, triceps and even forearms. The way it works so many muscles is from the twisting motion you do throughout the exercise. Make sure to use only moderate load settings. Do 8 to 10 reps. Use proper form!
Begin by grasping an equal amount of weight for each dumbbell in both hands. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and curl the dumbbells to your biceps.
Your palms should be facing towards you grasping the dumbbells firmly with your elbows tucked in.
Press the dumbbells up simultaneously while twisting the dumbbells forward by rotating your wrists inwards and making your palms face forward by the time you are in the overhead press position. Slowly lower the dumbbells in the reverse order you used to do the exercise.
#4 Dumbbell Suitcase Deadlifts
Suitcase deadlifts are a unique version of the regular deadlift with a whole different purpose for your training program. This is a core strengthening offset training exercise. Basically you have weight only on one side of your body, and your core muscles have to activate intensely to keep your body’s center of balance correct through a neutral spine position.
You can add this to a core strengthening program or back training day following a set of normal deadlifts. They can significantly increase your core muscles and add power to your workouts.
Your upper leg muscle known as the quadriceps is activated as well.
Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes slightly pointed outwards. Squat your body down by bending at your hips and drop down much like a squat. Grasp a dumbbell in one hand. Be sure to leave the other hand completely free. Pull the dumbbell up similar to a deadlift while keeping your body as straight as you can.
Lock your body and squat back down to touch the dumbbell against the floor. You can use a heavy load setting for this exercise if you wish. In fact, it is recommended that you do to get the most out of a suitcase deadlift.
More Forgotten Exercises…
Here are more of the forgotten exercises that we have listed for you. All of these are very important not to forget. Also don’t forget that your rest days are very important as well.
If you are looking to increase gains then make sure to include all of these forgotten exercises in your training.
#5 Shoulder Shrugs On A Calf Machine
Exercise machines can often be used to do more than just that particular exercise being shown. For example, a lot of people choose to do calf presses on the leg press machine. The same applies to the calf raise machines. They are often seen being used for shoulder shrugs. The purpose is to take the load off of your arms and place it directly on top of your shoulders and traps.
This is particularly useful for those who have wrist injuries or carpal tunnel syndrome.
To do this exercise, place the desired load onto the calf machine. Set the machine shoulder adjuster to where you don’t have to squat down too far to get into position. Stand up straight with your shoulders snug against the pads. Push both of your shoulders up just like a shoulder shrug barbell pull. Hold the contraction for a quick second then lower your shoulders down slowly.
That’s one rep.
Remember that a weight machine takes away some resistance. You may need to add more weight onto the calf machine than you would while using dumbbells. The amount to be used can range from moderate to heavy loads. Both are just as effective for increasing strength and power. It’s up to you!
#6 Bulgarian Dumbbell Split Squat
The Bulgarian split squat actually looks more like a lunge than a squat. Regardless, you can increase your leg muscles, glutes and core muscles with this uncommon exercise. The use of dumbbells makes it easier to squat deeper. But, you can use a barbell as well if it makes the exercise more challenging.
You will need a flat bench or a stable fitness box that is at knee height to do this movement.
Use a lighter weight at first. Doing so will help you to get used to the movement. That’s important as you can be thrown off balance easily or put too much pressure on your knee joints. Increase to moderate loads once you have established proper form.
To start, stand in front of the flat surface you will place your foot on with a dumbbell in each hand. Place one foot back on top of the flat surface with the top of your foot facing down against the chosen surface. Squat and allow your muscles to feel a tight contraction against them. Push your body back up by contracting these muscles further and pushing your feet down into the ground.
That’s one rep.
Stretching your hamstrings out may be a safer routine to follow prior to doing the Bulgarian split squats. The tension placed on the back of your legs may be strenuous if you have not yet adapted to more intense exercises. You need to work your way up.
#7 Barbell Half Biceps Curls
Arnold was quite found of this exercise as well. If it was good enough for him, it should be good enough for you. The point of this type of curling movement is to only work the muscles for each phase of the biceps curl.
Because it’s not seen or done much, we will be detailing instructions for both phases of the half biceps curl.
The following start point is for forearms parallel with the floor. Stand with the barbell in front of your body in the biceps curling position. Place your feet shoulder width apart or with one foot back. Just use the most comfortable position to maintain balance. Tuck your elbows in towards your sides and curl the barbell up. Stop when your forearms are parallel with the floor.
Lower the weight back to the starting position and repeat the exercise.
The following is for forearms parallel to upper arm curl. Stand with the barbell in front of your body in the biceps curling position. Place your feet shoulder width apart or with one foot back. Basically, you should use the most comfortable position to maintain balance. Curl the bar up until you are in the full curl position. This is your starting point.
Lower your forearms to the point where they are parallel with the floor. Stop the gravity pull of the weight and curl the bar back high. You can even do them within the same exercise as a burnout type of training program. Once you complete the first portion of the half curl, immediately switch to doing the second movement to receive even better results.
You may have never seen some of these. That’s a given. But, that doesn’t mean they aren’t effective. It also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider trying them. You just have to give them a chance to see for yourself if you like any of them
Include each exercise into at least one training program every other day. This gives you enough time to see what works and what does not work for you. Start every exercise off with lighter load settings to ensure proper form is always kept.
This then helps you decide when you can increase the load. Remember to swap out your workout program exercises every two or three months to keep the pumps in your body fresh for the next day. It’s time to impress your training buddies. They’ll never expect to see these exercises!
By Brian Pankau, CPT