Ok, so you’ve been hitting up the gym for a while now and you’ve seen some pretty nice improvements in your strength, physique and overall well being.
But now what? You’ve been at it now for the past 12 weeks and your progress has slowed dramatically.
That’s totally ok and it happens to us all.
Hitting that plateau in terms of training progression is all part of the game. There are a bunch of ways of breaking through that invisible ceiling and going up to the next level, but the one we’re going to focus on today is training ‘type’. Specifically, which exercises you’re doing.
At the end of the day, there only so many ways to push, pull, squat and lunge – but here are 5 exercises you’re probably not doing and probably should.
1. Back Foot Elevated Split Squat
- Grab a box or bench and place your back foot on it, with your front foot flat on the floor about a metre in front.
- Start with bodyweight only until you’re comfortable with the movement then add a dumbbell in each hand for load.
- Bending both knees, drop your back knee towards the floor and your front knee slightly forward over your toes.
- You want to keep a lot of weight on your front leg here, drive your front heel into the ground and extend your front leg until you’re back in a standing position on top of your platform.
- Work one side for reps/time and then the other.
Yep the good ol’ fashioned pull-up is STILL in my opinion one the BEST exercises for building back strength and creating that broad aesthetically pleasing V shape. Someone once told me, “there’s never a line at the pull-up bar” and in most gyms its true!
Focus on retracting your shoulder blades down AND back for the initial part of the movement BEFORE you bend your elbows and start to pull your chest to the bar. The most common mistake I see with people doing pull-ups is they pull their elbows back, creating humeral glide in the shoulder joint which effectively disengages your lats and puts whole lot of strain through your rotator cuff.
If you’re unable to do a full bodyweight pull-up, use bands or an assisted machine to work your way through the full rang of motion. Eccentric (negative) reps are also an excellent progression exercise.
3. The Roman Chair
For years, I thought the Roman chair was this thing:
I was wrong haha. The Roman Chair looks like this:
It’s an excellent machine to really target your glutes and hammies and you can progressively load your reps by holding weight in your hands.
4. Barbell Hip Thrust
We’ve been seeing Instagram fitness models do these forever, with a band around their knees and bodyweight usually. It’s actually a great exercise and you can make it even greater by adding a barbell with load onto your hips.
- Be sure to keep your knees externally rotated (turned out) throughout the movement and work that full ROM.
- Sit on the floor in front of a bench, with the bar resting on your hips. Knees are bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Rest your hands on top of the BB to steady it, drive your feet into the floor and push your hips up towards the ceiling. Try to get up high enough so that there’s a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. At the top of the movement, your back is resting on top of the bench.
- If you feel it more in your hammies than your glutes, your feet are to far away from your butt. Bring them back a little.
5. Face Pulls
Too often our upper back is the first to show signs of a sedentary lifestyle/workplace, with the muscles slowly atrophying as the muscles in front tighten up. Anyone who spends all day at a desk or long hours in a car will experience this at some point without a little intervention.
The face pull targets the muscles in your upper back (rear delts, lower traps, rhomboids) that help to provide good posture.
Adjust the cable pulley so that it’s above head height. Grab the rope attachment. Brace yourself, then pull the rope back with high elbows until your fists are either side of your head. Focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together.
If you’re not doing these exercises already, go forth and conquer! If you are, well then shoot me an email and I’ll give you something else to do 😉
Dylan Rivier has been involved in the fitness industry for over 15 years, starting his career at Sydney University Sport and most recently as one of the founding instructors at Barry’s Bootcamp Australia. Dylan runs small group training and private sessions at Sydney’s iconic Bondi beach through his business Built By Dylan. For more information or to find out more, check out @builtbydylan on Instagram or email [email protected]