Bodybuilding can become mundane. The basic formula for success is pretty much the same for everyone (train, eat, sleep, repeat). The differences come from the types of foods we eat, our training and of course our lifestyle. Once the formula for success has been figured out, you must do the same things day in and day out to ensure you can precisely calculate every move and decision you make knowing what the outcome will be. As such, we tend to find what we like and stick with it, causing us to become creatures of habit.

This isn’t always a good thing, and what you have been doing for a long time thinking it is working may actually be holding you back from some incredible new gains. I’d like to share with you some new exercises that I have recently been introduced to as well as a new supplement protocol that has made my training more productive in recent months.

Chest Training

For years I stuck with the basics and saw some great results. Flat, inline and decline barbell presses were a mainstay. I would substitute the barbell for dumbbells often, and then I would always throw in some “finishing” exercise such as a dumbbell fly or cable crossover. After taking stock of my physique in the pectoral area, I felt I needed more depth to my inner chest. I was then introduced to the Hex Press.

The Hex Press is performed using a pair of dumbbells. To start you rest the dumbbells on your chest while on any bench angle you choose. With the dumbbells on your chest, you simply push them together, against each other, as hard as you can. While maintaining that “smashing” position, you then perform a press. The range of motion is full extension then back to your chest again. Your pecs are constantly flexed, and the burn you feel down the middle of your chest is unbelievable.

Shoulder Training

Overhead presses for adding size to your shoulders is a no brainer. Whether you use barbells, dumbbells or machines, the overhead press will add on size to the shoulders like no other exercise. Lately I have been incorporating a different type of pressing movement, still using a barbell but this time pressing the barbell up over my head while sliding it along a power cage. To do this, you start with holding the barbell right under your nose. Go over to the power cage and push the barbell into the steel framing on the face of it. Then, press the bar overhead while still pushing it against the cage finishing with arms overhead and your head in between your arms. The added resistance of the sliding against the cage is just enough to surprise the muscle.

Back Training

I love doing any rowing movement for my back. I get a great mind to muscle connection from doing them, and I always achieve a fantastic pump and get really sore in the days following the workout. My new favorite rowing exercise is the one arm Smith Machine row. I stumbled onto this exercise as the gym I was training at did not have dumbbells heavy enough for me to truly get a Max-OT workout in. So in looking around the gym, it dawned on me to try one arm rows in the Smith Machine. What do you know, it felt great, and I could put on the weight I needed to really hammer the lats.

Traps Training

There is no way around it, to make beast-like traps a reality for you, you have to shrug and shrug heavy. I always shrugged with a barbell because again the dumbbells were never heavy enough where I was training. Then I decided I needed a break from barbell shrugs and thought I would try unilateral shrugs while sitting on a bench. The pump I got from doing these was crazy, and I have made these common practice ever since in my training.

Biceps Training

My hope here is that you are not like me in that your arms seem to take forever to grow. I have tried every exercise there is out there to try to make my arms bigger. While they are still a work in progress, I have certainly seen some gains in recent months by doing something I had never done before. The change came in the form of thick bar training. Thick bars are not really a common sight to be seen in most gyms but if you are lucky enough to have one make use of it for arm training. The added thickness of the grip causes more muscle fibers to be recruited (because it’s harder to hold onto) and towards the end of the set, you really have to squeeze it hard to hold on. This over-stimulation of the forearms seems to transfer to the upper portion of the arm, and I can personally attest to it adding more size to my forearms and biceps in a relatively short period.

Triceps Training

I have never been a big fan of close grip bench presses or close grip push ups. I never really could get a great pump from them, and I just didn’t feel the triceps working like I wanted to. The gym I train at most of the time just recently acquired a trap bar. The trap bar has two handles that are elevated above the rest of the bar and allows for you to hold onto it with a neutral grip. What I’ve been doing lately is performing close grip push-ups with my feet elevated, holding the neutral grips on the trap bar while driving my elbows into my rib cage. I have been getting great pumps from this and to add one more factor to it to make it heavy, I also drape some chains over my back for added resistance.

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Quad Training

There is no question about this fact; to get big legs you must squat. You must also do some serious leg presses, lunges, hack squats and finish off everything with some extensions for detail. After reading an article about leg training one day and seeing pictures of the person in the article doing vertical leg presses, I started thinking about how I could do this without actually having a vertical leg press. I went back over to the Smith Machine and proceeded to do vertical leg presses in it. Here’s how it works. Set the bar up high enough so that when you lie down on a flat bench below it, you can easily reach the bar with your feet. Put the weight on, have someone help you roll the bar back and lower the weight keeping your lower back as flat to the bench as possible. Then explode back up driving your heels up first, and you have just completed a vertical leg press in a Smith Machine.

Hamstring Training

High foot position leg presses have become a staple in my hamstring workouts. I like these because using the leg press allows for a bunch of weight to be loaded on which we all know elicits the most growth. My suggestion when performing these is to place the heels of your feet where your toes would usually be, pull yourself down and into the seat so that your hips don’t raise up and focus on feel a deep stretch in your hamstrings on the decent. Stop just shy of a full lockout at the top and if you are feeling it in your glutes as well, consider that a bonus to this lift.

Calf Training

Calves are one of those body parts where it seems that either you have them or you don’t. In many cases, those who struggle to put size on their calves will try everything and anything to make visible gains. One exercise that may be overlooked by many is the reverse hack squat toe press. To do this exercise rather than positioning yourself in the machine back to the pad, you set up with your chest to the pad with your entire body facing the opposite way. Put your feet towards the top of the platform so that your heels can go past it, get your shoulders under the pads and perform what essentially looks like an angled standing calf raise. You will be able to put on a substantial amount of weight, and the stretch at the bottom is phenomenal.

Abs

In bodybuilding, keeping a small midsection to help exaggerate your proportions from upper body to lower body is of paramount importance. For this reason, it is suggested that you stay away from any heavy exercises for the abs so that they do not grow too thick and widen the waist. That being said, the abs are no different from any other muscle group in that they need appropriate stimulation. For this reason, a kneeling cable crunch is something that fits the bill perfectly for proper resistance on the abs. Use a rope attachment, back away from the stack so that when you kneel down the plates are already elevated then holding your hands roughly around your ears, crunch down leading with your sternum towards the floor exhaling the whole way. At the top of the movement push your hips forward to get a nice stretch in your abs.

Supplements

I love to go hard in the gym and feel like I have annihilated my muscles. Doing this requires a lot of energy especially if you are training at an elevated intensity level as you should be. Your food pre workout will only give you so much energy, and that’s why I use an intra-workout shake that consists of two scoops of DGC Beta-X Powder - Beta Alanineand three scoops of Beta-X Powder. This potent training cocktail will get you through the most grueling of workouts you can imagine. Then immediately following my last rep of the workout, I consume a serving of R-ALA to help shuttle the nutrients from the food I’ll eat post workout directly to the muscle. Try this protocol, and I guarantee you’ll see immediate results.

There are two trains of thought when it comes to your workouts. If you have found a formula that works then why mess around with it. On the other hand, variety is the spice of life and changing things up for yourself every once in a while can’t be that bad and possibly could garner some new amazing results for your training and physique.

My suggestion is to make use of both viewpoints and pay attention to what works and what doesn’t. Habits are hard to break, building serious muscle takes time, and you should use all the tools at your disposal to truly reach your full potential.

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Discovering New Exercises for New Growth

by Dana Bushell time to read: 9 min