Fitness is still in it’s infancy. Unlike sciences like mathematics or medicine, sports science has only been around for less than a couple hundreds years. Sure, the Greek physician Galen (ancient Greek ) wrote many essays on improving one’s health through fitness, aerobics and strength training, but fitness as we know it didn’t come around until recently. Pioneers like Larry Scott and of course Arnold Schwarzenegger only introduced the general population to weight training routines a few decades ago. I think it’s safe to say gym memberships are relatively new in the history books. Furthermore, it isn’t until recently that Olympic athletes of all disciplines have specific training programs tailored to their sport.
Fitness is still in its infancy.
And it is flourishing. So many innovations are being seen in the industry. From new knowledge on nutrition, to fresh training methods and exercises. Regrettably, many people aren’t introduced to these new exercises and only perform the classics, such as Benchpress, Squats and Deadlifts. I have nothing against theses exercises. Quite the contrary; they are the cornerstone of any good training program. However, we need to stop living in the past and start embracing new methods of training.
The number one reason people don’t work out is time (or lack thereof). Secondly people hate the idea of sticking to a boring routine.
The following exercises will get you in shape much faster than the conventional exercises of yesteryear. Ditch that treadmill and that pec- deck machine and start getting familiar with these 5 unconventional training exercises. You’ll find a newfound love for the gym. Well, I certainly hope you do.
When I was challenged to a handstand push-up contest (yes, I was challenged to a handstand push-up contest ), I chuckled thinking it would be a waste of time ( I shoulder press 120 lbs for 8 reps.) I was wrong!
They’re pretty hard. Like most exercises, technique is key. I do recommend this exercise, as it works your delts differently than dumbells, barbells or machines do. Also, being a bodyweight exercise, you can do it at home. Let’s look at 2 variations of Handstand push-ups.
Strict handstand push-ups are performed without using any momentum. That makes them more difficult. You might want to practice putting yourself into the starting position a few times before trying to perform the exercise in its entirety. If you’re worried about the movement feeling unnatural, don’t worry. It is.
Kipping is a fancy word for cheating/ giving yourself a swing. Make no mistake, though. Kipping isn’t only for the uninitiated. Seasoned Handstandpushuppers will kipp to perform more reps than they would using strict form. For that reason, it’s good to be comfortable with both variations.
Heavy ropes (or battle ropes) were originally developped for combat sports. Recently, various sports have seen the value in incorporating them into their training regimen, as they help train functional strength.
If you’re like me and hate doing cardio, you might want to give heavy ropes a try. In a matter of seconds you’ll start feeling the burn.
The heavy ropes can be used in a variety of ways. Here are my favorite heavy ropes exercises.
This variant solicits more strength, as more force must be exerted to lift the ropes up and then whip them back down. For better results, accelerate the frequency. The faster you go, the harder it is and the more rewarding it becomes.
Speed is key here. You’re going to want to keep the movement tight (limit your range of motion), so as to get as many repitions as possible in the time frame you set.
Make sure to keep your elbows in.
You’re going to want to keep your feet planted and lower your center of gravity for this one. The weight of the ropes can easily throw you off balance.
Grab the ropes at both sides, palms facing each other.
Move side to side, making sure you twist your body.
Again, watch out for torque.
Something I like doing is incorporating heavy ropes in circuit. For instance, you can perform jump rope for 1 minute non-stop, then use the heavy ropes in any variation you prefer for 30 seconds. That’s one set. Do 3-4.
Sure, you can do flies with dumbells or on a pec-deck machine or even cable flies, but this variation of flies is worth trying out.
Try it out after your regular chest routine.
I like doing ring flies in a superset with pec-deck
10 pec-deck reps + 10 ring flies
The Glute Ham Developer. Somewhat new to the fitness scene. It is usually used to work on, well, glutes and hamstrings. However, in the crossfit scene, most use it for situps. I’m not a “crossfitter”, but I do implement some Crossfit exercices to my routine from time to time. Just to change things up. In my opinion GHD situps are great for developing your abs. Here is an excerpt from one on my favorite fitness magazines on the topic.
The truth is that the GHD situp recruits abdominal muscles in two distinct ways. First, the range of motion is greater than with any other crunch or situp. Second, the abs contract isometrically throughout the movement. Since the range of motion is probably new to you, start with three sets of eight GHD sit-ups, resting normally…
Source: Muscle and Fitness (http://www.muscleandfitness.com/workouts/workout-routines/sit-hammer-your-core)
I like doing a superset, alternating between burpees and GHD situps. Perfom 10 burpees, then 10 GHD situps. That’s one set. Do 3-4.
I saved my favorite for last. Being an ex Football player, I truly fell in love with this piece of equipment the first time I used it. It really mimics movements many athletes do in their sport. For that reason, It’s great for physical preparation. Most sports require good lower body strenght. My first training coach used to always tell me: “Your strenght is what you walk on”. In other words, your lower body is the foundation upon wich your physique is built on.
The sled is great for developing strength It’s great for strength, power and explosiveness. In addition, it is also great for cadio workouts, as it gets your heart rate up very quickly.
Furtheremore, the risk of injury is extremely low. If it’s too heavy, you just won’t be able to perform the exercise. You don’t have to fear being crushed under the equipment’s weight, like in the case of the leg press or benchpress.
There are so many ways you can implement sled training into your workout regimen. I plan on covering my favorite ones in future posts. For now, I’ll leave you with some of my favorites.
Go up and down the length of the surface you have at your disposal. What I do are two roudtrips with a weigth that allows me to run with ease. The point is to able to go fast. Speed is key. This is more o
Supersets with other exercises
The sled can also be done after performing an exercise. In other words, it can be done is a superset.
A few examples:
4 sets of either routine
10 reps of Deadlift + 1 Sled roundtrip (heavy) + 2 minute rest. Goal: strength, power.
10 Burpees + 1 Sled roundtrip (heavy) + 2 minute rest. Goal: conditionning.
30 seconds Heavy ropes + 1 Sled roundtrip + 2 minute rest. Goal: conditioning.
I understand not all gyms are equiped with ropes, sleds and other unconventional equipment. If that is the case with you, no worries. There are other fun and beneficial exercises that all gyms (maybe not ALL, but you know what I mean) have. I plan to cover that in future posts.
It’s nice to see how fitness has evolved over the years. Gyms are becoming more and more diversified, catering to a variety of needs. The notion of training/ working out goes beyond bodybuilding now. No longer do people need to associate fitness with herculian statures. There are different strokes for different folks. Fitness is being redefined.
Like any other industry, the fitness industry must adapt to the times and give the people what they want. It seems to be doing just that.
I think most of us see the value in being fit, but, in some cases, because of certain belief systems, we stop in our tracks. I find it important to understand that:
Training doesn’t need to be boring.
Training doesn’t need to be time consuming.
Training doesn’t need to cost a fortune.
Fitness is what we want it to be. I think it’s important to find what works for us and find pleasure in doing that.