Question: when you walk into a gym, what exercises do you see people mostly doing? Probably the same thing over and over again—bench press, bicep curls, deadlift, and rows… the typical “bro workout.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’d be remiss if I didn’t think that these exercises can’t produce great results. In fact, I’m a huge proponent of conventional barbell training. Majority of my program design for my clients (myself included) consists of these exercises. Strength is the foundation and developing your prime movers (big muscle groups) with exercises as such will do just that. It creates a solid base…after all, you can’t fire a cannon from a canoe.
Now, while the aforementioned exercises are great, it’s the “supplemental work” that puts everything into play and has a bigger carryover to your sport and everyday life. In other words, it puts a stamp on your workout or training session. It doesn’t get enough attention because they’re not seen as sexy or beastly like a deadlift or a bench press.
With that being said, here are three exercises that you should be doing.
1. Pallof Press
I’ve been to many gyms and I can honestly say that I have only seen about three people performing this exercise. The pallof press is traditionally a core exercise, specifically working on anti-rotation. Simply put, it works on firing your core and glutes to brace and resist rotation.
The main reason why everybody should incorporate this into their program is because it’s one of those exercise that teaches the individual how to brace his/her core (you’d be surprised to see at how many people don’t know how to fully brace their core). Remember, bracing your core assists in producing maximal tension throughout your body. Maximal tension = stability = STRONG
2. Bulgarian Split Squats
I’m a huge advocate of single leg training for two reasons: sports are primarily played on one leg, not two, and it reduces the sheer forces on your lower back and knees that accumulate over time from conventional squatting. Does that mean we should negate conventional squats? Well for some, that may be the case because from a structural standpoint, we’re not all built the same way.
For people with long femurs (long legs), I typically minimize conventional squatting and opt for bulgarian split squats because it just looks better—positioning is solid and they’re able to hit depth relative to a front squat or a back squat. I have also found that people who do not have the requisite mobility to squat properly, have much more success executing bulgarian split squats.
Moreover, you can load up as much weight as you can with limited spinal compression. Bang for your buck exercise right there!
3. Landmine Press
Now, with regard to overhead pressing movements (military press, barbell overhead press, snatches), whether you’re limited from a structural standpoint or simply have a mobility restriction, it’s imperative to work your way around the exercise if pain occurs from either of the two. To paraphrase Tony Gentilcore, “You have to earn the right to overhead press.”
The landmine press is an under-utilized exercise, and it gets butchered a lot. Relative to traditional overhead barbell or dumbbell pressing, the landmine press allows the lifter to work overhead movements without causing shoulder impingement. Also, much like push up variations, it allows your scapula (shoulder blades) to move freely. Constantly pinning your shoulder blades down like on a bench press can become problematic over time. This in turn, creates shoulder issues. Landmine press for the win!
Make it a priority to implement these exercises into your program. Have fun!