These exercises offer variations on traditional strength and muscle building exercises that will enhance your gains and performance. Add them into your training routines to stimulate your body in new ways, and tax it to grow more muscle.
Often slight alterations in grip, lifting tempo and body positioning can cause huge benefits. Find out what works for you and remember to optimise your nutrition in order to maximise your gains.
1. Banded Deadlift
The part of the movement where most deadlifts fail is between mid shin and mid thigh. The angle of the hips often makes the weight feel heaviest during this part of the lift.
In any given exercise there is a strength curve created by the change in force required to move the weight being lifted based on the angle of the joint doing the lifting. This curves creates a phenomenon where the weight being lifted feels like it becomes lighter and heavier as it moves through the range of motion of the lift.
The initial pull and lockout at the top (into full extension) are often easier for lifters.
Adding bands creates increasingly more powerful resistance as the lifter moves into the fully upright extended position. This forces an increased recruitment of muscle fibres to move the weight through the full range of motion.
Banded deadlifts force the lifter to generate speed and power.
Deadlifts are an excellent exercise for generating hypertrophy. The added tension on the body will stimulate hypertrophy. Higher volume sets can be extremely taxing.
Additionally, try lifting with a much slower tempo to maximise time under tension.
2. Muscle Building Exercises – Pause Squat
Pause squats are exactly the same as traditional squats, except that the lifter must pause for a pre-determined amount of time before rising upwards out of the bottom position.
- Pause squats provide:
- More time under tension
- positional specific strength
- enhance explosiveness capacities
- elicit muscular development and hypertrophy
They are effective because they force the lifter to stay tight when lifting and generate explosive power from a dead stop position. They increased time under tension is an effective way to stimulate muscle growth as well. When it comes to nutrition, make sure that you are fuelling your body properly for success.
Protein is the building block for muscle mass and hypertrophy and is hugely important if you are serious about building muscle.
The 100% Natural Whey Protein Concentrate from Olimp provides 27 gram of protein per serving, perfect for maximising muscle growth!
Casein protein takes longer to digest, and is perfect to consume before bed for example, when your body has time to absorb the essential proteins and amino acids that you need to recover effectively. Pause squats are extremely taxing, so it is important to maximise your recovery.
Pause Squat Technique
The technique is the same as any other squat variation (back, front, overhead etc), however the position must be paused at the bottom of the range of motion.
It is exceptionally important to concentrate on breathing correctly. The Valsuva maneuver is worth practicing if you don’t already use it when you squat. The Valsalva maneuver is a specific breathing technique that you can utilize to improve your performance and safety. It creates a pocket of pressure in the abdominal and thoracic cavities.
3. Good Morning
Good mornings force the erector spinae muscles of the lower back work isometrically to keep the spine in an extended position. The movement requires the lifter to activate
Use perfect technique and a slow, controlled tempo, especially on the eccentric portion of the movement. You can easily fry your glutes and hamstrings this way, and you’ll probably see significant gains in your squat and deadlift as a result.
Good mornings strengthen:
- Lower back
- Posterior chain
Begin with a bar on a rack at shoulder height. Rack the bar across the rear of your shoulders as you would a power squat, not on top of your shoulders. Keep your back tight, shoulder blades pinched together, and your knees slightly bent. Step back from the rack.
Begin by bending at the hips, moving them back as you bend over to near parallel. Keep your back arched and your cervical spine in proper alignment.
Reverse the motion by extending through the hips with your glutes and hamstrings. Continue until you have returned to the starting position.
Lifting Tip: If you are a beginner lifter, keep the weight light until you have built up confidence, strength and good technique.
4. Muscle Building Exercises – Prone Row
The Prone row (or Seal row) is a great way to build solid back strength and muscle. Additionally, it can significantly improve performance on the bench press as well.
Perhaps the most important point is how the prone row teaches you to retract your shoulder blades. When setting up on the bench, it is the ability to do this that will have you safely pressing the weight and smashing new PRs.
- Make sure that the bench is positioned high enough that the arms can be fully extended without the weights touching the floor.
- Lie face down on the bench
- Squeeze grip, glutes and brace abs. This will prevent hyper extension of the lumbar spine.
- Pull elbows towards hips. Pull the barbell upwards until it makes contact with the bench.
- Allow shoulder blades to move around the thorax/rib cage
- Experiment with lifting your legs off the bench using a strong hip extension
You can train as hard or as often as you want, but if it’s not underpinned by an effective and consistent diet, don’t expect to achieve the results you want.
5. Muscle Building Exercises – Strict Press
The Overhead Press (also known as the Strict Press or Shoulder Press) is a compound exercise that involves lifting a weighted barbell overhead to a fully locked out position with the strict use of the shoulders and arms.
Pressing the bar overhead is still one of the most useful upper body exercises you can do. This highly effective exercise involves the entire body. Your feet, legs, glutes, core, abs, hips, ankles and wrists help to stabilise the body whilst your shoulders, upper chest, back and arms press the bar overhead.
Lifting heavy objects overhead has been a benchmark of strength since the ancient times. It developed into the sport of weightlifting in the 19th century. Initially, there were three events: strict shoulder press, clean and jerk and snatch. The strict press was removed in 1972 because some of the weightlifters, in order to engage the chest muscles and push heavier weight, would over extent their back into dangerous positions.
- Setup. Stand with the bar on your front shoulders. Narrow grip, straight wrists, vertical forearms. Lock your knees and hips.
- Lift Your Chest. Raise your chest towards the ceiling by arching your upper-back. Try to touch your chin with your upper-chest.
- Press. Take a big breath, hold it and press the bar in a vertical line. Don’t press it in front or behind your head. Press it over your head.
- Move Forward. Stay close to the bar while you press the weight up. Shift your torso forward once the bar has passed your forehead. Punch your head through the hole.
- Lockout. Hold the bar over your shoulders and mid-foot for proper balance. Lock your elbows. Shrug your shoulders to the ceiling.