Like me, you probably all love to lift weights, and there is no cooler way to lift weights than with the barbell. There are no better exercises than the back squat, the barbell strict press and the Olympic lifts, but what other unique exercises can you learn to improve your CrossFit prowess?
I could go down the usual scaremongering route of “If you don’t do these exercises you’ll get injured!!” But in all my years of working with athletes and myself I’ve tried a lot of stuff.
I hate wasting my time or anyone else’s for that matter, so if I’m going to pick a “mobility exercise,” I’m going to pick something that will give me the best returns possible for the least amount of effort. I can then put my focus into adding weight to my big lifts.
So let’s get started!
1. SIDE PLANK MARCH
Yes… It looks like Pilates, but it’s actually firing up your lateral chain! And from a coaching perspective, it’s gold! It teaches the athlete to stay tight through their trunk with a neutral spine, while simultaneously flexing at the hip! (Squats anyone?)
The key things with this are to keep the shoulders back and have a nice long body and neck, have your hand open and palm flat on the floor otherwise you turn this great oblique exercise into a crappy shoulder exercise. Also practice your breathing technique in this position. Its fantastic for your warm up and takes no time at all! 1 min each side or 20 reps each leg on both sides.
2. SPLIT SQUATS
There are a few different ways to do these but let’s run with the rear foot elevated split squats, another of the unique exercises list. It’s kind of a lunge variation and what I love about it is that it regulates itself, you can’t do it wrong or you’ll fall over, plus you really can’t go that heavy with it, especially at the start. If you can’t control your glutes, your knee will buckle.
In need of a rest or have got stuck with your squat numbers? This is perfect for you, even in general, with one hip in flexion and the other extended its ridiculously transferable to sport and athletic performance. Just as its sexy cousin, the single leg deadlift, is also a major part of my programming. I would always suggest flat shoes when hitting this up just to get a good range with the ankle.
Don’t be a hero, slow and controlled will give you the maximum benefits!
When you get really competent with it then you could also try these with arms overhead, but again the weight will need to be cut right back. Three sets of 10 on each leg is a nice number and an awesome drop set after heavy squats too.
3. BOTTOM UP PRESS
Bottoms UP! Even if you have no real interest in kettlebells you cannot afford to miss out on this exercise! Again, it’s self regulating and creates an automatically braced response to the body so I don’t have to coach anything (WIN). You can’t cheat this one, if you do you’re instantly rewarded with a broken nose.
Start off light, but there’s no reason why you can’t build this exercise up and up and make it a part of your main training, even between sets of strict presses with a barbell or your warm up!
If you can shift a lot of weight in a standard kettle bell press, but only a small fraction with the bottom up, you could be overcompensating when overhead pressing. Three sets of ten on each arm is a good start but get creative!
4. UNIQUE EXERCISES: RING ROWS
This one is definitely directed at “advanced athletes.” THE RING ROW IS NOT A SCALED PULL UP! Never ever ever ever take this out of your training!
Feet elevated, standing, rotate the arms, I don’t care just row! The more variations you can think of the more happy your elbows and shoulders will be!
5. 90/90 ROTATIONS
This is an amazing warm up you’ll see in most MMA gyms in the world, really gets the hips moving and wakes up sleepy muscles. You can use your hands for assistance if you need to but ideally you want to be able to do it with ease, perfect warm up for any lower body movements and there is also a megaton of drills you can learn for this position that are well worth looking into!
Rep schemes for this? Do it for a minute or just until you feel your hips have loosened up.
6. GLUTE BRIDGE
Don’t want none, unless you got buns hun! Who doesn’t want a nicer ass? Unfortunately nice bums lost all meaning to me when I started coaching, now they’re just points of performance, most power is generated from a hip extension which is basically just squeezing your butt. For the best results with this exercise do the couch stretch beforehand to really get the hips opened up!
- Make sure you’re not hyperextending your lower back and take it slow and steady!
- Arms locked out and palms facing up.
- Usually I’d go for 5 sets of 12 at a heavy weight and then back to the warm up weight and do a massive burn out set, you don’t even start counting till your cheeks are burning!
- pull-ups with ring row: depositphotos