So I’ve done a few posts over at Redefining Strength, which I think are pretty helpful….
In case you didn’t see them (and in case they will help you since I know they answered a number of questions I’ve received recently), I’ve posted them below!
This first post “10 Hanging Core Exercises” is because I get asked for “ab exercises” all the time and honestly crunches really give you very little bang for your buck.
Hanging core exercises on the other hand work on your grip strength, lat strength and core strength. They can help you work toward all sorts of exercises such as pull ups, L-sits and front levers.
They are a compound movement and have some functional benefit…unlike crunches.
For 10 of the Hanging Core Exercises I use most often, check these out!
And while we are discussing core strength, I think it is important that we cover BACK PAIN. One of the best tools to alleviate back, hip, neck and shoulder pain is the PEANUT.
The Peanut is a cheap, homemade tool made out of athletic tape and tennis balls. Here are instructions on how to make and use the Peanut to alleviate your pain! (Can I also just say…It isn’t freaking easy to use spray paint!?!)
And the last two posts I want to point out are on Rotational Exercises and the Dip.
The 10 Rotational Exercises post came up because all too often people are only training in one plane of motion…And then they wonder why they get injured lifting something in everyday life. It is because in everyday life we lift awkward crap in every plane of motion. And if we want to remain injury free, our workouts need to reflect that. (Plus…still on my whole “strengthen your core thing” rotational exercises are great core moves!)
And the Dip post is for all of you women out there asking me how to get sexy arms for tank top, strapless dress and bikini season. The Dip can be a great compound movement to strengthen and tone your entire upper body. Don’t waste your time with isolated movements like the tricep extension! Work numerous muscles at once. And if you are already doing push ups, the Dip is a great vertical push exercise to include in your routines!
And if you can’t do a full dip, the post has some great ways to regress the movement!
So Brian’s FAVORITE (and I mean FAVORITE) thing to work is his chest…and upper body in general. These are his 10 FAVORITE upper body exercises.
1. Bench – Ok who doesn’t love bench!?! Barbell Flat Bench is by far Brian’s favorite. It is a GREAT compound exercise. And as Lisa mentioned, “Strengthening your “man pecs” helps keep the twins perky!” The bench press works your pecs, triceps, shoulders and abs among other things! Here is an article about the flat bench press. You can also vary up your bench press by doing incline barbell or dumbbell variations. There are also other tortuous variations such as pause bench…but that is an exercise for another day.
2. Push ups – Brian thinks push ups are easy…I don’t exactly agree but I do think they are awesome for you! Push ups are one of those exercises that you need to actually DO to get better at. Doing bench and such will help, but to truly get good at push ups…you need to DO push ups. Girls don’t just do push ups from your knees because you are girls!!! Channel your inner man and bust them out from your toes or even attempt a decline push up or two (or 10).
3. Dips – You can do these off a bench or from a dip machine, but DO THEM. I find the ones off the bench much easier than full dips, but both can be good. I feel that the ones on the bench pretty much only tire out my triceps while the full dips from the bars work my chest, lower traps, triceps and my anterior deltoid (the front of your shoulder).
4. Wide grip pull ups – I happen to agree with Brian about these….I LOVE PULL UPS! THEY ARE AWESOME! Wide grip are especially awesome because they are hard and they isolate your lats. Regular pull ups tend to use a lot of bicep so these are great to mix in to just work your back!
5. Dumbbell 1 arm row – Brian loves this one because as he said, “You can use heavy weight and it is a good way to build strength and size.” That’s what us Man Bicepers love! 🙂
6. Seated DB Military Press – If you want to improve your bench and push ups, you need to strengthen your shoulders. Military press is a great way to do that. Using dumbbells engages more stabilizer muscles in your core and shoulders. Doing the military press seated instead of standing can also be safer if you aren’t as sure of form – just make sure your back is fully pressed into the back of the seat.
7. Front to Side Raises – Shoulder murder. 1 rep is a front raise and then a side raise.
8. Posterior Deltoid Flyes (with a resistance band) – Brian loves this one because no one works on their posterior deltoids. He says, “They are neglected. People focus on the anterior and medial deltoid.” (Brian also mentioned the fact that Candy has what we jokingly call “monster anterior deltoids.”) Choose a resistance band that you can stretch all the way out while having your hands about shoulder width apart.
9. Straight Bar Bicep Curl – This hits every aspect of the bicep. Don’t cheat – go all the way down and all the way up and DON’T SWING! Stagger the feet if you need to. BUT DON’T CHEAT!
10. Skull Crushers – Please don’t crush your face when you do these. Grab dumbbells and lay flat on a bench or floor. Bending at the elbows and keeping your triceps perpendicular to your body, lower the weights down toward your head. Try to keep your elbows in. Stop before you hit your face and straighten the arms back up without any flexion of the shoulder.
Some others that Candy and I love that weren’t on Brian’s list: Dumbbell pullovers and Iron Cross. Iron cross is also shoulder murder and DB pullovers are a great exercise to work your chest, back and triceps all at the same time! If you do a pullover while holding a glute bridge, you get the added bonus of working your core, glutes and hamstrings.
Some that we hate:
Candy hates pull ups.
I hate Overhead Tricep Extensions…UGH!
We both hate manual tricep pushdowns (which almost made Brian’s list).