Category Archives: Ab Exercises

Exercises You’ve Never Tried: Beach Body Edition

I have a confession to make: I love lifting weights, but I don’t enjoy training the beach muscles.
It’s not that I hate bodybuilding or training arms – I love all training – but if given the choice, I’d pick legs ten times out of ten.
My hierarchy would probably look something like this:

  1. Legs
  2. More Legs
  3. Back
  4. Wander aimlessly around the gym
  5. Chest/Shoulders
  6. More Back
  7. Read a magazine
  8. Core
  9. Clip my toenails
  10. Arms

Most typical upper body exercises bore me to tears. I just can’t get hyped up for bench presses, pushdowns, and curls like I can for squats, lunges, and pull-ups.
Call me crazy.
One thing that helps make upper body days more fun, and consequently keeps me pushing hard, is experimenting with different exercise variations. Here are some upper body exercises that even I like.

1. Rotational One-Arm Dumbbell Bench Press

When I first saw the one-arm dumbbell bench press, I didn’t give it the respect it deserves. It didn’t look particularly hard, so I unassumingly grabbed the same weight I’d use for a regular dumbbell bench press.
Bad move. Anyone that’s tried the exercise before knows where this is going.
On the first rep, I literally tipped to the side and fell off the bench, dropping the dumbbell like a total jackass and causing a scene. I knew immediately I was going to like this one.
While it’s essentially an upper-body pushing exercise to work the chest, shoulders, and triceps, you’ll learn fast that it’s really a full body exercise. To be successful, you must create massive tension throughout your legs, core, and even the opposite arm.
You’ll want to start out light to avoid my embarrassing fate, but interestingly, after a few tries to get the hang of it, you’ll find you’re able to use more weight unilaterally than you could bilaterally.
I like to start with a neutral grip at the bottom and pronate my wrist as I press. This feels great on the shoulders, and the rotation allows for a better contraction in my chest.

2. Ring Flies

Exercises You've Never Tried: Beach Body Edition

These are brutal, but if you can pull them off, they’ll fry your chest like no other. I first tried them after seeing a picture of Larry Scott doing them on some badass old-school chain rings.
This is an extremely advanced exercise, so don’t just jump right into trying it if you don’t have any experience on the rings. Doing so will inevitably lead to either a shoulder injury or a face plant, neither of which you want.
Make sure you can first knock out at least 25 ring push-ups to get acquainted with the inherent instability. From there, progress to flies with your arms bent at approximately a 90-degree angle. You may even want to do these on your knees at first.
Once you’re comfortable with those, it’s time to progress to full flies. Be sure to maintain a slight bend in your elbows to protect your shoulders and keep the tension on your chest.

If you get comfortable with full flies (and by comfortable I mean proficient – I can assure your pecs won’t be comfortable), give ring “fly-aways” a shot. I got the idea for these from a recent Livespill from TC where he talked about a similar concept using dumbbells.
You’re basically going to do a drop set going in the reverse order of the progression I laid out to work up to full flies: five full flies, five bent-arm flies, and five pushups, all in succession with no rest. Superset that with five minutes of lying on the floor, hating life.

3. Ring Push-up/Fly Combo

Like the name suggests, one arm does a push-up while the other arm does a fly. You’ll want to place more weight on the arm doing the push-up and de-load the arm doing the fly as much as possible. It may help to think of it as a modified one-arm pushup where you reach the other arm straight out to the side. Alternate between arms each rep.
Confused? I don’t blame you. Check out the video below.

The unilateral nature of the exercise may lead you to believe it’s significantly more difficult than bilateral ring flies, but from a pressing standpoint, it’s actually slightly easier since the arm doing the push-up is supporting the majority of the load where the lever arm is shorter. The “fly” arm simply provides some assistance to counter the rotational demands of the one-arm push up, and gets a decent stretch and bit of activation in the process.
From a core standpoint, however, it’s much harder. The unilateral nature of the exercise introduces a big anti-rotational stability component since you have to brace extremely hard to avoid twisting toward the arm doing the fly.

4. Supinated Ring Chins

Exercises You've Never Tried: Beach Body Edition

Some bodybuilding coaches spout that chin-ups are the best biceps exercise going and no direct biceps work is required. Others say to build mammoth bone-crushing pythons, you need to devote an entire day (or two or three) per week to arms and do every type of curl imaginable.
I’m somewhere in the middle.
I love chin-ups as much as anybody, while curls are the absolute bane of my training existence.
I dropped curls all-together about two years ago, and have just been doing a heavy diet of chin-ups and rows. In that time, my arms have stayed about the same size while the rest of my body has grown, leading me to believe that chin-ups obviously work the biceps to a large degree and are sufficient if your goals are more performance-based, but probably aren’t enough if you hope to start selling tickets to the gun show.
Here’s the thing: it depends largely on how you do the chin-ups.
For instance, I usually use a shoulder-width grip (often wider) and think of my arms as being hooks while my back does all the work. I also come to full extension at the bottom of every rep and do them explosively while maintaining control of my body (i.e. no swinging).
Interestingly, the better I’ve become at chin-ups, the less I feel them in my biceps. Fact is, when I do feel my biceps working a lot, I take it as a sign I’m not retracting my scapulae as I should be.
However, you can easily tweak them to hone in on the biceps. The best way I’ve found is with close-grip supinated ring chin-ups.
Place the rings as close together as possible and take a supinated grip. Perform the reps slower than normal on both the concentric and eccentric and stop just short of full extension at the bottom to keep constant tension on the biceps. It’s important to be strict with these.

If you don’t have rings, you can do them with just a bar, although the rings definitely add something to it from a biceps standpoint. You’ll find that towards the bottom of the rep, the rings will start to twist and your biceps will be forced to kick into overdrive to keep that supinated wrist position.
These are a lot tougher than they look, so if it’s too much at first, you can also try a similar concept using inverted rows instead.

Doing reps like this will invariably shortchange your back to some degree, so do them after your regular chin-up or inverted row workout to finish off your arms.

5. Super Slow Chin-ups

The explanation for these is simple, but they’re far from easy. Do a close-grip chin-up as slowly as you can. That’s it.
Shoot for 20-30 seconds on the concentric and 30-40 seconds on the eccentric to start. If you can do that, add some weight. If that’s too much, then just go as slowly as you can.
I also like to do a static hold at the top.

Use a supinated grip for more biceps emphasis or a neutral grip to target the brachialis. Either way, it’ll also blast your forearms and help build tremendous grip strength.
Save this for the tail end of your workout and just do one painstaking rep. Trust me, if you’re doing it right, that’s all you’ll be able to muster.

6. Bodyweight Triceps Extensions

This is an awesome triceps exercise that, when done correctly, also smokes the core.
TC wrote about doing these in a Smith machine in a Livespill and while I like that exercise too, I prefer doing them using suspension straps for two reasons.
First, you can get a bigger range of motion. When you use a fixed bar, you’re forced to do the exercise like a traditional skullcrusher where you bring your forehead to the bar. With straps, you can extend your arms forward slightly as you drop down so that at the bottom, your hands are actually behind your head. This enhances the stretch on the long head of the triceps and takes stress off the elbows.
Second, the straps allow you to rotate your hands freely as you move through the rep, making it more shoulder-friendly and increasing the contraction in your triceps.

To get the full benefit for your core, it’s imperative that you keep a straight line from your feet to your head. There will be a tendency to want to pike at the hips, so you’ll need to squeeze your glutes and brace your abs to prevent that from happening. It should feel similar to the sensation you get from an ab wheel rollout. If it doesn’t, you’re probably not doing it right.
This is a lot tougher than it looks, so start with the straps fairly high at first (approximately chest level) and work your way down.

7. Reverse Grip Dumbbell Floor Press

Perform this exercise just as you would a regular dumbbell floor press, only supinate your hands as you press. At the bottom your palms will face each other, while at the top they’ll point back behind you.

Where you feel this exercise will depend on your set up. If you use a wider grip, you’ll feel it more in your chest, whereas a closer-grip will put more emphasis on the triceps. I prefer a close grip because I find a wide grip puts undue stress on my shoulders, elbows, and wrists.
You can also try holding a supinated position throughout the rep, but I prefer to rotate to allow for a neutral, shoulder-friendly position closer to the chest.
Think about pressing the dumbbell down towards your feet rather than up over your face like you might in a typical barbell bench press. You obviously won’t be able to, but having that cue in your mind makes the exercise go more smoothly.
Start with about 50% of the weight you can use for a regular dumbbell press and go from there.

8. The “Anti” Press

In response to Dr. Stuart McGill’s research regarding spinal health, much of the new-age core training focuses on “anti” movement stability training: anti-rotation, anti-extension, and anti-lateral flexion. I called this exercise the “anti press” because it addresses all those categories simultaneously.
Grab the handle of a suspension strap and face sideways. Lean out so that your body is at about a 60% angle to the floor. Now brace your core to keep from twisting and press straight out until your arms are fully extended. This part of the motion is similar to a Pallof press you might do with bands or cables and works anti-rotation.
From there, bring your arms straight overhead and pause for a brief second. At this point, you’re focusing on anti-extension and anti-lateral flexion. Rinse and repeat for the desired reps.

Along with building tremendous core stability, this also assists with shoulder strength and mobility. I’m always looking for ways to kill as many birds as I can with one stone and this exercise fits the bill nicely.
It’s easy to progress or regress simply by adjusting your foot position and/or the length of the strap. The further out your feet are from the anchor point and the shorter the strap is, the easier it will be. Move your feet more underneath the anchor point and increase the length of the strap as you get better.
This is a very advanced exercise, so you may want to start with just the overhead portion and see how that goes first.

Conclusion

If you’re one of those people that when asked how you’re doing always responds with “same shit, different day,” some of these exercises may be just what you need to spice up your gym life and get growing again. Don’t go throwing all the basics out the window, but use these as supplements to reignite your training vigor or to help break through a rut or plateau.
Have fun, and be sure to save me a seat at the gun show.
Actually, don’t bother. I’m pretty sure I’ll be training legs that day.

Wikio

>Ab Exercises For Men, How to Get Ripped | Chad Waterbury

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The dieting craze, like any craze, goes in cycles. In the 1980′s, fat was the culprit. Fat was stripped from every food imaginable and the results were disastrous. By the 1990′s people realized that fat wasn’t the problem, it was those pesky carbs. This carb-phobic approach was ideal for the protein powder manufacturers that convinced you to load up on their carb-depleted product. And man did those protein pushers make a ton of dough.
Along with the low-carb boom came the frequent-eating craze. Everyone, including myself, recommended that people should eat every three hours. Calories should be spread evenly throughout the day to ensure a steady supply of nutrients for energy, repair, and hormonal control. This approach works well if the dieter is diligent and the food choices are fresh.
Then in 2002, Ori Hofmekler came along and told us that we had it all wrong. His Warrior Diet focused on extended periods of undereating, or “controlled fasting” as he calls it. This was followed by a big meal at night where the majority of your daily calories are consumed.
The Warrior Diet, a system of 18 or more hours of fasting followed by one huge meal (at night!), shocked the world. When the book came out, small frequent meals every few hours was considered the holy grail of dieting. And the evening hours were considered such a hazardous period to your waistline that most trainers recommended that dinner be nothing but a small portion of protein and some vegetables. Any carbs at this time would surely lead to a morning scare where woke up to find the Michelin man, with your head attached, staring back at you in the bathroom mirror.
I didn’t think much of the Warrior Diet when it first came out. I didn’t read the book, but I heard enough talk and read enough interviews from Hofmekler to have a firm grasp on the approach. His system was definitely at odds with what I was doing, and the results my clients were getting didn’t mandate any significant change on my part. That was 2002.
Since then, I’ve learned one essential truth. Whether you want to lose fat, gain muscle, or boost your energy, gut health is key. I firmly believe that the reason why you could eat virtually anything when you were 17 and not gain fat was because your gastrointestinal (GI) health was at its peak.
Being a nervous system guy, I usually talk about the power of your motor system to build size, speed, and strength. This central nervous system is made up of the brain and spinal cord, while the associated neurons that control your muscles are part of the peripheral nervous system. However, the simple term “nervous system” is an umbrella that covers many areas.
Your gut also has its own neural power source, the enteric nervous system. It controls the function of your gastrointestinal tract, pancreas, and gallbladder. The human enteric nervous system contains 80-100 million neurons. That’s virtually as many neurons as are found in the spinal cord! And if that’s not surprising enough, the enteric nervous system functions almost independently of the central nervous system. In grad school my professors referred to the enteric nervous system as the body’s “second brain.”
Yes, that’s how important your gut is.
So what does this have to do with the Warrior Diet? Well, this month marks the year anniversary when I actually read the book cover-to-cover and put Ori’s principles into play in my own life. Since I was already ears-deep in gut research, I had been using many supplements for support such as probiotics and HCl. I was satisfied with the results those supplements gave me, but I felt I could do more. I kept reading about the benefits of fasting, so that’s when I decided to give the Warrior Diet a try.
There are many ways to follow the undereating (controlled fasting) phase of the Warrior Diet as Ori explains in his book, but here’s a quick overview of what I did.
From the time I woke up until 7pm I had three glasses of juiced vegetables spread evenly throughout the day. Each glass contained the following:
1 medium/large carrot
1 beet
1/2 of a large cucumber
2 large celery stalks
A pinch of sea salt (to keep electrolytes in balance)
I drank this concoction at 8am, noon, and 4pm. From 6-7pm I trained and then I had a big dinner that started with a salad, followed by a large protein source, followed by a starch such as a yam or wild rice. For dessert I’d have berries and maybe a small serving of a chocolate dessert. This is the basic formula Ori recommends for the evening meal (minus the chocolate dessert).
Here’s what I experienced while on this diet for one week.
The controlled fasting phase for the first day was tough. I felt pretty lethargic overall. This was no surprise given that I’d eaten every three hours for the last, oh, 17 years. But I powered through it. I was hungry as hell when dinner came around and I ate a larger dinner than I’d had in years.
The first thing I noticed after dinner was that my stomach was almost as flat as when I started, even though I was completely full. This reminded me of my teenage years when I could eat a horrendous McDonald’s super size meal and have no gas, bloating, or indigestion because my gut was so healthy. Without a doubt, my controlled fast with vegetable juice upregulated digestive enzymes higher than the probiotic/HCl supplement combo I had been taking.
The second day was much easier. I actually felt pretty good during the day and by 5pm, the time of day when I usually have an energy crash, my overall energy and alertness was high. Hofmekler says that fasting will boost growth hormone throughout the day and activate the sympathetic nervous system (your energy system). Given the way I felt, this could certainly be true.
By the end of the week I had lost an inch off my waist, my gut health was higher than it had been in a decade, and my energy was at its peak. My venture in the world of the Warrior Diet paid off.
There were other reasons why I chose to give the Warrior Diet a run. First, I’m so busy during the day meeting with clients that I prefer to not eat. Second – and this is the honest truth – I go out to dinner every single night. Why? First, I’m the world’s biggest foodie. I live for great, rich, satisfying food. The boiled chicken breast and steamed vegetables lifestyle has never been a part of my life. Sure, it’s been a part of my client’s plans when fast fat loss was the goal, but these were people who didn’t really care about food. I, on the other hand, think about what I’m going to have for dinner the second I wake up.
So for me, the Warrior Diet fit my lifestyle perfectly. I have no problems with willpower so I could easily skip food during the day, especially when I knew I could eat a lot of satisfying food at dinner that night.
But many people want to eat during the day. Maybe breakfast is the only time when they can sit down with their kids, or maybe power lunches make up the bulk of a business person’s lifestyle. Or maybe the idea of not eating until 7pm every night sounds like torture. These social reasons are valid, and for them, I wouldn’t recommend the diet because you really have to get the undereating phase right for the diet to work.
Out of all my clients, half of them eat Warrior style. The other half eat small, frequent meals throughout the day. Both methods will work. The trick with eating frequent meals is that your food choices have to be fresh and you have to keep the calories relatively low in each meal. A huge meal like the Ori recommends thrown into a frequent feeding diet plan will quickly expand your waistline.
One of the best elements of the Warrior Diet is that you end the day feeling completely satisfied with food. This is where the small, frequent meal dieters typically fall short since they usually eat bland foods. The reason why this approach doesn’t work is simple: if you’re going to eat, the food must be satisfying to your body and senses or else you’ll fall off the wagon.
So here are the points I want to make in this post. First, I give the Warrior Diet my thumbs up. If fat loss, improved gut health, and longevity are what you primarily desire, and if that style of eating fits your lifestyle, give the diet a trial run. Second, I’m seeing more and more people in the fitness industry recommend a style of eating that Ori brought to the forefront almost a decade ago. In fact, I was at dinner last week with a colleague that I highly respect and we had a good laugh about the Warrior Diet. He started experimenting with it at exactly the same time that I did last year. His clients have all reaped big benefits from that style of eating, and he has made it a part of his routine, too.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the next diet “revolution” is going to revolve around periods of fasting.
Finally, you don’t have to eat Warrior style to change your body for the better. However, if that style of eating fits your lifestyle you should definitely try it. I think the key point that Ori taught us is that we probably don’t need to eat six times per day to get results. Our guts aren’t designed to be crammed with food every few hours.
It’s the quality of food that matters. Three or four meals with fresh food sources are better than six or seven meals made up of protein powder and a handful of supplements. Fresh food sources contain all the enzymes your overworked gut is craving. So you can fast, or you can eat fresh produce and wild fish, etc to restore your gut. You shouldn’t be afraid of food, you should be afraid of poor-quality food that doesn’t satisfy your body.
As Wolfgang Puck likes to say, “Live, love, and eat great food.”
Stay focused,
CW

Wikio

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