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Little Changes, Big Results

When starting out lifting it’s key to learn the basics and ensure that you develop a solid base around the major lifts and exercises, however once you’ve been training for a while you may get a little bored of the same old routines even if the weights are going up. Personally I love the feeling of DOMs after a great session and I find the best way to achieve this consistently is by throwing in a new exercise each workout.
Some body parts are easier to hit than others, here are a few of our favourites here at Lean Active, broken down into key sections:

 

Chest

  • 1 & Partial bench press. Set up on a bench press as you normally would, lower the bar to your chest and then instead of doing a full rep do a 1/3, back down and then a  full rep. It’s very simple, but very hard! 
  • Incline flys and dumbbell close grip press superset. Do a dumbbell fly as normal then bring the dumbbells together on your chest, squeeze them together and press upwards. Doesn’t need heavy weights but the pump and burn will let you know you’re working it. 
  • Low grip flys. Rack the cable fly machine on the lowest setting, palms facing up and bring your hands together squeezing at the top. It’s a different action to a normal fly and really targets the lower chest. 
  • Underhand incline barbell press. As simple as it sounds but a great way to hit your upper chest in a different way, just grip the bar with an underhand grip and press as normal. Personally I find a slightly narrower grip gives the best isolation and has made this one of the key finishers I use.

 

Back

 

  • Underhand neutral grip lat pull down. Changing the grip to underhand allows for you to really squeeze the bottom of the movement. Concentrate on keeping your elbows in and controlling the weight all the way through.
  • Straight Arm Kickbacks. Bend over as though you’re going to do a row or tricep kick back, then with your arms straight pull the weights backwards. You should feel all the work in your lats, a great finisher.
  • Single arm landmine rows. Normally in this position you’d be doing a t-bar row (another favourite) but by doing it with one arm and really squeezing at the top you can get some great isolation which can be tough when lifting with both and using heavier weights.

 

 

Legs

  • Narrow stance hack squat / leg press. As simple as it sounds but be prepared to get a major pump in your quads.
  • Rotating your feet in the leg extension. Point your toes outwards, then forwards, then inwards for 10 reps of each for a great finisher which hits all your quads.

Shoulders

  • Switching dumbbells for barbells / EZ bar for lat raises and single arm presses. The added pressure required to stabilise the bar through the movement takes a simple exercise and makes it a killer.
  • Power upright rows. Set up in a squat rack with a heavier weight than you’d normally use for upright rows. Explode up with the weight (I use wraps to avoid losing grip) and then return the bar back down to a dead stop on the rack, repeat.

Arms

  • Reverse grip curls / pushdowns. Alternating your grip hits the muscles from a new angle and is an easy way to mix up your workout.
  • Zottman Curls. Curl with your palms facing up, rotate the weight at the top then slowly lower with palms facing down. You do not need a heavy weight, focus on maintaining form and feeling the burn.

Core

  • Dips into leg raises. Quite a tough one, especially at the end of a workout but a great way to test your core strength. Complete a bodyweight dip then at the top go into a straight leg raise, repeat.
  • Alternating dumbbell to foot raises. Lie down with a light dumbbell in each arm, keeping your left arm and right leg straight bring them both up until they meet and then return to the start, repeat on the opposite side.

What are your favourite exercises? What else should we focus on next?

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