Tag: Training Exercises

The Science of Isometric Training — Explained!

The Science of Isometric Training — Explained!

Can you build a stronger and more aesthetically appealing physique by not moving? Wild idea, but that’s what isometric training is all about. On the outside, it looks like nothing is happening. However, on the inside, your muscle activation is off the charts.
Isometric training is not as popular as its dynamic counterpart. I mean, an explosive snatch or a powerful bench press obviously looks pretty exciting. Isometric training doesn’t necessarily attract Instagram views or get your gym crush to give second glances. That said, it’s one of the most researched-backed methods you’re missing out on.
What is Isometric Training?

Isometric training involves static muscle contractions without any visible movement at the joints. The muscle length remains constant during these exercises, and the joint angle doesn’t change. Instead of the traditional range of motion seen in dynamic exercises like squats or bicep curls, isometric exercises focus on maintaining a fixed position against an immovable force.
The plank is a classic isometric exercise where the individual holds a push-up position with arms extended and the body straight. The muscles in the core, arms, and legs engage to keep the body stable against gravity’s attempt at sinking your midsection to the floor.
But isometric training is far more useful than just increasing stability. It will get you strong, jacked, and keep your joints happy forever.
Benefits of Isometric Training
Isometric training is often neglected, but it has a host of benefits. Holding static contractions against resistance will activate lots of muscle fibers and stimulate many favorable adaptations.
Unlike dynamic exercises, where you are moving against force, isometric exercises involve exerting force against an immovable object or resisting force applied by external resistance. This produces high tension levels, which is what you need for muscle growth.
You technically don’t need the muscles to change length during your isometric training set. In fact, it might even be advantageous to utilize isometrics when a muscle is in a shortened position. Research has shown this can help promote hypertrophy. (1)
During isometric contractions, motor units are recruited, generating tension within the muscle fibers. This tension increases muscle activation, stimulating muscle fibers to adapt and grow over time. While isometric training is often associated with improving static strength and joint stability, research indicates that it can also play a crucial role in hypertrophy. (2)
The key to growing from isometrics is similar to dynamic strength training. You need to train with enough intensity so high levels of motor unit recruitment occur along with sufficient tension imposed on muscle fibers. 

Enhance Your Mind-Muscle Connection
Lifters love feeling their muscles. That burning sensation indicates that we are training what we intend to. It gives us confidence that we are training optimally and, in some cases, can even enhance our muscle growth. Many lifters report a better mind-muscle connection with their stubborn muscles after incorporating isometrics into their workouts.
Isometrics can also be incredibly effective for warming up before a workout. The mind-muscle connection you develop will prepare those muscles to activate in the workout.
Developing Strength
You’re only as strong as your weakest muscles. If you consistently fail your squat in the hole, it’s worth doing isometrics in that position. The same principle applies if you can’t lock out your bench press. Developing isometric strength in that position will be crucial for strengthening the whole exercise. Isometric training also allows you to engage your muscle fibers better and generate more force. 
This also translates to improved athletic performance. Many sports, like rock climbing, martial arts, and gymnastics, involve isometrics, where you must hold muscle contractions for extended durations.
Injury Prevention and Rehab
Isometric training improves muscle fiber activation without overburdening your joints and connective tissues.  The adaptations from isometric training can also increase joint stability and allow you to keep training for strength and hypertrophy while reducing the risk of injury.
From a rehab perspective, isometric training allows you to train your muscles in specific positions that you can tolerate without doing the full range of motion.
Incorporating Isometric Training Into Your Routine
Most people are clueless about how to incorporate isometric training. It can be simpler than you think. Here’s your go-to checklist for your next workout involving isometrics.
Identify Targeted Muscle Groups
Determine the muscle groups you want to focus on. You can use isometric exercises for various muscle groups, including chest, shoulders, back, core, legs, and arms.
Choose the Right Exercises
Select isometric exercises that target your desired muscle groups. Popular examples include planks and wall sits. However, you don’t necessarily need specific exercises. You can simply take an exercise you already planned on doing and do an isometric hold at a specific point in the lift.

Gradual Progression
Start with shorter holds and gradually increase the duration of contractions. Aim for 10-30 seconds initially and work your way up to 60 seconds or more as you gain strength and muscle endurance. You can use additional resistance as you gain more experience. Isometrics can be highly fatiguing, especially when added on top of your current training load.
Add Them Anywhere in Your Workouts:
If you struggle with your mind-muscle connection, isometrics can be a game-changer at the start of the workout. For example, if your knees are always achy during your leg workout and you never seem to feel your quads, it might be worth pausing at the top of a leg extension’s range of motion or doing a set of wall sits as your first exercise. This recruits your quads and reduces the stress on your knees, giving you a more effective and joint-friendly workout.
However, saving them for the end of your workout can be the way to go if you want a brutal finisher. For example, after you’ve already destroyed your quads on leg day, you can finish with an isometric split squat or a wall sit to failure.
Combine with Dynamic Exercises
Combine isometric training with dynamic exercises for optimal results. A common example of this is to pause at the most challenging point of a dynamic exercise. For example, you can add a four-second pause at the bottom of each squat. This is the most difficult portion of the squat, where muscle activation and muscle tension are highest due to the difficulty and stretched position.
For other exercises where the top is harder, you can pause for three seconds at the top of the range of motion. For example, pause four seconds at the top of a row to develop a good mind-muscle connection while minimizing momentum.
Rest and Recovery
Allow sufficient rest and recovery between isometric training sessions to promote muscle repair and growth. As I mentioned, isometric exercises can be pretty fatiguing, and many people don’t consider this when adding them to their already fatiguing workouts. It’s important to assess your training volume and adjust over time as needed, especially when adding isometrics to the mix.
Full Body Isometric Workout
As mentioned earlier, you can warm up with isometric training or finish with it to torch your muscles. You can also do a full-on isometric workout. It will feel quite different than your typical workout but don’t let the novelty of static movements fool you. These workouts are killer.
Here is a sample full-body isometric workout that you can try.


Pause Squats
3 min

Pause RDL
3 min

Pause Bench Press
10-15 sec
2 min

Pull Up Hold
20-30 sec
2 min

Wall Sit
30-60 sec
2 min

Overhead Carry
30-60 sec
2 min

Aim for the higher end of the rep range and select a load that is challenging enough to reach close to muscular failure. Rest sufficiently between sets to allow the nervous system to recover.
Popular Isometric Exercises
Here is an overview of some great isometric exercises from the sample program, along with detailed instructions to get the most bang out of your isometric training.
Wall sit
You probably did these in your middle school gym class. They are hard and don’t require any fancy equipment. One set of these will hit your brain with nostalgia and your quads with nasty burns.

Locate a sturdy and clear wall space where you can perform the exercise without any obstructions.
Stand with your back against the wall, ensuring your feet are shoulder-width apart. Keep your feet flat on the ground and your toes pointing slightly outward.
Slowly slide your back down the wall while bending your knees. Lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the ground as if sitting on an invisible chair. Your knees should be directly above your ankles, and your back should be firmly against the wall.
Hold this position as you squeeze your core and quads.

Pro tip: Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell for added resistance.

Pause Squats
Squats are great for targeting the quads, glutes, and core muscles. Pause squats involve pausing at the bottom, increasing the tension at the bottom position and forcing you to stay tighter and more stable. They also build tons of strength coming out of the hole aka the bottom of the squat.

Position yourself with your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider, with your toes pointing slightly outward.
Take a deep breath and brace your core.
Initiate the squat by pushing your hips back and bending your knees.
Once you reach the desired depth of your squat, pause and hold the position for the prescribed duration.
Stand back up keeping your spine neutral

Pro tip: Practice releasing your breath at the bottom to feel your quads and glutes more

Pause Bench Press
The bench press often has sticking points where the barbell seems to stall during the lift. By pausing at these sticking points, you can focus on building strength in those specific ranges, ultimately helping you push through plateaus and improve your full-range bench pressing.

Lie on the bench with your eyes directly under the barbell. Grip the barbell with a shoulder-wide overhand grip.
Unrack the bar and lower it towards your mid-chest.
Pause in this position or press it a couple inches up and hold that position for your desired amount of time. I suggest four seconds.
Complete the lift by pressing all the way up.

Pro tip: You can also hold the isometric by pressing up against safety pins.

Pause RDLs
The Romanian deadlift (RDL) is a highly effective exercise for targeting the posterior chain, including the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. It is an excellent movement for building strength and enhancing the stability of the hip hinge pattern. However, by incorporating a pause into the RDL, you can take the benefits of this exercise to a whole new level by leveraging the benefits of isometric training.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly narrower. Position the barbell in front of you, resting on your thighs, with a pronated grip (palms facing you).
Initiate the movement by pushing your hips back, allowing the barbell to slide down your thighs. Keep the barbell close to your body as you lower it.
Once you reach the desired depth of your RDL, hold the position for 2-3 seconds.
Drive through your heels to rise back to the starting position.

Pro tip: Use straps if you are dealing with crazy heavy weights.

The plank is a simple yet incredibly effective bodyweight exercise that targets the core muscles, including the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and obliques. It is renowned for strengthening the entire core, improving posture, and enhancing overall stability. The OG in isometric training, if you will.

Place your forearms flat on the ground, directly below your shoulders. Keep your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle.
Lift your body off the floor by pressing through your forearms and toes. Maintain a straight line from your head to your heels.
Hold the plank position for as long as you can maintain proper form.

Pro tip: Add a small weight plate to your lower back to make the exercise more challenging.

Overhead Carry
With any loaded carry, you’re technically moving, but your hips and upper body are rock solid in this variation to create tightness. These translate well to many sports that require high levels of stability as they train your shoulders, core, and arm muscles in a static position.

Choose an appropriate weighted object for the overhead carry, such as a dumbbell or kettlebell.
Press the weight overhead, fully extending your arms and keeping your biceps close to your ears. Your palms should face forward.
Begin walking forward in a controlled manner while keeping the weight overhead.
To finish the overhead carry, carefully lower the weight back to shoulder height before returning it to the starting position.

Pro tip: You can use dumbbells, kettlebells, or even barbells for this exercise, depending on how spacious your gym is.

Unleash Your Static Potential
Isometric training is a valuable addition to any hypertrophy-focused workout regimen. By targeting high motor unit recruitment, prolonged time under tension, and an increased mind-muscle connection, you will unlock new levels of muscle growth. Not to mention, you can do so without the aches and pain associated with traditional dynamic strength training. 

Nunes J. Does stretch training induce muscle hypertrophy in humans? A review of the literature. Clinical physiology and functional imaging. 2020. Accessed July 28, 2023. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31984621/.
Oranchuk D. Isometric training and long-term adaptations: Effects of muscle length, intensity, and intent: A systematic review. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports. 2019. Accessed July 28, 2023. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30580468/.

The 7 Best Ways to Use A Leg Extension Machine

The 7 Best Ways to Use A Leg Extension Machine

The leg extension is a popular exercise and arguably the most effective way to isolate your quads. All that said, doing set after set of regular leg extensions can soon become boring. After all, you don’t just do bench presses for your chest or barbell curls for your arms. Instead, you use a variety of exercises to maximize growth and engage your brain as much as your muscles.
Thankfully, there is more than one way to do leg extensions, each one more intense (and painful!) than the last.
So, breathe new life into your quad-building workouts with the seven best ways to use a leg extension machine!
Leg Extensions – Muscles Worked

Leg extensions are an isolation exercise. Contrary to what many people think, this doesn’t mean they isolate one muscle. Instead, isolation exercises involve movement of a single joint and often work several muscles.
In the case of leg extensions, the muscles worked are the quadriceps, which are actually several muscles that work together. Usually described as a group of four muscles, there are actually six quads, although two are usually overlooked:
Rectus Femoris
The rectus femoris is a biaxial muscle that crosses the knee and hip, affecting both joints. Its functions are knee extension and hip flexion. It originates (starts) from the ilium bone of the pelvis and inserts (ends) at the patella (kneecap) and tibial tuberosity, which is the bump at the top of your shin bone.
Vastus Lateralis
The vastus lateralis is the largest muscle in the quadriceps group. It’s located on the lateral aspect or outside of the thigh and originates on the femur and inserts into the patella and tibial tuberosity. Its function is knee extension.
Vastus Intermedius
Located between the vastus lateralis and vastus medialis, the vastus intermedius originates on the front and side of the femur and inserts into the patella and tibial tuberosity. Like the other quad muscles, its function is knee extension.
Vastus Medialis
The vastus medialis is located on the inside of the thigh, just above the knee. It originates on the femur and inserts into the patella and tibial tuberosity. Its function is knee extension, and it’s especially active during the last few degrees of movement. The vastus medialis also plays an important role in controlling the alignment and motion of your kneecap.
Tensor vastus intermedius
This relatively new muscle was only discovered in 2016 (1). Located between the vastus lateralis and vastus intermedius, the tensor vastus intermedius is another often overlooked quadriceps muscle. It originates on the pelvis and inserts onto the medial aspect of the patella, making it a relatively long muscle. However, the bulk of the tensor vastus intermedius is at its proximal end, and it’s actually more tendon than muscle tissue.
Articularis genus
The Articularis genus is a small muscle within the quadriceps group. It originates low on the femur and inserts onto the upper part of the patella bursa, which is a fluid sack that reduces friction between a tendon and bone. While this IS a small muscle, it plays a crucial role in the efficient movement of the knee joint.
How to Do Leg Extensions
Before we get into some new ways to use a leg extension, let’s make sure you’re doing the basic version of this exercise correctly. After all, incorrect form now will probably mean that you will do the variations incorrectly, too.

Adjust the backrest of the machine so that, when you sit on it, your knees align with the lever arm pivot point.
Adjust the leg pad so it rests on your ankles and doesn’t move as you extend your legs. If the pad rolls up and down, it is not in the correct place.
Sit on the machine with your knees back against the edge of the seat. Grip the handles at your sides.
Without kicking or jerking, smoothly extend your legs until they are straight.
Bend your legs and lower the weight back down.
Continue for the desired number of reps.

Pro Tips:

Pause for a second with your knees straight to maximize quadriceps engagement.
Avoid letting the weights touch together to keep your muscles under constant tension.
Use your arms to pull your butt down and back into the seat when using heavy weights.
Pull your toes up toward your shins to increase quadriceps activation.
Perform this exercise smoothly and deliberately for best results.

Leg Extension Benefits and Drawbacks
Not sure if leg extensions deserve a place in your workouts? Consider these benefits and then decide!
A very safe exercise
Injuries with leg extensions are very rare. They put no stress on your lower back and are relatively knee-friendly, provided you don’t go too heavy or use poor technique. They’re also ideal for training to failure, as you can just return to the starting position when you are unable to continue. There is no danger of getting pinned under a heavy weight.
One of the only ways to isolate your quads
Most leg exercises involve the knees and hips working together. This means that, as well as your quads, you’ll also be working your glutes and hamstrings, abductors and adductors. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it does mean your quads may be overshadowed by these other muscles. Leg extensions allow you to prioritize your quads.
Easy to perform
Leg extensions are a very straightforward exercise. They’re easy to learn, which makes them ideal for beginners. However, more experienced exercisers will also appreciate this simplicity as, with no tricky movements to coordinate, they are free to focus on pushing their muscles to their limit.
Ideal for muscle building, pump-inducing drop sets
Most leg extensions have selectorized weight stacks so you can quickly change the weights without getting off the machine. This feature makes leg extensions perfect for drop sets. Rep out to failure as usual, but when you hit failure, reduce (or drop) the weight by 10-15% and rep out again. Perform 2-4 drops to fry your quads. And yes, that intense, deep burn is entirely normal!
Great for pre- and post-exhaust training
Pre-exhaust training involves doing an isolation exercise before a compound movement for the same muscle group, e.g., leg extensions before squats. Needless to say, this makes the second exercise much more challenging.
In contrast, post-exhaust training involves doing a compound exercise followed by an isolation movement for the same muscle, e.g., leg press followed by leg extensions. This allows you to wring out a few more reps and push your muscles past their usual limits.
Both pre- and post-exhaust are great ways to increase the intensity of your workouts and could help trigger greater hypertrophy or muscle growth.
Read more about pre- and post-exhaust training here.
A great way to increase your quadriceps mind-muscle connection
You cannot expect to build a muscle you cannot control or feel working. A lot of lifters complain that they don’t really feel their quads during squats and leg presses despite the exercises being challenging. Doing leg extensions teaches you to reconnect your mind with your muscles for more effective workouts. Bodybuilders call this the mind-muscle connection.
Good for knee stability
Strengthening the quadriceps, especially the vastus medialis, can help improve knee stability. Lateral movement of the knee joint can cause wear and tear, potentially leading to injuries. Stronger quads result in increased knee stability and fewer unwanted movements. Leg extensions are frequently used during early and mid-stage knee injury rehabilitation, e.g., post-surgery.

While leg extensions are a mostly beneficial exercise, there are also a few drawbacks to consider:
Knee joint shearing force
While leg extensions are generally quite joint-friendly, they’re not 100% safe. The relationship between your knees, the seat, and the position of the load puts a significant amount of shearing force through the joints. This means that while your femur remains stationary, your tibia or shin bone is pushed backward.
Shearing force is not really a problem unless you have damaged anterior or posterior cruciate ligaments. So, skip this exercise and its variations if you have a history of ACL and especially PCL injuries.
Easy to cheat
Watch a lot of people doing leg extensions, and you’d be forgiven for thinking they were playing soccer! They kick the weight up so that, mid-rep, there is very little tension on the target muscles. Using too much weight is the most common cause of this technique fault. So, go lighter and lift the weight smoothly to make your workout both safer and more effective.
Not very functional
A functional exercise is one that prepares you for the challenges of life outside the gym, such as everyday activities or sports. Examples include push-ups, lunges, Romanian and conventional deadlifts, and squat jumps. Invariably, functional exercises involve multiple muscles and joints working together combined with a load that can move in various directions.
Leg extensions are not very functional. They’re performed seated, the weight and your movements are is guided, and they don’t replicate any natural activities. They’re a good exercise for building bigger quads, but they probably won’t do much for your athletic performance or functional fitness.
Can be repetitive and boring
Set after set of the same old leg extensions can soon become boring. The good news is that, in the next section of this article, we’re going to share some new ways to do leg extensions and make this exercise fun again. By fun, we obviously mean more intense and effective!
Related: Best Leg Extension Alternatives for Quads Size and Strength
7 Best Ways to Use a Leg Extension Machine
Are you bored of doing regular leg extensions? Do they no longer provide you with much of a challenge? Liven up your quads workouts with these new and unusual variations!
1. Single-leg leg extensions
Muscles targeted: Quadriceps.
Most people have one leg stronger than the other. While a slight strength imbalance is normal and nothing to worry about, more significant differentials can be a problem and could lead to injuries. If nothing else, you might have one leg bigger than the other. Training one leg at a time is the best way to fix these issues.
Use your weaker/smaller leg first, then match your performance with your stronger leg. Gradually, your weaker leg will catch up with your stronger one.

Adjust the backrest of the machine so that, when you sit on it, your knees align with the lever arm pivot point. Adjust the leg pad so it rests on your ankle and doesn’t move as you extend your leg.
Sit on the machine with your knees back against the edge of the seat. Grip the handles at your sides.
Without kicking or jerking, smoothly extend one leg until your knee is straight.
Bend your leg and lower the weight back down.
Continue for the desired number of reps.
Switch sides and repeat.


Fix your left-to-right strength imbalances.
You will probably be stronger using one leg at a time than both legs.
Suitable for forced reps, drop sets, and other intensifying methods.


You can also do this exercise with an alternating leg action.
Use your non-working leg toward the end of your set to push out a couple of forced reps.
Take care not to kick the weight up.

2. 2:1 accentuated eccentric leg extension
Muscles targeted: Quadriceps.
You are stronger eccentrically than you are concentrically. This means you can lower more weight than you can lift. You probably won’t be able to find a spotter to help you lift a heavy weight so you can lower it yourself, so use this method to overload your quads and promote renewed muscle growth.

Adjust the backrest of the machine so that your knees align with the lever arm pivot point. Adjust the leg pad so it rests on your ankles and doesn’t move as you extend your legs.
Sit on the machine with your knees against the edge of the seat. Grip the handles at your sides.
Without kicking or jerking, raise the weight with both legs but then lower it slowly with one. Really accentuate that eccentric/negative movement.
Raise the weight again with both legs and then lower with the other.
Continue alternating legs for the desired number of reps.


An effective way to expose your muscles to more weight than usual.
An ideal workout method for solo trainers.
Eccentric contractions are strongly linked to increases in muscle size.


Use about 60% of your usual leg extension training weight.
The slower you lower the weight, the more challenging and effective this exercise becomes.
You can also do all your reps on one leg before switching sides.

3. 1 ½-rep leg extensions
Muscles targeted: Quadriceps.
If you want to develop your vastus medialis or tear-drop quad, this is the exercise for you. Each rep involves one full rep and one top-range half rep to really fry your vastus medialis and force it to grow. Be warned; off all the ways to do leg extensions, this could be one of the most painful!

Adjust the backrest of the machine so that your knees align with the lever arm pivot point. Adjust the leg pad so it rests on your ankles and doesn’t move as you extend your legs.
Sit on the machine with your knees against the edge of the seat. Grip the handles at your sides.
Without kicking or jerking, raise the weight with both legs and then pause briefly.
Next, bend your legs and lower the weight halfway down.
Extend your legs once more, and then lower the weight all the way down.
That’s one rep – keep going!


Increases time under tension for a more effective workout.
One of the best ways to target the vastus medialis or tear drop quad.
Produces an intense burn and deep pump in the quadriceps muscles.


Don’t go too heavy; this is a very challenging exercise.
Avoid kicking the weight up. Instead, move smoothly and deliberately.
Don’t let the weights touch down between reps.

4. Isometric leg extension holds
Muscles targeted: Quadriceps.
Of the three types of muscle contraction (concentric/lifting, eccentric/lowering, isometric/static), eccentric contractions are the strongest. This means you can generate more force while stationary than you can while moving. This exercise exposes your muscles to much heavier loads than you could lift or lower. On the downside, you may need a training partner to help you raise the weight into the correct starting position.  

Adjust the backrest of the machine so that your knees align with the lever arm pivot point. Adjust the leg pad so it rests on your ankles and doesn’t move as you extend your legs.
Sit on the machine with your knees against the edge of the seat. Grip the handles at your sides.
Raise the weight until your legs are straight.
Hold the weight with your legs extended for as long as possible. Do not drop the weight at the end of your set. Instead, lower it as slowly as possible.


Exposes your muscles to much heavier weights than usual.
An excellent strength-building exercise.
A good way to break through leg extension sticking points.


It’s okay to use momentum to help you raise the weight.
Time your sets and try to increase the duration as you get stronger.
Take care not to hold your breath, as doing so could cause your blood pressure to rise dangerously high.

5. Drop set leg extensions
Muscles targeted: Quadriceps.
Leg extensions create a lot of occlusion, meaning they stop blood flowing into your muscles, creating a rapid buildup of waste products and pain. In many instances, this means your set ends not because your muscles are exhausted but because your mind tells you to stop. Drop sets allow you to push past your usual failure point to stimulate more muscle growth. They also extend your time in the “pain cave,” so get ready to hurt!

Adjust the backrest of the machine so that your knees align with the lever arm pivot point. Adjust the leg pad so it rests on your ankles and doesn’t move as you extend your legs.
Sit on the machine with your knees against the edge of the seat. Grip the handles at your sides.
Without kicking or jerking, raise the weight with both legs and then pause briefly.
Lower the weights, stopping just before they touch down, and repeat. Continue until you are unable to perform any more reps.
Lower the weight by 10-15% and then rep out again. Do as many reps as possible.
On reaching failure, reduce the weight by another 10-15% and go again.
Make one more weight reduction and then rest.
That’s one triple drop set – can you do more?!


An effective way to train your muscles beyond failure.
Produces an intense burn and pump.
An excellent finisher to any quad-centric leg workout.


Try not to speed up as you reduce the weights. Maintain good technique throughout, despite the intense burning in your quads.
Do not rest between drops. Transition as quickly as you can between weights.
You can do a single drop set finisher or do several drop sets as preferred.

6. Toes straight/toes in/toes out/toes pointed leg extensions
Muscles targeted: Quadriceps.
This four-exercise giant set is a favorite of legendary bodybuilding coach Harry Rambod, inventor of the popular FST-7 workout method. Rambod specializes in preparing competitors for the biggest shows in bodybuilding, where every muscular details matter. In this giant set, you’ll be altering the angle of your feet to hit your inner and outer thighs more.

Set up for leg extensions as usual. Make sure your toes are facing forward and not rotated. Do 4-6 reps in this position.
Next, turn your toes inward and perform another 4-6 reps. This hits your outer quads.
Without stopping, turn your feet outward to hit your inner quads. Again, pump out 4-6 reps.
Finally, point your toes away from you and do your last 4-6 reps. This emphasizes your upper quads, especially the rectus femoris.
Rest for 2-3 minutes and repeat.


An excellent way to break through training plateaus.
Build the inner, front, and side quads equally.
A very intense workout that’s ideal for experienced exercisers.


Go light – this exercise sequence is extremely tough.
Take care not to twist your knees; turn your toes and hips instead.
Expect severe post-exercise muscle soreness after doing this series for the first time.

7. Leg extension-air squat superset
Muscles targeted: Quadriceps, gluteus maximus, hamstrings.
Supersets involve doing two exercises back to back to extend your set and let you push your muscles beyond failure. While supersets are undoubtedly effective, hogging two sets of gym equipment can make you very unpopular, especially as you won’t actively be using one of them. This quad-killing superset still only uses one machine, so you won’t upset any of your fellow exercisers.

Adjust the backrest of the machine so that, when you sit on it, your knees align with the lever arm pivot point. Adjust the leg pad so it rests on your ankles and doesn’t move as you extend your legs.
Sit on the machine with your knees back against the edge of the seat. Grip the handles at your sides.
Without kicking or jerking, smoothly extend your legs until they are straight.
Bend your legs and lower the weight back down.
Continue until you have no more reps left in the tank.
Hop off the machine and stand beside it with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes turned slightly outward.
Bend your legs and squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
Stand back up, stopping just short of complete lockout, and repeat. Do as many reps as possible.
Rest, enjoy that sick pump and burn, and then repeat – if you dare!


An effective way to push your muscles beyond their usual failure point.
A simple yet intense way to overload your quadriceps.
A space and time-efficient lower body superset workout.


Do alternating lunges or sissy squats if you prefer.
Move quickly from one exercise to the other – no lollygagging.
Raise your heels on blocks for the squats to increase quads engagement.

Do you have a question about leg extensions or lower body training in general? No problem, because we’ve got the answers!
1. How many reps and sets of leg extensions should I do?
Leg extensions generally work best when done for medium to high reps using light to moderate weights, e.g., 12-30. Lower reps mean you’ll be use heavier weights, usually leading to kicking and momentum, which takes the stress away from the target muscles. Save the heavy weights and low reps for squats and deadlifts.
In terms of sets, 3 to 4 should be sufficient for most people. If you feel you can do more, you are either not pushing your muscles close enough to failure or are resting too long between sets.
3 to 4 sets of 12 to 30 reps should be more than enough to fatigue your quads, especially if you are doing them in conjunction with other quads-dominant leg exercises.
2. How often should I train my legs for growth?
While some bodybuilders train their legs once a week, you’ll probably experience better results if you work your lower body 2-3 times per week on non-consecutive days, e.g., Monday and Thursday, or Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
This frequency provides a good balance between training and recovery. Training a muscle group more than once per week makes sense, as it takes about 72 hours for full recovery to occur (2).
3. Are leg extensions a good exercise for strength?
While leg extensions will make you stronger, they are not a good exercise for developing absolute strength. Doing leg extensions with heavy weights and low reps invariably leads to kicking the weight up, making the exercise less effective and potentially dangerous. Movements like squats and deadlifts are much better for building strength.
4. Are leg extensions safe?
There is a risk of injury with any exercise, but leg extensions are relatively safe. Your lower back is unloaded and supported, and you cannot get pinned under a heavy weight if you fail to complete a rep.
There is a significant amount of shearing force on your knees, which puts pressure on the cruciate ligaments, but this should present no problem if your knees are healthy. Use good form and appropriate weights to minimize your risk of injury.
However, if leg extensions cause knee pain, you should avoid this exercise and do something that doesn’t bother your joints.
5. Are leg extensions all I need for my lower body?
As effective as leg extensions are, you need more than this one exercise to build a strong, muscular lower body. While leg extensions work your quads, they don’t involve your hamstrings, glutes, abductors, adductors, or calves. So, in terms of muscle mass, leg extensions only really work about 25% of what’s available.
As such, leg extensions are just one of the exercises you should use to build your legs. A more comprehensive leg workout looks something like this:



Romanian deadlifts

Leg extension

Leg curls

15-20 (per leg)

Standing calf raise

In the table, each row represents an exercise, and the columns represent the number of sets and the range of repetitions for each exercise. For example, Squats should be performed in 3 sets, with 6 to 8 reps in each set. Similarly, Romanian deadlifts should be performed in 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps, and so on.
Wrapping Up
While many people are quick to label leg extensions as non-functional or only good for bodybuilders, it’s actually an excellent tool for prioritizing your quads and improving your knee stability and health. Whether you’re rehabbing, bulking, or endurance training, you can do it all with leg extensions.
But you don’t have to limit yourself to doing regular straight sets of leg extensions; single-leg, 1½ reps, isometric holds, drop sets, etc., are all great ways to spice up your workouts, so get creative! With seven different variations to try, leg extensions need never be boring.

Grob K, Ackland T, Kuster MS, Manestar M, Filgueira L. A newly discovered muscle: The tensor of the vastus intermedius. Clin Anat. 2016 Mar;29(2):256-63. doi: 10.1002/ca.22680. Epub 2016 Jan 6. PMID: 26732825.
Hamarsland H, Moen H, Skaar OJ, Jorang PW, Rødahl HS, Rønnestad BR. Equal-Volume Strength Training With Different Training Frequencies Induces Similar Muscle Hypertrophy and Strength Improvement in Trained Participants. Front Physiol. 2022 Jan 5;12:789403. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2021.789403. PMID: 35069251; PMCID: PMC8766679.

Best Exercises to Lose Belly Fat After 50 — Get Fit and Fabulous

Best Exercises to Lose Belly Fat After 50 — Get Fit and Fabulous

Once you pass your fifth decade, everything gets harder. Building muscle is a great struggle. Getting stronger takes a more dedicated effort. And maintaining a healthy body weight becomes a massive uphill battle. The reasons are clear; your metabolism is slowing down, your testosterone levels are depleting, and you’re naturally losing muscle and strength. So, what can you do about it?
Once you’re past 50, adopting a more intelligent approach to training becomes essential to conquer the innate obstacles to maintaining a healthy weight. Following the gym crowd and doing the old stand-by exercises to lose belly fat won’t cut it.
This article lists the best exercises to lose belly fat after 50. I’ll also lay out the other aspect of weight loss over 50 — how to eat to lose belly fat.
Importance of Losing Belly Fat Over 50

There are two types of fat in your body, subcutaneous and visceral. The fat that is beneath your skin is referred to as subcutaneous fat. This type of fat may be easily grabbed by hand and gathered in the usual “problem areas,” including the thighs, hips, neck, and arms. It accounts for around 80% to 90% of our total body fat.
The remaining 10 to 20 percent is called visceral fat and is found around the liver, spleen, intestines, kidneys, and other internal organs, as well as beneath the stomach muscles. It sometimes goes by “deep fat” since it covers your internal organs and fills the spaces between your stomach, intestines, liver, and other organs. [1]
Subcutaneous fat differs from belly fat, which is far more hazardous because it increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and inflammatory disorders. Belly fat forces the abdominal muscles outward because it is harder than subcutaneous fat.
These deep abdominal fat cells transfer their free fatty acids directly to the liver rather than releasing them into the bloodstream. Triglycerides and cholesterol are other types of fat that the liver creates in reaction and release into the bloodstream. Free fatty acids are the types of fat that are released from fat cells and carried into the blood, whereas triglycerides are another type of blood-borne fat that the body uses as an energy source. Increased risk of cardiovascular disease is linked to high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. 
Challenges of Losing Belly Fat Over 50

Once past 50, you will find it increasingly difficult to keep your belly fat down to healthy levels. It’s not that your willpower to resist tempting foods is lower. Here are four physiological reasons you’re more prone to putting on belly fat over 50: 
1. Reduced Metabolism
At around 30, most people’s metabolisms decline by about 1% every two years. Although the exact cause of our aging metabolism is unknown, it most likely involves a decline in muscle mass and a shift in hormone levels. Men produce less testosterone, while women’s estrogen levels decrease after menopause. [2]
2. Less Muscle
Age-related muscle loss, or sarcopenia, kicks in from about the age of 40. Because muscle is more active metabolically than fat, having less of it negatively affects our metabolic rate. As a result, you won’t burn as many calories at rest, making it easier for that spare tire to develop around your belly. [3]
3. Lifestyle
Most people tend to slow down as they age. By the time they reach their 50s, most folks stop playing sports, no longer play with the kids, and spend more time on the couch. That means fewer calories burned throughout the day. 
4. Stress
When we experience chronic stress, our cortisol levels increase dramatically. This can indirectly contribute to higher levels of belly fat. As we get older, our stress levels can increase due to many factors, including work stressors, financial problems, and the concerns of looking after elderly parents.
Cortisol can increase the desire for comfort foods with high caloric content, particularly those high in carbohydrates and fats. These are the very foods that contribute to increases in belly fat.
Cortisol encourages fat storage, particularly visceral fat, which builds up around the abdominal organs. In fact, the hormone can actually redistribute subcutaneous fat to visceral fat.
Cortisol also has a catabolic effect on muscle tissue, causing a breakdown of amino acids. This can contribute to age-related muscle loss. [4]
15 Diet & Nutrition Tips To Lose Belly Fat Loss Over 50
As we’ve learned, excess belly fat is aesthetically unpleasing and dangerous. It puts you at a higher risk of cancer, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and depression. Fortunately, it is possible to reduce your belly fat levels dramatically.
Here are 15 diet and nutrition tips that will complement your exercise-based efforts to reduce the spare tire: 
1. Increase Your Fiber Intake
You can shed belly fat by increasing the amount of soluble fiber in your diet. This is because fiber will assist in lowering your blood sugar levels. You’ll experience stable insulin levels as a result.
Fiber, which is incredibly filling, also serves as the body’s natural cleaner. It enhances digestion and improves waste excretion. A 2011 study found that a 10-gram increase in soluble fiber consumption over a five-year period reduced belly fat accumulation by 3.7%. [5]
The best sources of fibrous carbs are brightly colored vegetables and berries, including strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, beans, lentils, and other legumes.

2. Reduce Your Alcohol Intake
Unsurprisingly, overindulging in alcohol can lead to a ‘beer gut.’ In fact, if you are trying to reduce your belly fat, alcohol will be one of your worst enemies. Alcohol contains zero proteins, carbohydrates, or fats. In other words, it has no nutritional benefit whatsoever, and every gram of alcohol adds seven calories to your system.
After you drink alcohol, your body prioritizes metabolizing it. That means your body will first burn alcohol instead of fat, postponing your ability to burn off the spare tire. 
Alcohol puts almost twice as many calories per gram into your body than carbs and protein (seven versus four). And those calories are much easier to consume than the solid foods we eat to get macronutrients into our system. As a result, it is extremely easy to take in hundreds, even thousands, of zero-nutrition calories from alcohol in an evening. 
Alcohol slows down the central nervous system and lowers inhibitions. One of the effects of this is that people eat more when they are drinking. And the foods that are normally consumed on these occasions are those that are high in simple carbs. All of this is a sure-fire recipe for fat gain.
Alcohol hurts food digestion, leading to reduced efficiency in breaking down fats for fuel, impeding the weight loss process.
Alcohol has a negative effect on testosterone production. Testosterone is an important hormone for fat loss, so its alcohol-induced lowered release will directly impact fat-burning ability.
The bottom line here is if you’re serious about getting rid of visceral body fat, you need to cut back on the booze. [6]
3. Consume More Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Your feelings, behavior, and physique aesthetics will change dramatically if you consume more omega-3 fatty acids, particularly while following a weight loss program.
Here’s what increasing your omega-3 intake will do for you:

Boost your insulin sensitivity
Aid with fat burning
Boost your metabolism
Reduce cortisol production and increase your energy
Assist with muscle growth

The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are eggs, fatty fish, chia seeds, walnuts, and flaxseeds. [7]
4. Eat More Monounsaturated Fats
Monounsaturated fats have the power to lower insulin and LDL cholesterol levels. Here are five excellent sources of monounsaturated fats:

Avocado Oil
Coconut Oil 

5. Eliminate Processed Grains
Processed grain products include cereal, bagels, pasta, bread, and bagels. The nutritional content of the grains is reduced while the calorie density is increased by milling, refining, and bleaching. That’s not a healthy combination.
Although whole grain types are preferable because they still contain some fiber and nutrients, even these are processed to some extent and may be high in calories.
However, you should only consume only whole grains going forward. That means avoiding products made from white pasta, rice, or flour. [8]
6. Prepare for Snack Time
A vital tactic for effective weight loss is predicting and planning when you’re likely to feel hungry throughout the day. When hunger strikes, having ready-to-eat, homemade snacks can come in handy.
Here are five tasty, straightforward snacks:

Apple crisps  
A nutritious smoothie
Hard-boiled eggs
A can of water-packed tuna

7. Reduce Liquid Calorie Intake
Liquid calories have several significant issues. Refined sugars are frequently used in weight loss smoothies as flavoring. Others use preservatives to enhance flavor and mixability. Those who consume solid meals feel satiated longer than those who use meal-replacement beverages.
In a 2007 study, test subjects were given solid food and a meal replacement shake, and their degree of satiety was monitored over the next four hours. 
The satiety levels were much higher in the solid food group. In fact, the meal replacement group’s body didn’t even recognize that they had eaten from a chemical standpoint. [9]
8. Increase Water Intake
Hydration is crucial to a successful weight-loss strategy. Water can also help increase metabolism. Participants in a study who drank 16 ounces of water daily experienced a 30% rise in their metabolism. [10]
Always keep a water bottle with you. To stay full, regularly sip from it. Drinking water will also assist you in satisfying your thirst so that you don’t confuse it with hunger.

9. Begin Meal Prepping
One of the keys to sticking to your smart eating plan is prepping your meals in advance. This involves keeping a couple of hours aside, usually on the weekend, to prepare your weekly meals. 
This greatly eases your search for nutritious options that adhere to your macronutrient guidelines. Meal planning will also significantly reduce your likelihood of reverting to poor eating patterns.
10. Avoid Trans Fatty Acids
Unsaturated lipids become trans fatty acids when hydrogen is introduced. They have been demonstrated to increase belly fat in addition to being connected to heart disease and insulin resistance. According to one study, eating a lot of trans fats can increase belly fat by 33%. [11]
11. Do a 14-Day Detox
To get rid of toxins and other impurities in your body, try a 14-day detox. The doors of fat loss may effectively be flung open by this. It’s not necessary to starve during a cleanse. It involves giving your body the proper nutrients to remove toxins and restore its natural equilibrium. 
12. Increase Coconut Oil Consumption

Recent years have seen a lot of research focused on the coconut. Many of these studies have focused on how they can aid in weight loss.
Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids that do not circulate in the bloodstream like long-chain fatty acids. Instead, they are sent to the liver, which turns them into energy. As a result, your body turns to coconut oil for energy rather than storing the calories as fat.
According to some studies, switching from olive oil, which contains long-chain fatty acids, to coconut oil, which contains medium-chain fatty acids, results in greater fat reduction. Coconut oil is particularly helpful for decreasing weight around the abdomen, where visceral fat collects. Because it is linked to so many ailments, visceral fat is the most harmful type of fat.
In a recent study, one ounce of coconut oil was added to women’s diets with excessive abdominal fat. Both their waist circumference and their BMI significantly decreased after 12 weeks. This was accomplished without any exercise or other dietary changes. [12]
13. Add Herbs to your Meals
Several plants have been used by indigenous peoples worldwide for centuries to help with weight loss. In recent decades, science has confirmed the effectiveness of some of them. Here are three of the best:


14. Consume More Protein

Protein aids in fat loss in addition to helping you develop muscle. This is because protein has the strongest thermogenic effect of all the macronutrients, is very filling, and reduces hunger. As a result, it requires more energy to digest than fats or carbohydrates.
When paired with weight resistance exercise, protein’s ability to build muscle also aids in belly fat reduction. Maintaining muscle demands five times as many calories as maintaining body fat. Therefore, the more muscular you are, the leaner you will be!
Plan to consume one gram of protein per pound of body weight, with your preferred protein sources being eggs, chicken, fish, legumes, Greek yogurt, and cream cheese. [13]
Related: Try Our Protein Calculator
15. Cut Yourself Some Slack
It is important to be realistic when trying to lose belly fat. When you try to lead a healthy lifestyle, you’ll find yourself moving in the opposite direction from the vast majority of people. The environment you are in will constantly provide you with temptations. It’s ridiculous to expect yourself to never make a mistake. Remember that a poor eating decision won’t halt your progress.
The key takeaway is that you shouldn’t punish yourself if you make a poor nutritional choice or skip an exercise. Your ability to succeed depends on developing long-lasting habits that you can maintain. An occasional slip-up won’t hamper your results.
Best Exercises to Lose Belly Fat Over 50
Losing weight, and keeping it off, is all about consistency. Sticking to a balanced training and diet plan to create a calorie deficit will help you shed unwanted pounds effectively and sustain your weight loss progress over time.
The key to success is incorporating a sustainable exercise schedule into your lifestyle. Let’s find out how it should (and shouldn’t) be done.
How Not to Lose Belly Fat
Let’s get it straight from the outset, you will not lose belly fat by doing hundreds of sit-ups, crunches, leg raises, or other exercises for your abdominal muscles. The reason is simple; you cannot spot-reduce belly fat. In other words, doing a thousand crunches will not burn fat off your belly fat.
Fat comes off the body evenly. So, when you do a calorie-burning exercise, you cannot dictate what part of the body it will come from. Depending on your genetics, the fat might come off the belly and the sides of the waist (the dreaded love handles) last. When you build muscle, you will also increase your metabolism to burn more calories.
Exercise Type: Fast or Slow?

There is a lot of confusion about what type of cardiovascular exercise is best for weight loss. It boils down to two options — long and slow cardio or fast and short cardio. Both sides have their passionate advocates, yet the current scientific consensus is squarely on the side of fast, short, high-intensity sessions. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves quick bursts of high-intensity training followed by short rest periods.
The best HIIT exercises will allow you to use maximum exertion to burn maximum calories. Running is a great choice, allowing for hard-out sprints (imagine a Doberman is chasing you) followed by a slow jog. Incorporating HIIT training into your exercise schedule thrice weekly will help you burn calories while exercising and turn your body into a fat-burning furnace by boosting your metabolism for the next 24 hours. [14]
The best exercises to reduce belly fat for men are those that burn the most calories. Combine this with a healthy diet, and your belly girth will decrease. Here are the six effective belly fat exercises to reduce fat from your midline: 
Exercising on a treadmill is the most popular form of cardio exercise in gyms worldwide. However, most people do not do it with enough intensity. Walking at 2 miles an hour while reading a book will not cut it. A far better way to go is HIIT. This involves interpreting short sprints with even shorter rest periods for multiple bouts. 
Tabata is another effective form of HIIT workout for fat loss. It involves a slow two-minute warmup and a 20 seconds max speed sprint. You then throw your legs out to the side of the running belt for 10 seconds. That is one round. The workout involves performing eight rounds. It is extremely hard work but burns a ton of calories. Then, thanks to what is known as the enhanced post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) effect, you will have an elevated metabolism for the next 24-36 hours!

Rowing Machine
The rowing machine is another excellent exercise that will help you reduce fat around your belly. This exercise involves your whole body and gets your heart and lungs in good shape. While rowing, stay upright and move through a full range of motion, pushing through the legs. [15]
Here’s an awesome fat-burning rowing machine workout that combines the rowing machine with body weight and free-weight exercises:

Row at a steady pace for 10 minutes.
Jump off the machine and do 10 dumbbell overhead presses.
Do 10 standing torso twists or cross-body punches.
Row at a steady pace for 10 minutes.
Jump off the machine and do 10 lateral shuffle walks.
Now do 15 kettlebell swings.
Row at a steady pace for 10 minutes.
Jump off the machine and do a 30-second plank.
Now do 10 step-ups.

Jumping Jacks
Jumping jacks is a classic old-school cardio exercise you can do anywhere, anytime, to burn off those excess calories. To perform them, start with your legs together and your arms by your sides. Take a small jump straight up and, as you do, move your legs apart. At the same time, swing your arms up above your head into a clap. Take another small jump and return your arms and legs to their starting position. 
You can use jumping jacks to burn off calories as a stand-alone exercise or add them to your workout routine. For example, if you are doing a weight training program, do 20 jumping jacks between each set.

The burpee is another old-school bodyweight exercise that must be a part of your training regimen. This is, in fact, one of the highest calorie-burning exercises that you can do without any equipment. 
Here is how to perform the burpee:

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and your arms by your sides.
Drop down into a push-up position, kicking your feet back behind you.
Perform a push-up.
Jump your feet back toward your hands.
Spring up into the air to return to the start position.

Burpees can be performed in HIIT fashion, making them an even more effective fat burner. Here is an example of how you can do this:

Do burpees for 20 seconds.
Rest for 10 seconds.
Do another 20-second round of burpees.
Rest for 10 seconds.
Repeat until you have completed eight rounds, aiming to maintain the same number of burpees in each round.

Step-ups are another effective calorie burner that you can do without any equipment. Besides helping you reduce belly fat, this exercise will work on your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. Here is how to perform step-ups:

Stand out 12 inches away from a step or bench with a hip-width stance. 
Place your right foot on an elevated surface while the left is grounded. 
Drive your right foot into the surface and extend your leg. Both your feet should be together at the top. 
Reverse the movement to lower yourself to the floor. 
Switch between legs or complete recommended reps on the same side between changing sides. 
Always keep your body straight and tall. Avoid the temptation to lean forward from your hips. Hold a pair of dumbbells in your hands to burn even more calories.

Shuttle Sprints
This is a challenging cardio calorie burner that will also improve your agility. 

Set up two markers on the floor 3 yards apart. 
Begin with your hand on one of the markers in a sprint stance. 
Sprint to the other marker and touch it with your hand. 
Immediately sprint back to the other marker.

Lift Weight to Lose Weight
The second tier of your weight loss exercise regimen needs to involve some form of resistance training. There is conclusive evidence that exercise involving muscle contraction burns more calories and assists in fat loss. 
Incorporating weight training into your exercise schedule will not only boost your fat-burning efforts but also ensure that you are not losing vital muscle tissue. In the process, it will help build your dream physique. [16]
Lifting weights burns a considerable amount of calories. That is especially the case when you perform what are known as compound moves, such as deadlifts, that involve several muscle groups working together. But there’s an extra benefit. After you finish your workout, your body will have a greater need for oxygen to meet the demands that your workout has placed on your muscles. This brings on the EPOC effect. 
EPOC stands for excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption, and it leads to a higher metabolic rate for up to 24 hours. That means you burn more calories for up to a day after your workout.
When you work a muscle with weights, you place stress on that muscle. This can cause micro-tears in the muscle fiber. When you recover after the workout, your body uses energy to rebuild the muscle. That, too, is burning calories from stored body fat. 
Weight training is the best way to add muscle mass. Muscle is much more dense than fat. It takes up more space and burns five times more calories than fat. So, every ounce of muscle you add makes you more of a fat-burning machine. That’s why resistance training should be integral to your belly fat loss program. I recommend doing resistance exercises at least twice weekly. 
Rather than doing multiple sets of the same exercise before moving to the next one, you will do all five exercises consecutively, with a minimum amount of rest between exercises. Don’t rest at all between exercises one and two. Then give yourself 30 seconds to regain your breath before doing exercises three and four. Rest another 30 seconds before doing exercise number five.
Go through this circuit thrice, resting for two minutes between each circuit.
For each consecutive workout, your goal will be to add more resistance to the bar. However, only do so when you are confident that you have optimized your form on that movement.
Here is your six exercises resistance training circuit for weight loss:
Dumbbell Bench Press 
Prime Mover: Pectorals

Sit on the end of a bench with dumbbells resting on your thighs. Roll back onto the bench, bringing the dumbbells up to arm’s length above your chest. 
Breathe in as you expand your chest and lower the dumbbells to the sides of your chest. Be sure to go down to a point at least an inch lower than your nipples. 
In the bottom position, your scapulae should be squeezing together. Now breathe out as you power back to the start position.

Farmer’s Walk 
Prime Mover: Quadriceps

Select a pair of light dumbbells of an appropriate weight.
Stand between the dumbbells and bend down to grip the handles. Lift the dumbbells by driving up through your heels while keeping your back straight and your head up.
Take an exaggerated step that requires you to lunge. The longer the step, the more emphasis is placed on your glutes, while shorter steps maximize the effect on the thighs.
Pushing off with your forward leg, continue lunge walking until you have covered the set distance.

Prime Mover: Upper Back

Stand in front of the bar so that your midfoot is under the bar and your feet are shoulder-width apart.
Grab the bar by bending the knees but maintaining a neutral spine. Hold the bar with a shoulder-wide mixed grip.
Push through your heels as you pull with your hips, not your arms. Your hips should be higher than the knees at the start of the pull.
Bring the hips, shoulders, and chest up together as the bar comes off the floor. You want the bar to travel directly up and close to your body.
As the bar reaches the mid-thigh level, squeeze your glutes tightly to prevent pulling with your lower back. At the same time, pull your shoulders back. 
Continue pulling until you are standing erect. 

Kettlebell High Pull
Prime Movers: Quadriceps / Glutes

Holding a light kettlebell, and with your feet shoulder-width apart, squat down with a neutral spine and your hips slightly higher than your knees. Your shoulders should be ahead of the kettlebell.
Simultaneously pull down through your feet while driving your hips up and forward. Pull the kettlebell up toward your chin. This movement should bring you up on your toes.
Immediately squat back down into the start position.

Incline Dumbbell Curl
Prime Mover: Biceps

Set an incline bar at a 45-degree angle. Grasp two dumbbells with an underhand grip.
Curl the weights towards your shoulders.
Stop and squeeze your biceps when the dumbbells are 6 to 8 inches in front of your shoulders. Hold the contraction, squeezing tight, for 2 seconds.
Slowly return the dumbbells to the starting position. Be sure to resist gravity during eccentrics.

Lying Triceps Extension 
Prime Mover: Triceps

Lie face up on a bench with a pair of dumbbells in your hands.
Extend your arms directly above your upper chest.
Keeping the elbows in, bend at the elbows as you bring the dumbbells down at the sides of your forehead.

Contract the triceps to return to the start position.

Putting It Together
Now that we’ve identified the types of exercise that best fit your weight loss exercise schedule, let’s consider the frequency of performing those movements. You must exercise five days a week. You will perform your HIIT exercises on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. As already explained, HIIT involves short-duration workouts. In fact, you’ll only have to allocate six minutes to your workouts on those days.
Here’s how it will look:

Choose an exercise you are comfortable performing with maximum intensity (sprinting, cycling, and skipping are good options).
Perform a medium-intensity warmup for two minutes.
Perform 20 seconds of maximum intensity.
Recover for 10 seconds.
Repeat this sequence until 4 minutes are up.

On Tuesday and Thursday, you will perform your resistance training workout. On each exercise, you will perform 12 repetitions. Then move directly to your next exercise until you have completed the six-exercise circuit. Work up to doing four rounds of this circuit workout.
Supplement Strategies to Lose Belly Fat Over 50
The are four mechanisms used by fat loss supplements to help users strip off body fat:

Appetite suppression
Increased metabolism
Increased fat oxidation
Boosted energy levels

Here are five supplements you can consider for your weight loss program:
Caffeine has been a foundational ingredient in fat burners from the very start. Its main appeal is its ability to speed up metabolism. Each milligram of caffeine you add to your body has been shown to increase your metabolic rate by about one calorie to a maximum of about a hundred calories daily. Caffeine also reduces perceived exertion during exercise. That means you can work harder for longer and burn more calories. 
Caffeine also can focus your energy consumption during exercise on your fat reserves rather than stored glucose. The evidence that caffeine suppresses the appetite is not very strong. 
Too much caffeine, however, is not a good thing. The maximum daily dosage should be limited to around 300 mg (250 mg for women).
Coffee Caffeine
L-Carnitine is added to fat burners to increase fat oxidation. That’s because it has been shown to play a key role in transporting long-chain fatty acids into the cell’s mitochondria, where energy is produced. The body naturally produces carnitine, but it quickly depletes when exercising. Adding it to your fat burner will help to replenish your carnitine levels and speed up fat oxidation.
Look for a supplement that provides 1-3 grams of carnitine daily.
Green Tea
Green tea comes from the camellia sinensis plant. It is rich in polyphenols, including catechins and flavonoids. Catechins have been shown to be especially beneficial for fat loss, boosting the metabolism. The star among the catechins when it comes to fat burning is a compound called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG will boost your metabolism and work with L-carnitine to promote fat oxidation.
Green tea also gives you an energy boost. The ideal daily dosage of green tea for fat loss is 100 mg. Some products will individually list EGCG on the ingredient label. In that case, look for 500 mg.
Green Tea
Capsicum contains a polyphenol known as capsaicinoids. This compound provides a hot and spicy flavor to hundreds of foods. It has been shown to have some pretty impressive fat-burning benefits. For one thing, capsaicinoids increase the core temperature of the body. Your body will then work overtime to bring the temperature back to a state of homeostasis. This takes up energy, which burns calories. 
Capsaicinoids also break down adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the main form of energy in the body. It has also been shown to boost the body’s lipase production, which breaks down fat for energy.
The roots of the konjac plant are used to make the dietary fiber glucomannan. It has an incredible capacity for water absorption, which transforms it into a thick, gel-like substance. It multiplies to many times its original size when ingested because it combines with bodily fluids. Your stomach has to make place for this, which causes you to feel full. In this manner, glucomannan aids in appetite suppression so that you consume fewer calories throughout the day and finish with a net calorie deficit.
In addition to making more room in your stomach, glucomannan also delays stomach emptying and lessens the absorption of fats and proteins. The recommended dosage is one gram taken three times daily.
This article provided a complete blueprint for losing belly fat over 50. You’ve been given the ideal balance of cardiovascular exercises to burn calories and resistance training to increase muscle mass and stoke your fat-burning furnace. At the same time, you’ve been given a wealth of nutrition and dietary tips to get you beyond the barriers to belly fat loss.
It’s now over to you to put all this belly fat-burning knowledge into action. Don’t let procrastination hold you back. Instead, resolve to start your workout program tomorrow, starting with the three weekly HIIT workouts and then adding in two circuit weight training sessions. Then, work through the 14 nutritional tips, incorporating one new tip daily into your routine over the next two weeks. Stay positive, remain consistent, and you will steadily lose that stubborn belly fat. 

Tchernof A, Després JP. Pathophysiology of human visceral obesity: an update. Physiol Rev. 2013 Jan;93(1):359-404. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00033.2011. PMID: 23303913.
Palmer AK, Jensen MD. Metabolic changes in aging humans: current evidence and therapeutic strategies. J Clin Invest. 2022 Aug 15;132(16):e158451. doi: 10.1172/JCI158451. PMID: 35968789; PMCID: PMC9374375.
Hunter GR, Singh H, Carter SJ, Bryan DR, Fisher G. Sarcopenia and Its Implications for Metabolic Health. J Obes. 2019 Mar 6;2019:8031705. doi: 10.1155/2019/8031705. PMID: 30956817; PMCID: PMC6431367.
Van der Valk ES, Savas M, van Rossum EFC. Stress and Obesity: Are There More Susceptible Individuals? Curr Obes Rep. 2018 Jun;7(2):193-203. doi: 10.1007/s13679-018-0306-y. PMID: 29663153; PMCID: PMC5958156.
Burton-Freeman B. Dietary fiber and energy regulation. J Nutr. 2000 Feb;130(2S Suppl):272S-275S. doi: 10.1093/jn/130.2.272S. PMID: 10721886.
Zivkovic, Angela M, et al. “Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acids Aid in the Modulation of Inflammation and Metabolic Health.” California Agriculture, U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 2011, 
Harris Jackson K, West SG, Vanden Heuvel JP, Jonnalagadda SS, Ross AB, Hill AM, Grieger JA, Lemieux SK, Kris-Etherton PM. Effects of whole and refined grains in a weight-loss diet on markers of metabolic syndrome in individuals with increased waist circumference: a randomized controlled-feeding trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Aug;100(2):577-86. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.078048. Epub 2014 Jun 18. PMID: 24944054; PMCID: PMC4095661.
Stull, April J, et al. “Liquid and Solid Meal Replacement Products Differentially Affect Postprandial Appetite and Food Intake in Older Adults.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association, U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 2008
Boschmann, Michael, et al. “Water-Induced Thermogenesis.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dec. 2003
Dorfman, Suzanne E, et al. “Metabolic Implications of Dietary Trans-Fatty Acids.” Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2009
Assunção, Monica L, et al. “Effects of Dietary Coconut Oil on the Biochemical and Anthropometric Profiles of Women Presenting Abdominal Obesity.” Lipids, U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 2009
Batterham, Rachel L, et al. “Critical Role for Peptide YY in Protein-Mediated Satiation and Body-Weight Regulation.” Cell Metabolism, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2006
Atakan MM, Li Y, Koşar ŞN, Turnagöl HH, Yan X. Evidence-Based Effects of High-Intensity Interval Training on Exercise Capacity and Health: A Review with Historical Perspective. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jul 5;18(13):7201. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18137201. PMID: 34281138; PMCID: PMC8294064.
Hansen RK, Samani A, Laessoe U, Handberg A, Mellergaard M, Figlewski K, Thijssen DHJ, Gliemann L, Larsen RG. Rowing exercise increases cardiorespiratory fitness and brachial artery diameter but not traditional cardiometabolic risk factors in spinal cord-injured humans. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2023 Jun;123(6):1241-1255. doi: 10.1007/s00421-023-05146-y. Epub 2023 Feb 13. PMID: 36781425; PMCID: PMC9924870.
Willis LH, Slentz CA, Bateman LA, Shields AT, Piner LW, Bales CW, Houmard JA, Kraus WE. Effects of aerobic and/or resistance training on body mass and fat mass in overweight or obese adults. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2012 Dec 15;113(12):1831-7. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01370.2011. Epub 2012 Sep 27. PMID: 23019316; PMCID: PMC3544497.

The 30-Day Arm Challenge for Dramatic Size & Strength Gains

The 30-Day Arm Challenge for Dramatic Size & Strength Gains

Big arms demand immediate respect.
They are the body’s “show muscles,”; the most frequently displayed part. So the faster we can add size to our biceps, triceps, and forearms, the better.
However, most lifters fail to grow their arms. You might be one of them.
Are you having trouble making your forearms bigger? Have your biceps reached the height of their potential? Are you unable to get that amazing triceps horseshoe out?
What’s needed is an intervention — a short, sharp arms shock that will leave your bis, tris, and forearms no choice but to respond.
This 30-day arm challenge is designed to do just that.
Understanding the Arm Muscles
The arms consist of the following three muscle groups:
Biceps Anatomy
The biceps brachii muscle comprises two heads — long and short. The short head originates higher than the long head on the scapular. The radius, or forearm bone, is connected to the one tendon that traverses the elbow joint and receives both the long and short heads.
The biceps are responsible for extending the elbow. They also have a small impact on shoulder flexion, which occurs when the arm extends in front of the body.

The triceps is situated behind the biceps, on the upper arm. The biceps and triceps are opposing muscle groups so that when one contracts, the other relaxes. Since its purpose is to straighten the arm, any exercise that requires you to do so while facing resistance will engage your triceps. 
The triceps muscle has three heads:


The region immediately below the side of the shoulder is known as the outer or lateral head. This head gives the arm a thicker, more robust appearance when fully developed and originates at the shoulder socket on the scapula. The long and medial heads originate at the top of the humerus, or upper arm. The triceps tendon is attached to the olecranon process of the ulna, the bigger of the two forearm bones, where all three heads of the triceps insert. 
When completely developed, the triceps give the back of the upper arm a horseshoe shape.

The muscles of the forearms can be divided into four groups:

Extrinsic muscles

The flexor muscles are located on the side of the palm. The extensor muscles are on the side of the back of your hand. The forearm rotators supinate the hand, rotating it externally. They also pronate it to move in internally.
The fingers are moved by very small muscles divided into extrinsic muscles on the forearm and intrinsic muscles in the hand itself. 
The forearm is capable of six actions. These are:

Wrist Flexion
Wrist Extension
Wrist Abduction
Wrist Adduction
Forearm Supination
Forearm Pronation

Should Women Train Their Arms Differently?

No, women should not train their arms differently from men. Men and women should not only perform the same forearm, biceps, and triceps movements, but they also shouldn’t use different rep ranges. In the past, women have been advised to tone their arms by using those lovely pink lightweight dumbbells and focusing on high repetitions. That counsel, however well-intentioned it may have been, will not produce the outcomes that most women desire.
Any lady I have ever met with strong, athletic arms has managed to lift what seemed like a heavy object to them. These women’s lack of testosterone, rather than their training methods, was the main reason their arms didn’t get bulky.
The musculature of men and women is the same despite our hormones being different. As a result, this 30-day arm challenge is just as effective for women as it is for men. 
30-Day Challenge Overview
The 30-day Arm Challenge is divided into four 7-day phases as follows:

Strength A
Hypertrophy A
Strength B
Hypertrophy B

Strength and size go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. Each week you will develop greater arm strength to propel muscle growth. You will train each body part (biceps, triceps, and forearms) twice to thrice weekly. 
Let’s now drill down on each of the four training phases:
Phase One: Strength

Rep ranges: 4-6 & 6-8
Focus: Strength development / Balanced strength across arm muscles
Rep Style: Straight sets
Main Stimulus: Central nervous system

The exercises selected for this stage are those that most people struggle with. As a result, you can improve your arm strength and balance, preparing you for the hypertrophy phase. 
You will gradually increase the weight with each set during each strength phase. Your final set will be the heaviest weight you can lift while maintaining perfect technique. As a result, if you are performing eight reps, a ninth rep would be impossible for you to complete with good form.
Phase Two: Hypertrophy

Rep range: 10-12, 12-15, 15-20
Focus: Muscular development (hypertrophy) / targeting muscle heads
Rep Style: Tri-sets
Main Stimulus: Muscular system

The goal of Phase Two is to build the various muscle heads. Tri Sets are a part of your Phase 2 exercises. You perform these three exercises back-to-back. You can rest for 10 seconds between exercises and 120 seconds before your next round. 

Phase Three: Strength

Rep ranges: 3-5 / 5-7
Focus: Strength development / Balanced strength across arm muscles
Rep Style: Straight sets
Main Stimulus: Central nervous system

During your second strength phase, you will lower your reps slightly from Phase One. Your body has already adapted to the 4-6, 6-8 rep range, so you need to go lower to continue getting stronger. You will be alternating between biceps and triceps exercises over four exercises. Rest between sets ranges between 60 and 120 seconds. 
Phase Four: Hypertrophy

Rep range: 12
Focus: Muscular development (Hypertrophy) / targeting muscle heads (double emphasis)
Rep Style: Supersets
Main Stimulus: Muscular system

During this phase, you will double down on a particular muscle head by performing supersets (i.e., Scott curls and prone incline curls for the short biceps head). This forces the body to recruit maximal muscle fibers. After each superset, you will rest for 90 seconds. The workout will consist of a bicep superset (A1 & A2) followed by a triceps superset (A3 & A4). Then, move on to your second biceps superset (B1 & B2) and a final triceps superset (B3 & B4). 
The Workouts
Here’s what the workout split for the four phases looks like for this 30-day arm challenge:

Strength A: Days 1-8
Hypertrophy A: Days 9-16
Strength B: Days 17-23
Hypertrophy B: Days 24-30

You won’t train your arms daily, as it can lead to over-training. Instead, you will train them every 48 hours. Recent research shows this is the ideal time frame for optimal hypertrophy and recovery. [2]
Here is an overview of your training days:

Day 1
Workout One
Day 2
Day 3
Workout Two
Day 4
Day 5
Workout Three
Day 6
Day 7

Day 8
Workout Four
Day 9
Day 10
Workout Five
Day 11
Day 12
Workout Six
Day 13
Day 14
Workout Seven

Day 15
Day 16
Workout Eight
Day 17
Day 18
Workout Nine
Day 19
Day 20
Workout Ten
Day 21

Day 22
Workout Eleven
Day 23
Day 24
Workout Twelve
Day 25
Day 26
Workout Thirteen
Day 27
Day 28
Workout Fourteen

Day 29
Day 30
Workout Fifteen

Phase One Workouts: Days 1-8
Your phase one workout consists of a pair of superset exercises that have you alternate a biceps and triceps exercise. Moving between the superset exercises should take you at most 10 seconds. That means you must have each exercise set and ready to go before you begin your workout. Rest for 90-120 seconds between supersets. 
Superset A

Optimized Exercise Form:
Preacher Cable Curls:

Take an underhand grip on the barbell or EZ curl bar before settling into a preacher curl bench position. Your chest and upper arms should be in touch with the arm pad once you adjust the seat.
Keeping your chin tucked the entire time, extend your arms down the pads with a slight bend in the elbows. Keep your wrists in a neutral position and use a relaxed grip. 
Squeeze your biceps and bend your elbows to start the upward movement while keeping your upper arms in touch with the arm pad. Lift until your shoulders are in line with the barbell or EZ bar.
Squeeze your biceps in the top contracted position.
Slowly straighten your elbows to bring the barbell back to the beginning position.

Close-Grip Bench Press:

Lay down on a flat bench with your feet planted on the floor. Grab a barbell with a grip that is just inside your shoulder width. 
Unrack the bar.
From a starting position with the bar hovering above your chest, slowly lower the bar to your lower chest while keeping your elbows close to your body. 
Press the bar firmly back up to the starting position.

SuperSet B

Close-Grip Chin-Ups: 4 x 8,6,6,4
Dips: 4 x 8,6,6,4


Reverse Curls: 3 x 12,10, 8

Optimized Exercise Form:
Close-Grip Chin-Ups

Reach up and hold the bar with a supinated grip and your little fingers about six inches apart. 
Pull your chin up to and over the bar by pulling with your biceps and back.
Holding your arms in the highest contracted position, squeeze your biceps as hard as possible for a two-second hold.
Lower back to starting position under control.


Grab parallel bars with a neutral grip, then lift yourself until your arms are completely extended. Maintain an upright body position with straight legs.
Now, descend by bending your elbows to bring your torso toward the floor (do not allow your elbows to flare out to the side). 
Push through the triceps to return to the start position. 

Reverse Curls

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a pair of dumbbells held at arm’s length with a pronated grip in front of your thighs.
Maintaining a neutral spine and keeping your elbows at your sides, bring the weights up to shoulder level.
Lower under control and repeat.

Phase Two Workouts: Days 9-16
Your phase two workout consists of a pair of tri-sets. Moving between each exercise in the tri-sets should take at most 10 seconds. Rest for 120 seconds between tri-sets.
TriSet A

Alternate Dumbbell Curls: 3 x 20/15/10
Tricep Pushdowns: 3 x 20/15/10
Incline Dumbbell Hammer Curls: 3 x 20/15/10

Optimized Exercise Form:
Alternate Dumbbell Curl

Hold dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing inward towards your thighs while standing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Turn your right wrist to the front while keeping your elbow at your sides. Curl the weight up until your bicep is fully contracted. 
Lower under control reversing the wrist motion so that your palms face your thighs in the bottom position again.
Repeat with the other arm.

Tricep Pushdown

Stand in front of a high pulley cable with a rope attachment. Hold the bottom of the rope handles with your elbows pinned to your sides.
Your hands should be at mid-chest level at the start position. Extend your arms down and slightly outward to fully extend the triceps.
Return to the start position under control and repeat.

Triceps Kickbacks

Grab a light dumbbell in your right hand and stand with your torso at a 45-degree angle and your left hand resting on your thigh. 
Fully extend your right arm back from the starting position.
Revere and repeat, making sure not to use momentum to lift the weight.

TriSet B

Skullcrusher: 3 x 20/15/10
Barbell Curl: 3 x 20/15/10
Triceps Kickbacks: 3 x 20/15/10


Zottman Curl: 3 x 20/15/10

Optimized Exercise Form:

Lie on a flat bench with your feet firmly set on the floor. Hold a pair of dumbbells in your hands and hold them above your chest. Angle your arms slightly toward your head.
Keeping your elbows in, bend at the elbows to slowly bring the weight down and over your head. Do not move the position of your upper arms as you lower the dumbbells.
Press through the triceps to return to the start position.

Barbell Curls

Grab a barbell with your hands at shoulder width. 
Keeping your elbows at your sides, bring your forearms up while squeezing your biceps. Contract as strongly as you can in the top position. 
In that position, your knuckles should be at the level of your shoulders.
Now, slowly lower the bar to the start position. This eccentric portion of the rep should take twice as long as the concentric lifting portion.

Zottman Curls

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a pair of dumbbells held at arm’s length with a neutral grip.
Supinate the dumbbells during the eccentric motion. Your palms should face the ceiling when your hands are at your chest level. 
Rotate your hands into a pronated (palms down) position. 
Slowly lower the dumbbells to the start position. 
Rinse and repeat.

Phase Three Workouts: Days 17-23
In phase three, you will do straight sets. Your total focus is on lifting maximum weight with perfect form. Rest as long as needed between sets to fully recover for the next set. At this stage, you should use a dip belt to add poundage to your bodyweight exercises.

Close-Grip Bench Press: (warmup 15 reps) 4 x 7,5,5,3
Close-Grip Chin-Up: 4 x 7,5,5,3
Barbell Curls: 4 x 7,5,5,3
Dips: 4 x 7,5,5,3
Reverse Wrist Curls: 4 x 12, 10, 8, 8

Optimized Exercise Form:
Reverse Wrist Curls

Sit on the edge of a bench with a pair of dumbbells held with a palms-down grip. Your hands should be about eight inches apart. Rest your forearms on your knees with your wrists hanging over the edge of your knees. Make sure your forearms are parallel to each throughout the movement.
Extend your wrists down all the way as you allow the dumbbells to roll down your fingers.
From the bottom position, flex your forearms to bring the dumbbells back to the start position.

Phase Four Workouts: Days 24-30
Your phase four workouts consist of nine exercises. They are divided into four supersets, two each for biceps and triceps and a standard set for forearms. Rest for 90 seconds after each superset.
Superset A1

Preacher Cable Curls: (warmup 15 reps) 4 x 12
Incline Dumbbell Curls: (warmup 15 reps) 4 x 12

Optimized Exercise Form:
Incline Dumbbell Curl

Set the angle on an incline bench to 45 degrees.
Grab a pair of dumbbells and sit on the bench with your arms hanging at your side. 
Rather than starting with your arms hanging down in a fully vertical or neutral position, begin the exercise with your forearms about 10 percent from the vertical position. Your palms should be facing the ceiling.
Flex at the elbow to bring the right-handed dumbbell to the shoulder; contract the bicep in the top position.
Lower under control, again stopping 10 percent short of full extension.
Repeat with the left arm and continue alternating to complete your rep count. 

SuperSet A2

Single-Arm Triceps Pushdown: 4 x 12
Reverse Dips: 4 x 12


Farmer’s Walk: 3 x 20 paces

Optimized Exercise Form:
Single-Arm Triceps Pushdown

Attach a single-handle attachment to a high pulley cable.
Stand in front of the pulley, facing it. Grasp the handle in your right hand and hold it at chest level with your elbows at your sides. Adjust your positioning so that the cable is taut in the start position.
Extend your arm and contract your triceps.
Reverse the motion to return to the start position, keeping your elbow at your sides.

Reverse Dips

Position yourself in front of a chair with your palms resting on the chair seat and feet on the ground about two feet in front of it. Your hands should be about six inches apart and your knees bent. 
Lower your body toward the floor by bending at the elbows, going down all the way. 
Push through the triceps to return to the start position. 

Farmer’s Walk

Grab a heavy pair of dumbbells off the rack and hold them at arm’s length by your sides.
Walk around your workout area, taking 20 paces away from the dumbbell rack and then returning. This should take 3-60 seconds.
Replace the dumbbells on the rack.

SuperSet B1

Close-Grip Chin-Up – (warmup 15 reps) 4 x 12
Alternate Cable Curls – (warmup 15 reps) 4 x 12

Optimized Exercise Form
Alternate Cable Curls

Set the cable pulleys at their lowest level.
Stand in front of the machine, facing away from it, and grab the cable handles.
Adjust your position so the cables are taut, with your arms slightly behind your torso and elbows at your sides.
Flex the right elbow to curl your hand up to your shoulder. Squeeze the biceps tightly in the top position.
Lower under control and repeat with the left arm.
Alternate sides to complete your rep count. 

SuperSet B2

Close-Grip Bench Press: 4 x 12
Triceps Push-Ups: 4 x 12

Optimized Exercise Form:
Triceps Push-Ups

Get down in the standard push-up position, but with your hands together under your body so that your thumbs and first fingers are touching. The gap between your hands will form a diamond shape.
Maintaining a tight core and a straight line from head to toe, lower your chest to the floor.
Push back to the start position.

30-Day Arm Challenge Nutrition
You will never grow your arms unless you eat a personalized nutrient-dense diet. Your body can only work with the building materials you provide it. Even if you are following the best arm workout on the planet, you will not add a single gram of muscle to your body without creating the right sort of caloric surplus.  
Your workout places stress on your muscles. The type of workouts in this program will cause micro-tears in the muscle fibers. As a result, when you walk out of the gym, you will be weaker and smaller. Only when you feed the muscle with the protein and carbs needed to repair the micro-tears in your muscle fibers can you benefit from all your hard work. Besides repairing the muscle, your body will add a little bit more size to the muscle fiber to meet a similar challenge in the future.
You must create a daily caloric surplus to give your body the nutrients needed to build muscle. That means you are taking in more calories than you use.  
To determine how many calories you need, multiply your body weight by 20. So, a 180-pound guy needs to consume 3,600 calories to give his muscle cells the building blocks for creating new mass.
Those 3,600 calories should be divided into six meals of equal size and spaced around three hours apart to get the most benefit from them. Each meal should have 50% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 20% healthy fats as its macronutrient ratio. Aim for one gram of protein per pound of body weight. 

These are the best protein sources to include in your mass gain diet:

 Dairy products
 Whey protein powder
 Lean beef
 Chicken breast
 Lean pork

You should also be consuming generous servings of these starchy and fibrous carbohydrates:

 Brown rice
 Brussels sprouts

Maintaining Your Gains
The week after you complete the 30-day arm challenge, you should take a break from training your biceps. Then follow a periodization program where you spread out each training phase from a week to a month. Here’s how it will look:

Month One: Hypertrophy 1
Month Two: Strength 1
Month Three: Hypertrophy 2
Month Four: Strength 2

Take a week off from training at the end of the second and fourth phases. You can follow this periodization program continuously to make ongoing gains. 
Myths Around Arm Training
Several persistent myths surrounding arm training must be wiped away before every lifter can get the best bang for his lift. Let’s put straight the four most common arm workout fallacies:
Myth #1: You Can Build Arms with a Partial Range of Motion
Everywhere you look, whether in your local gym or on YouTube, you see guys doing partial reps, usually with weights that are far too heavy for them. Make no mistake; this is not a smart way to train. You need to work a muscle through its full range of motion for full development and maximum strength.
Myth #2: Standing Barbell Curls Are All You Need
The standing barbell curl has been the go-to exercise for the biceps since the beginning of organized weight training. As a result, you see a lot of guys rely on it as their sole bicep builder. That, however, is a mistake. Barbell curls allow you to use a lot of weight but have limitations. They do not allow for grip supination to target the different heads of the biceps. 
When it comes to the triceps, a lot of guys spend their time on exercises of dubious value that do not allow for much weight, such as triceps kickbacks, when they could be doing moves that allow for a lot of weight, like close grip bench press and dips. 
The bottom line is that you do not want to rely on just one or two exercises for arm development – variation is a must for overall development.
Myth #3: It’s All About the Weight
The standing barbell curl has got to be the most abused exercise in the gym. The reason is simple — people try to impress others with how much weight they can curl. As a result, they use so much body swing and momentum that their biceps are getting no stimulation at all. 
Don’t be like those guys — leave your ego behind and focus on perfecting your exercise form and increasing your strength. Remember, 5 pounds curled perfectly is much better than 10 pounds with a bad form.
While we’re on the subject of weight, progressive overload should be gradual. So, rather than jumping from a 10-pound to a 15-pound dumbbell on the curl (a 50% increase), look to add just a single pound on the next set (a 10% increase). If your gym has microplates, you can make jumps of just 1-2%, which is even better.
Myth #4: You Can Wing It
The old saying that those who fail to plan, plan to fail is as true on the gym floor as anywhere else. You cannot turn up and train by feel if you are serious about getting results. Instead, you should record every exercise, set, rep, and weight in a training journal. That will allow you to know exactly how many sets, reps, and pounds to target on the next workout.
Most Common Arm Training Mistakes
There is generally no shortage of enthusiasm when it comes to arm training. There are, however, many common mistakes that tend to hold people back from getting anywhere near achieving their potential. Here are three of the common arm training mistakes and what to do about them:
Over-Reliance on Isolation Exercises
Which exercise will get you to bigger arms faster, curls or chin-ups? Pushdowns or triceps dips?
When you encounter someone who trains frequently but has poor arm development, they are usually weak for their body weight in the fundamental heavy compound pulling and pushing exercises. 
All exercises can be divided into two main groups — isolation (single joint motions) or compound (gross motor activities). Compound movements often involve two joints, whereas isolation movements only involve one. Curls are single-joint exercises solely using the elbow, whereas chin-ups are compound exercises using both the elbow and the shoulder. Compound movements are the type of exercise that contribute the most to muscle growth.  So, you won’t be able to add inches of thick, powerful muscle if you don’t focus on getting stronger at challenging pulling and pushing exercises like chin-ups or presses.
Lack of Arm Training Frequently
In the early stages of weight training, before drugs and protein powders, the training methods differed significantly from those employed today. They worked out their entire bodies three to five days a week, including their arms. Nowadays, training a body part more than twice per week is uncommon. In fact, the most popular bro split involves working out one body part per day and then working out every body part once weekly.
The introduction of steroids is credited with starting the tendency to train body parts sparingly. After bodybuilders began using steroids, training more than once weekly became unnecessary. All they had to do to gain muscle was pound a muscle group long and hard once every week. But for the vast majority of natural lifters, this simply does not work. 
You transmit a signal to your muscles to grow when you lift weights. This signal can be measured using a process known as “muscle protein synthesis.” According to studies, this signal increases significantly after exercise, peaks at around 24-48 hours, and then rapidly declines. It reaches baseline and even deviates from baseline after 48 to 72 hours. [1]
This is not a concern for steroid users, but it is for natural lifters. Additionally, studies reveal that the duration of this muscle-building signal decreases with expertise. Only 14 hours may pass with an elevated signal for advanced lifters. You need to frequently send that muscle-building signal if you are like most participants in these trials. Maybe even every day. Sounds simple enough, but if you train and pound your arms daily, the cumulative damage will make you extremely sore, swollen, and over-trained. So, how can we circumvent this issue? 
By adjusting the intensity.
Start by exercising your arms thrice weekly at a relatively high intensity. On these days, work out hard, but don’t lift to failure; instead, stop one or two reps shy of it. Divide the volume you currently perform for your arms each week into three workouts.
For most people, this translates to 12–21 sets overall per week for each muscle. For instance, if your objective is to complete 12 sets over the week, perform four sets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. 
Allowing Workouts to Get Stale
The saying “everything works, but nothing works forever” is certainly true when it comes to gaining muscle. No matter how great your training plan, exercise, and rep range, your body will eventually stop responding. People who find themselves in this scenario frequently increase the intensity or make minor adjustments, such as concentrating more on muscle contractions. They usually end up hitting the dreaded training plateau.
Unless you regularly alter your programming, your body won’t be able to build muscle consistently. Although switching up your workouts is crucial, switching up your rep range is even more important. Most rep ranges are beneficial for gaining muscle, but training in each one is a completely distinct experience. 
Consider contrasting sets of 20 reps with sets of doubles. Both rep ranges create muscle, although being very different. Low reps (1–5 reps), moderate reps (8–12 reps), and high reps (15–20 reps) are the three main rep ranges for gaining muscle. Each one of them has been shown to increase muscle mass. 
Use low rep ranges to maximize the development of grinding strength, use the low rep ranges. The traditional bodybuilder rep range for muscular development is the moderate rep range. In research, the 8–12 rep range consistently produces the highest muscle growth when other rep ranges are compared head-to-head. Most people undoubtedly get trapped in this rep range for this reason, and after being locked for a few months, their muscles cease reacting. 
When used in a cycle with other rep ranges, going as high as 30 reps, this rep range is fantastic. Workouts with this rep range may seem like marathon sessions. They produce the craziest skin-bursting muscle pumps, but they are also draining. Remember that up to 70% of your arm’s volume consists of fluid and non-muscle fiber components. By increasing the ability of your arms to hold more non-muscle fiber structures and fluids, they will grow bigger if you train them to produce insane pumps with high reps. Start with a single rep range, then switch to a different range after a few weeks. Each time, observe how your arms respond.
Key Arm Training Principles

Here are five principles that need to form the foundation of your 30-day arm challenge:
1. Intensity + Volume
Many people who want to focus on arms development are relatively weak in terms of their arm strength. As a result, they cannot lift enough weight to build bigger arms consistently. You will not progress unless you combine intensity with volume. 
2. Variety
If you repeatedly do the same thing, your body will adapt and stop responding. As a result, periodization has been a part of organized weightlifting from the beginning. That is why you must switch between intensification (strength work) and accumulation (hypertrophy work). 
3. Targeted Stimulation
The key job of the arm muscles is elbow flexion and extension. The elbows flexors consist of four muscles:

The brachialis
The brachioradialis
The pronator teres
The bicep brachii (long head + short head)

Each of these muscles responds differently to stimuli. For example, the brachialis responds better to force, while the brachioradialis responds better to speed. Changing the grip also changes the focus of the exercise. A pronated grip targets the brachialis, while a supinated grip hits the biceps brachii. Even though the exercises may seem similar, they have a very different effect on the arm muscles.
4. Prioritization
To prioritize your arm development, you must train them at the beginning of the week. This applies to your training week cycle and your specific workout. So, arm training should be on Day One, and you should train your arms first during that workout. That way, you can pour all your training energy into your arm workout while you are fresh.
5. Progressive Overload
When you work a muscle, the stress leads to micro tears within the muscle fiber. Proper nutrition and rest allow the muscle to get bigger and stronger to meet that stress in the future. So the muscle can meet the previous stress level in the next workout. Unless you add extra stress in the form of either more weight or reps, it will not be overly stressed, and the micro-tears that lead to growth will not occur.
Read also: Progressive Overload: The Science Behind Maximizing Muscle Growth
Bonus Section: How To Improve Arm Vascularity
Nothing says badass like a pair of big and vascular arms. Vascularity refers to the clearly visible veins running throughout the body. A vast network of veins crisscross your body. These veins are typically not visible as they are covered by body fat that lies underneath the skin.
The pinnacle of fitness is having a muscular body that is also vascular. It announces that you are in excellent physical condition with little body fat. Of course, there are a lot of folks who have never set foot inside a gym but have visible veins. Some people are genetically predisposed to develop insane vascularity. There are also several medical problems that increase a person’s vascularity.
Even if you were born on the wrong side of the veiny genetic pool, there are definitely things you can do to improve your vascularity:
1. Reduce Your Body Fat Percentage
The more fat you have, the less noticeable your veins will be. Therefore, reducing your body fat percentage is the first thing you should do to highlight your vascularity.
Men must be in the 10 to 12 percent body fat range to have clearly visible veins. On the other hand, women must be even lower. 
The first thing you need to do is enter a negative calorie balance. The difference between the calories you burn off and consume should ideally be 500 calories.
Second, drastically reduce your complex carb intake. The timeframe immediately following your workouts is the only time you should be eating carbohydrates. Approximately an hour after your workout, consume a meal or smoothie that is 50% carbs and 30% protein.
Add steady-state cardio to your weight training sessions if you’re trying to get vascular. Most of the calories you burn while exercising with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) will come from your glycogen stores. The calories you burn from steady-state cardio will come from your body fat reserves.
2. Strength Training
Contrary to popular belief, doing a lot of high rep sets with lesser weights is not the greatest approach to developing arm vascularity. The best technique to develop size and vascularity simultaneously is through heavy training in the 8–12 rep range. Blood pumps through the body more intensely the harder you train. The veins enlarge as a result, making them easier to observe.
You should end your workout with high-repetition sets to achieve a maximum pump. This will saturate the working muscle with blood, giving it the impression that it is about to explode. This kind of exercise is a component of Hany Rambod’s FST-7 program for bodybuilders trying to get into a super-ripped (and veiny) condition.
3. Include Isometrics
You should perform isometric holds during your recovery period and after your workout to further improve your vascularity.
4. Cut Water
A layer of fat beneath the skin will prevent your veins from peeking through. Water can also get between your veins and your skin. The bodybuilders on the Mr. Olympia stage appear so diced because they have removed most of the water from under their skin.
Wrap Up
The 30-Day arm challenge works. So long as you stick to the plan, you will develop significantly bigger and stronger biceps, triceps, and forearms. And those arms will not only be big but also defined. Put your all into this program with total dedication, belief, consistency, and grit, and you’ll be rewarded with arms to impress! 

MacDougall JD, Gibala MJ, Tarnopolsky MA, MacDonald JR, Interisano SA, Yarasheski KE. The time course for elevated muscle protein synthesis following heavy resistance exercise. Can J Appl Physiol. 1995 Dec;20(4):480-6. doi: 10.1139/h95-038. PMID: 8563679.

Get Super-Strong with The Best Powerlifting Exercises + Workout

Get Super-Strong with The Best Powerlifting Exercises + Workout

Powerlifting is all about getting strong in the squat, bench press, and deadlift. Between them, these three exercises test and develop your entire body. As such, powerlifters are among the strongest people on the planet. Many famous strongman competitors started as powerlifters, and some continue to compete in both disciplines.
Most gymgoers are familiar with squats, bench presses, and deadlifts and do them as part of their leg, chest, and back workouts. However, these movements are the priority in powerlifting, and all other exercises are secondary, chosen to improve their performance.
In this article, we take a look at the squat, bench press, and deadlifts and reveal the best accessory exercises you can use to increase your strength in these key lifts. We’ve also got a powerlifting-inspired training program for you to try.
Powerlifting Exercises – The Big Three
Russel Orhii / Instagram
The competitive lifts in powerlifting are often called “the big three” and are the barbell back squat, bench press, and deadlift. Each powerlifting exercise is governed by rules so that all competitors perform each exercise in a similar fashion. This ensures that performances can be compared and judged fairly.
Needless to say, the squat, bench press, and deadlift should always be at the top of any list of powerlifting exercises.
Barbell Back Squat
Target muscles: Quadriceps, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, abductors, adductors, core.
Powerlifting meets start with the barbell back squat. Lifters have three attempts and perform a single rep. For their squat to count, powerlifters must descend until their thighs are at least parallel to the floor. This is deeper than many recreational exercisers squat and takes flexibility, mobility, and practice.
Because of the danger of failing a rep, squats should always be performed in a power rack or with strong spotters on hand.

Rack and hold your barbell across your upper back. It should not rest on your neck. The lower you can hold the bar, the shorter the lever from the weight to your hips will be, and that means less stress on your lower back. This is called a low-bar squat.
Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, toes turned slightly outward.
Pull your shoulders down and back, brace your core, and inhale deeply.
Bend your knees and hips and squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Push your knees out as you descend. Take care not to round your lower back, as doing so can lead to injuries.
Drive your feet into the floor and stand up straight. Exhale as you ascend.
Rerack the bar or reset your core and do another rep.


Experiment with your stance width to see what feels strongest and most comfortable.
If squats hurt your neck, you’re resting the bar too high. Move it further down your back so it’s resting on a pad of muscle and not directly onto bones.
Wear knee sleeves to support and protect your joints if necessary.
Use a lifting belt to increase intra-abdominal pressure and support your lumbar spine.
Wear hard-soled shoes to increase your stability and balance, e.g., weightlifting shoes.

Bench press
Target muscles: Pectoralis major, triceps, deltoids, rotator cuff.
Most exercisers are very familiar with the bench press as it’s a popular chest exercise. However, the powerlifting bench press is slightly different, as the aim is not to build muscle but to lift as much weight as possible.
A lot of powerlifters, especially in the lighter divisions, bench press with a very pronounced back arch. This reduces the distance the weight has to travel, which saves energy and should lead to a bigger lift. In powerlifting, the bar must briefly touch your chest, and you cannot press it back up until the referee tells you to.

Lie on the bench so your eyes are directly under the bar. Grip the bar with a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip.
Push your upper back into the bench and drive your feet into the floor. Pull your shoulders back and down, inhale, and lift your chest up toward the barbell. Brace your core. Make sure your entire body is tense.
With help from a spotter, unrack the bar and hold it over your chest.
Without moving your feet, bend your arms and lower the bar to the highest point of your chest. Tuck your elbows in as the bar descends. Pause for 1-2 seconds with the weight touching but not resting on your chest.
Drive the bar up and slightly back until your elbows are straight, letting your arms flare out slightly as the weight ascends.
Rerack the bar or reset and do another rep.


Use wrist wraps to support your wrists when lifting very heavy weights.
Move your feet closer to your hips to increase your arch, making sure you keep your butt on the bench.
Squeeze the bar as hard as possible to increase upper body tension and strength.
Try to push the bar up as fast as you can to blast through your sticking point.
Imagine pulling the bar apart to maximize upper back engagement and increase stability.

Target muscles: Hamstrings, gluteus maximus, quadriceps, latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rhomboids, biceps, forearms, core.
Powerlifting competitions end with the deadlift. In many instances, the result of the meet hangs on the deadlift. Powerlifters have a choice between conventional and sumo deadlifts. While the muscles involved in these exercises are similar, stance width affects how much work they have to do.
Narrow-stance conventional deadlifts involve more back, glutes, and hamstrings engagement, while wide-stance sumo deadlifts hit the quads and glutes more.
Prospective powerlifters should try both types of deadlifts to see which one they prefer.
Read more about Sumo vs. Conventional Deadlifts here.
Sumo deadlift steps:

Position your barbell so it’s roughly nine inches from the floor. Stand behind the bar and adopt a wide stance so your feet are close to the weight plates. Turn your toes out slightly. The bar should be almost touching your shins.
Hold the bar with a shoulder-width overhand or mixed grip. Your back should be slightly arched, arms straight, shoulders down and back, and hips higher than your knees. Brace your core and inhale.
Drive your feet into the floor and extend your knees, keeping the bar close to your legs. Do not round your lower back.
As the bar passes your knees, push your hips forward to finish the lift.
Stand up straight but do not lean back or bend your arms, which could cause injury.
Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower the weight back to the floor.
Release the bar and stand up, or reset your core and grip and perform another rep.

Conventional deadlift steps:

Position your barbell so it’s roughly nine inches from the floor. Stand behind it with your toes under the bar, feet about hip to shoulder-width apart.
Reach down and hold the bar with an overhand or mixed grip.
Straighten your arms, pull your shoulders down and back, and brace your abs. Your lower back should be slightly arched, with your hips lower than your shoulders.
Without bending your arms or rounding your lower back, drive your feet into the floor and stand up. Push your hips forward as the bar passes your knees.
Stand up straight but do not lean back or bend your arms, which could cause injury.
Push your hips back, bend your knees, and return the weight to the floor.
Release the bar and stand up, or reset your core and grip and perform another rep.


Use lifting chalk to maximize your grip and prevent slipping.
Wear flat-soled shoes or lift barefoot for increased stability.
Use a weightlifting belt to support your lumbar spine.
Imagine you are jumping with a weight in your hands to blast past your sticking points more easily.
Do at least some of your sets with a double overhand grip and with your mixed grip reversed to avoid developing muscle imbalances.

Powerlifting Exercises – Accessory Lifts
While you can get big and strong doing nothing but squats, bench presses, and deadlifts, this is not the ideal way to maximize your performance. Powerlifters use accessory exercises to improve their performance in the big three lifts.
Accessory, sometimes called assistance, exercises help strengthen the weak links that might otherwise hold you back. These exercises are usually performed after the main lift for the day, or during a separate workout.
You should choose your accessory exercises according to your weaknesses. For example, if you round your lower back during squats and deadlifts, you need to strengthen your spinal erectors and core to prevent this problem.
These are the best powerlifting accessory exercises for the squat, bench press, and deadlift.
1. Paused squat
Target muscles: Quadriceps, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, abductors, adductors, core.
Paused squats involve stopping at the midpoint of each rep for 3-5 seconds. This breaks the eccentric/concentric stretch-shortening reflex, which forces you to work harder on the ascent. This is a good exercise for improving speed out of the hole and reinforces proper squat depth.

Adopt your normal squat stance.
Descend smoothly and then pause with your thighs parallel to the floor. Hold this position for 3-5 seconds, maintaining tension throughout your body.
Drive your feet into the floor and stand up as powerfully as possible.
Reset your core and repeat.


Start light and increase weights gradually; this exercise is harder than it looks.
Do not relax during the pause. Instead, stay tight and keep your chest up and knees out.
Try to explode out of the pause to increase muscle power and engage your muscles fully.

2. Box squats
Target muscles: Quadriceps, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, abductors, adductors, core.
Like paused squats, box squats break up your descent and ascent, so you have to work harder to stand up. However, resting on a box means you also have to control the speed of your descent and have a depth target to aim for. If you sometimes find yourself squatting too shallow, this exercise could help.

Stand with your back to a knee-high bench or box and adopt your normal squat stance.
Push your hips back, bend your knees, and descend until your butt touches the platform. Keep your chest up.
Drive your feet into the floor and stand back up.
Rest your core and repeat.


Place to foam pad on your box to avoid shock-loading your spine.
Stay tight on the box – do not relax.
Lower the height of the box as your mobility and flexibility improves.

3. Leg press
Target muscles: Quadriceps, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, abductors, adductors.
Leg presses allow you to strengthen your legs without using your core or back muscles. Needless to say, strong legs are critical for a big squat! If your back and core are tired after squats or deadlifts, a few sets of leg presses will allow you to continue strengthening your legs. However, your primary focus should always be squats and squat variations. Leg presses are not one of the big three!

Sit on your leg press machine with your lower back and butt pressed into the seat. Place your feet on the footrest, shoulder to hip-width apart.
Unrack the weight, bend your knees, and descend as deeply as you can without rounding your lower back.
Push the weight back up and repeat.
Rerack the weight on completion.


Experiment with the position of your feet to determine what feels the most comfortable and effective.
Keep your core braced and your lower back pressed into the seat throughout. Do not allow your lower back to round, as doing so can cause severe injuries.
Leg press machine designs vary, so ensure you know how to use the machine in your gym. Ask an instructor if you are unsure.

4. Bulgarian split squat
Target muscles: Quadriceps, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, abductors, adductors.
Barbell back squats are a bilateral or two-legged exercise. However, it’s common to have one leg stronger than the other. Slight strength imbalances are no problem, but more significant differences can lead to injuries and could hurt your performance. Bulgarian split squats are an excellent exercise for fixing left-to-right strength imbalances and improving balance and hip mobility.

Stand with your back to a knee-high bench. Bend one leg and place your foot on the bench with your laces facing downward. Hop forward into a split stance.
Bend your legs and lower your rear knee down to within an inch of the floor.
Stand back up and repeat.
Switch legs and do the same number of reps on the other side.


Hold dumbbells or use a barbell to make this exercise harder.
Pause at the bottom of each rep to make this exercise more challenging.
Lean forwards slightly from your hips to increase glute and hamstring engagement.

5. Squat jumps
Target muscles: Quadriceps, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, abductors, adductors.
While powerlifting squats are invariably performed slowly, your intention should always be to move fast. Trying to explode up out of the hole increases muscle recruitment and helps you avoid stalling partway up. As such, it makes sense to include low-load but high-speed exercises in your powerlifting squat workout.

Stand in your normal squat stance.
Bend your legs and descend down to parallel.
Using your arms for added momentum, jump up as high as possible.
Land on slightly bent knees to absorb the shock of landing and repeat.
Try to minimize ground contact time between jumps – imagine the floor is hot.


Do this exercise on a mat for comfort and safety.
Increase the load by holding dumbbells in your hands or a barbell on your back.
End your set when your jump height starts to decrease.

6. Paused bench press
Target muscles: Pectoralis major, deltoids, triceps.
Competition-style bench presses involve pausing with the bar touching your chest. This stops lifters from bouncing rather than pushing the bar up. Paused bench presses prepare you for powerlifting meets and also increase your strength off your chest, which is a common sticking point for many lifters.

Adopt your usual bench press position and unrack the weight.
Bend your arms and lower the bar to your chest.
Pause with the bar touching your chest for 3-5 seconds.
Drive the weight back up and repeat.


Use less weight than usual, as pausing makes the load feel heavier.
The longer you pause, the more difficult this exercise becomes.
Do not relax with the bar on your chest. Instead, stay tight like a compressed spring.

7. Close grip bench press
Target muscles: Deltoids, pectorals major, triceps.
While bench presses are usually described as a chest exercise, the triceps are equally involved. However, because the triceps are smaller and weaker than the pecs, invariably, they fail first. Close grip bench presses emphasize your triceps and can help make them less of a liability. Stronger triceps usually mean a bigger bench press.

Lie on your bench and hold the bar with a shoulder-width grip. Plant your feet on the floor, push your upper back into the bench, and lift your chest.
Unrack the bar and hold it over your chest.
Bend your arms and lower the bar to your sternum. Keep your upper arms tucked into your sides throughout.
Drive the weight back up and repeat.


Experiment with the width of your hands to see what feels most comfortable and effective.
You can also combine close grip bench presses with a pause to make them more demanding.
Avoid doing very close grip bench presses, which can be hard on your wrists, elbows, and shoulders.

8. Wide grip bench press
Target muscles: Pectoralis major, deltoids, triceps.
Wide grip bench presses emphasize your pecs, which are the engine that drives your bench press. Isolation exercises like dumbbell flys and cable crossovers are great for building bigger pecs but won’t do much for your strength. Wide grip bench presses are a critical accessory exercise if you want to press more weight.

Lie on your bench and hold the bar so your hands are about six inches wider than your regular grip.
Plant your feet on the floor, push your upper back into the bench, and lift your chest.
Unrack the bar and hold it over your chest.
Bend your arms and lower the bar to your sternum. Keep your upper arms tucked into your sides throughout.
Drive the weight back up and repeat.


Keep your upper back engaged to take stress away from your shoulders.
Do this exercise with a pause for a more challenging workout.
Experiment with the width of your hands to see what feels most comfortable and effective.

Read also: Learn how to absolutely nail the wide grip bench press to push your chest muscles to the max!
9. Floor press
Target muscles: Pectoralis major, deltoids, triceps.
Bench presses can be hard on your shoulders. It’s no coincidence that many powerlifters also suffer from chronic shoulder pain. Floor presses allow you to keep working on your bench press while giving your joints a well-deserved break. They’re also excellent for increasing triceps and lockout strength.

Lie on the floor with your legs bent and feet flat. Hold your barbell over your chest using a medium-width grip. Press your upper back into the floor and lift your chest up.
Bend your arms and lower the bar until your elbows and triceps lightly touch the floor.
Press the bar back up and repeat.


Lower the weight slowly to avoid jarring your elbows.
You can also do this exercise with straight rather than bent legs.
Try using dumbbells instead of a barbell to see which you prefer.

10. Plyo push-up
Target muscles: Pectoralis major, deltoids, triceps.
Plyometric or plyo push-ups develop explosive strength. After pausing, it can be hard to get the bar moving off your chest, which is where your explosive strength comes in. Plyo push-ups are one of the best upper body power and speed exercises around, and you don’t need any equipment to do them.

Adopt the push-up position with your arms, legs, and body straight. Brace your core.
Bend your arms and lower your chest to within an inch of the floor.
Explosively extend your arms and push yourself up so your hands leave the floor.
Land on slightly bent elbows, lower your chest back down to the floor and repeat.


Do this exercise on a mat for comfort and safety.
End your set when you start losing height.
Try to minimize ground contact time between reps by imagining the floor is hot.

11. Paused deadlifts
Target muscles: Hamstrings, gluteus maximus, quadriceps, latissimus dorsi, trapezius, rhomboids, biceps, forearms, core.
The most common sticking point in the deadlift is as the bar passes your knees. This is because you are in a mechanically disadvantageous position, as the bar is also furthest from your base of support. Paused deadlifts address this common weakness and should help you blast through this sticking point more easily.

Set up for sumo or conventional deadlifts as usual.
Drive your feet into the floor and pull the bar up to about knee height. Pause for 3-5 seconds.
Push your hips forward and stand up straight to complete the lift.
Lower the bar back to the floor, reset your core and grip, and repeat.


Stay tight during the pause, and do not allow your lower back to round.
The longer you pause, the more demanding this exercise becomes.
Don’t go too heavy too soon, as paused deadlifts are far more challenging than regular conventional or sumo deadlifts.

12. Romanian deadlifts
Target muscles: Hamstrings, gluteus maximus, erector spinae, rhomboids, biceps, forearms, core.
Romanian deadlifts target your posterior chain, which is the engine that drives your deadlift. Posterior chain is the collective term for your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. Weakness in this area will not only reduce your deadlift performance but could also open you up to injuries. As such, Romanian deadlifts are doubly-important for powerlifters.

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold a barbell in front of your thighs with a mixed or double overhand grip. Brace your core and pull your shoulders back and down.
Hinging from your hips, lean forward and lower the bar down the front of your legs as far as your flexibility allows.
Stand back up and repeat.


Do not round your lower back, as doing so can lead to injury.
Tuck your chin in and lengthen your neck to avoid stressing your spine.
Push your hips back and keep your weight on your heels to maximize posterior chain engagement.

Read also: Learn how to build a powerful posterior chain with Romanian deadlifts, or RDLs for short.
13. Good mornings
Target muscles: Hamstrings, gluteus maximus, erector spinae, core.
Good mornings get their name because, when you do this exercise, it looks like you are bowing to greet a Victorian-era friend! Weird images aside, this is an excellent posterior chain exercise and, because it doesn’t involve your arms, won’t tax your already overworked forearms and grip.

Rack and hold a barbell across your upper back like you are doing squats. Stand with your feet shoulder to hip-width apart and knees slightly bent.
Hinging from your hips, lean forward as far as your flexibility allows. Do not round your lower back.
Stand back up and repeat.


Use a squat bar pad for comfort.
Pull the bar down onto your upper back to step it moving as you lean forwards.
Push your hips back and keep your weight on your heels to maximize posterior chain engagement.

14. Barbell hip thrusts
Target muscles: Hamstrings, gluteus maximus, erector spinae, core.
This is another posterior chain exercise. However, unlike the previous few movements, it puts very little stress on your lower back, providing a welcome break for that already hard-working group of muscles. Barbell hip thrusts will improve your lockout strength and give you a better-looking butt.
Barbell Hip Thrust

Sit on the floor with your upper back against a stable bench. Rest and hold a barbell across your hips. Bend your legs and plant your feet firmly on the floor.
Drive your feet into the floor and push your hips to form a straight line with your knees and shoulders.
Lower your butt back down to the floor and repeat.


Use a bar pad or folded mat for comfort if required.
Drive your heels into the floor and not the balls of your feet to maximize hamstring and glute engagement.
You can also do this exercise with a dumbbell instead of a barbell or using one leg instead of two.

15. Ab wheel rollouts
Target muscles: Core, latissimus dorsi, triceps.
Your core can make or break your deadlift. Core is the collective term for the muscles of your midsection, which act like a weightlifting belt during deadlifts, squats, and most other strength training exercises. If your core fails, your midsection will collapse, and some of the force generated by your legs or arms will get lost. A rounded lower back is also weaker and more prone to injury.
Rollouts are one of the most powerlifting-specific core exercises, as they also involve your lats and triceps, both of which are very active during deadlifts.
Ab Wheel Rollouts

Kneel down and place your ab roller on the floor in front of your legs. Hold the handles with an overhand grip. Brace your core and straighten your arms.
Push the roller away from you and lower your chest toward the floor.
Keeping your arms straight, use your core to pull the roller back up to your knees.


Kneel on an exercise mat or foam pad for comfort.
The further you roll the wheel away from you, the more demanding this exercise becomes.
Reduce your range of motion if this exercise causes lower back discomfort.

Four-Day Powerlifting Workout
While the exercises listed above will make you stronger, you’ll get much better results from your training if you follow a more structured program. This workout plan emphasizes the big three powerlifts and also includes several complimentary accessory exercises to balance your musculature and improve your performance.
However, before beginning any of these workouts, make sure you prepare your muscles and joints with an appropriate warm-up. Begin with 5-10 minutes of easy cardio followed by dynamic mobility and flexibility exercises for the joints and muscles you’re about to use.
Finish off your warm-up with a couple of progressive sets of your first exercise to dial in your technique and get your nervous system ready for heavier weights.
Read more about warming up for strength training here.
Your Training Week
To avoid overtraining and allow adequate time for rest and recovery, this workout plan involves no more than two training days in a row and no more than two back-to-back rest days. This provides the ideal balance between work and recovery. Try not to change which days you train unless absolutely necessary.


Squat & accessory exercises

Bench press (1) & accessory exercises


Deadlift & accessory exercises


Bench press (2) & accessory exercises


Workout 1 – Squat & accessory exercises



Paused squat

Bulgarian split squat
10-12 per leg
60 seconds

Leg press
60 seconds

Squat jump
90 seconds

Workout 2 – Bench press (1) & accessory exercises


Bench press

Paused bench press

Plyo push-up
90 seconds

Triceps pushdown
60 seconds

Face pull
60 seconds

Workout 3 – Deadlift & accessory exercises



Paused deadlift

Romanian deadlift

Hip thrust  
90 seconds

Ab wheel rollout
60 seconds

Workout 4 – Bench press (2) & accessory exercises


Close grip bench press

Wide grip bench press

Floor press
90 seconds

Seated cable row
60 seconds

EZ bar skull crusher
60 seconds

Do you have a question about the best powerlifting exercises or our workout? No problem, because we’ve got the answers!
1. What weight should I use for these exercises?
The one thing we can’t tell you is how much weight to use for these exercises and workouts. After all, strength is determined by many factors, including age, gender, experience, and genetics.
So, spend your first week of training estimating your training weights. If an exercise calls for 6-8 reps, increase your weight over several sets until you feel you will get close to failure within the specified range. Use your final weight the next time you repeat that workout.
Use this process for all the exercises.
Then, week by week, work at increasing the loads, even if it’s only by 2.5 to 5.0 pounds. These small but gradual increases are the key to getting stronger. This is called progressive overload.
2. How long can I follow this workout plan?
Stick with our powerlifting workout plan until you notice your big three progress starting to slow. This could be 4-8 weeks or several months. Then, as the workout loses some of its, take a one-week deload (easy training week) and try and squeeze a couple more weeks of progress out of your training.
Then, when your progress grinds almost to a halt, quit this plan and start another one.
Check out our library of powerlifting programs here.
3. What diet should I follow with this workout plan?
Training to get stronger invariably means training to build muscle mass. Yes, some strength gains are neurological and not the result of muscle growth. However, a bigger muscle is a stronger muscle. It’s no coincidence that powerlifters are big and muscular.
To build muscle, you need a calorie surplus and at least one gram of protein per pound of body weight. Use this protein calculator to determine your precise protein needs. You also need to consume plenty of carbohydrates for energy and unprocessed fats for hormonal balance and general health.
Ideally, your meals should contain plenty of unrefined foods, including vegetables, whole grains, and other natural ingredients. While the occasional junk food treat probably won’t harm you, the healthier your diet is, the healthier you will be. After all, you are what you eat.
As such, there is no standard powerlifting diet, and you can follow any meal plan that meets your needs.
4. How do I get big like a bodybuilder but strong like a powerlifter?
While powerlifters are strong, bodybuilders are often bigger and are almost always leaner with more aesthetic physiques. Because of this, and depending on their goals, most people choose to follow either a powerlifting plan or a bodybuilding plan.
However, if you want the best of both worlds, you may want to consider powerbuilding. A powerbuilding approach builds muscle mass and strength in equal measure and uses training methods from both types of workout.
You can read more about powerbuilding here.
5. Can I make changes to any of the workouts?
You certainly can, but make sure you avoid changing the exercises too much. For example, while switching barbell for dumbbell floor presses would be fine, hitting the pec deck instead of the bench press would not as the exercises are too dissimilar.
So, look at the muscles involved in the exercise you want to replace and choose a similar alternative. And don’t replace an exercise just because it’s hard – it’s those challenging exercises that are responsible for your strength gains.
6. Can I train for powerlifting even if I don’t want to compete?
While powerlifting competitions are a lot of fun and can be very rewarding, training for one requires a lot of time and dedication.
Your training will need to peak at the right time, and you may also have to lose or gain weight to qualify for your chosen class. You’ll also need to decide whether you will compete equipped or raw and in which federation. There is a risk of injury as you train with ever more weight, and you may have to take time off work and travel to find a suitable meet.
Because of these details, many people follow a powerlifting program with no intention of ever stepping into the limelight and competing. They just enjoy lifting heavy weights and getting stronger, which, for them, is rewarding enough.
The good news is that you can always compare your performance against other lifters in your demographic and compete against your previous best lifts by tracking your one-repetition maximums in the squat, bench press, and deadlift. You can also use the Wilks calculator to compare your strength against other lifters, irrespective of weight and gender.
7. Is powerlifting safe?
Like all sports, powerlifting has some inherent risks. Lifting very heavy weights, failed reps, poor form, and simple accidents can all lead to mild to severe injuries. However, using the proper equipment and correct technique, respecting your body’s need for rest, staying within your limitations, and training hard but smart will mitigate many of these risks.
In reality, powerlifting is no more dangerous than basketball, soccer, football, etc. However, there ARE safer workouts, so if you are only training for general strength and health, you should probably consider something less risky, like progressive calisthenics or general strength training.
Closing Thoughts
Powerlifting is a very accessible strength sport. Unlike competitive strongman, you don’t need lots of specialist equipment, and you can train for powerlifting in almost any commercial gym.
Based on three common gym exercises – the squat, bench press, and deadlift – powerlifting is relatively easy to learn and much less difficult to get into than Olympic lifting. Buy a squat rack, bench, barbell, and weights, and you can even do powerlifting at home.
If you are looking for a way to build muscle and get super-strong, powerlifting is a great choice. More functional than bodybuilding, powerlifting is an excellent standalone activity and compatible with many other sports.
Use the exercises and workouts in this article to get stronger than ever before!

Deadlift Muscles Worked: Your Guide to REAL King of Exercises!

Deadlift Muscles Worked: Your Guide to REAL King of Exercises!

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – the deadlift is probably THE most productive exercise you can do with a barbell. Sure, squats are often called the king of exercises, but that title may be somewhat undeserved. In many ways, deadlifts are better and may even deserve a bigger place in your workouts.
In this article, we explain what’s so good about the deadlift, reveal the muscles involved, and discuss some of the best deadlift variations.

What’s So Good About Deadlifts, Anyway?

Before you start typing a comment in defense of squats, it’s important to stress that they’re an excellent exercise, and everyone who lifts should include squats in their workouts. However, as great as squats undeniably are, deadlifts also deserve a place in your workouts.
You don’t have to choose between these two awesome exercises, and most people should do both.
However, there are several compelling reasons for putting a little more energy into deadlifts. These include:
A truly functional exercise
Functional training is an often-misused term. Some people use it to describe overly complicated exercises that are basically circus skills, like doing biceps curls while balancing on a stability ball or single-leg squats with your eyes closed.
In reality, functional training is something that improves your performance of everyday or athletic activities outside of the gym.
There are very few exercises more functional than deadlifts. After all, they teach you how to lift heavy objects off the floor using your legs and back, and hopefully without hurting yourself.
Given how many people injure their lower backs when lifting grocery bags, suitcases, their kids, etc., learning and mastering the deadlift should be compulsory.
An almost full-body exercise
As you’ll learn in the next section, the deadlift involves virtually every muscle in your body. From your feet to your hands via everything in between, the deadlift is the epitome of a full-body exercise. In fact, the only muscles that don’t get much of a workout are your pecs. That shortfall is easily remedied by supersetting some push-ups between sets of deadlifts.
So, whether you are short on time or just want to get the biggest bang for your workout buck, deadlifts are a must.
A very accessible exercise
In a world of complicated workout machines and convoluted exercises, the deadlift is a breath of fresh air. All you need to do deadlifts is a barbell, some weights, and a bit of space. As such, even home exercisers can do deadlifts, which may not be the case for squats, where a squat rack is usually required.
While good deadlift technique is critical, the movement is pretty natural, and most lifters can pick it up relatively quickly. As such, lifters of all ages, abilities, and genders can and should do deadlifts.
Easier to judge a successful lift
If you watch a lot of videos on YouTube, you’d be forgiven for thinking that shouldering a heavy weight and then twitching your knees counts as a good squat. People are claiming successful lifts when they are clearly a long way from hitting parallel – the accepted standard for squat depth.
There is much less room for interpretation with deadlifts. The exercise starts with the weight resting on the floor and ends when standing upright. You either lift it or you don’t – there are no degrees of success. Judging a good deadlift is simple, and it’s a very hard exercise to cheat.

Failure IS an option
Squatting to failure is a risky endeavor – even in a squat or power rack. Getting stuck under a heavy bar can cause catastrophic knee, hip, or back injuries. Athletic careers have ended as a result of failed squats.
In contrast, being unable to complete a deadlift is far less risky. You can simply let go of the bar or lower it quickly back to the floor with no mess and no fuss. As such, the deadlift is suitable for intense solo training.
Build a butt you can be proud of
Prolonged periods of sitting mean many people have weak, flaccid glutes. Underdeveloped glutes are a leading cause of lower back pain and, let’s be honest, not all that nice to look at!
The deadlift is one of the best glute-centric exercises around. In fact, they’re great for your entire posterior chain, which is the collective term for the muscles on the back of your body. A strong posterior chain is critical for locomotion (running, walking, jumping) and many other athletic and everyday activities. So, if you want a butt you can be proud of, you’d better start deadlifting.
Personal satisfaction
The deadlift can be a brutally challenging exercise, but that’s also what makes it so satisfying to perform. You get behind the bar, bend down and grip it, drive your feet into the floor, and pulling with every fiber of your being, you lift it off the floor. It’s a battle of wills – you against mean old Mr. Gravity!
If you are successful, you’ll feel great, experiencing a wave of satisfaction that’s hard to describe and highly addictive. If you fail, you’ll be more determined to beat the weight next time.
While you might never break any deadlifting records, you can always compete against yourself for a new one-repetition maximum, and even small weight increases deserve celebration.
The deadlift really is one of the most productive things you can do with a barbell, and whatever you are training for, deadlifts will probably help you get there faster.
Muscles Worked During Deadlifts

It’s no exaggeration to say that deadlifts are a full-body exercise. In fact, the list of muscles not involved in deadlifts is very short (yes, we’re talking about you, pecs!).
That said, some muscles work harder than others, getting the most stimulation from deadlifts. The main muscle movers and shakers during deadlifts are:
Latissimus dorsi
Deadlifts are often described as a back exercise. While they are much more than this, deadlifts will give you a broader, thicker upper back. That’s because you must use your latissimus dorsi or lats to keep the bar pressed against your legs and stop it from swinging away from you. Performed alongside pull-ups and rows, deadlifts will help you develop a show-stopping back.
Known as the traps for short, this is a large diamond-shaped muscle that covers much of your upper back. The traps have three sets of fibers – upper, middle, and lower. All three groups of fibers are involved in deadlifts, but the upper and middle fibers are the most active. Heavy deadlifts will help you develop thick, high traps and get you “yoked.” 
The rhomboids are located between your shoulder blades and work with your middle trap fibers to keep your shoulder girdle retracted or pulled back. Strong mid-traps and rhomboids give your upper back its thickness and are also good for your posture.
Gluteus maximus
Known as the glutes for short, this is the largest and potentially strongest muscle in the human body. Responsible for hip extension, the glutes are the engine that drives your deadlift. The glutes are basically your butt.
Located on the backs of your thighs, the hamstrings work with your glutes to extend your hips and are also involved in knee flexion. There are three muscles in the hamstring group – semimembranosus, semitendinosus, and biceps femoris. Deadlifts are a very hamstring-centric exercise.
Contrary to popular opinion, the quadriceps are strongly involved in deadlifts – or at least they should be. The quads extend your knees and are most active at the start of each rep; weak quads can stop you from breaking the weight away from the floor. The four quadriceps muscles are vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, vastus medialis, and rectus femoris.
Hip abductors and adductors
Your knees should not cave in or fall outward during deadlifts. Doing so would limit your performance and increase your risk of injury. The hip abductors (outer hips and thighs) and the adductors (inner thighs) work to stabilize your hips and prevent unwanted knee movement. The hip abductors are gluteus minimus, gluteus medius, and the tensor fascia latae, while the hip adductors are longus, brevis, and magnus.
The core is the collective term for the muscles that encircle your midsection. During deadlifts, these muscles act like a weightlifting belt to support and stabilize your lumbar spine.
The muscles of the core include the rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominis, diaphragm, and pelvic floor. Contracting these muscles to prevent movement of the lumbar spine is called bracing, which is critical for safe deadlifting.
Erector spinae
Deadlifts are a very back-centric exercise. In fact, there isn’t a muscle in your back that isn’t working during deadlifts. The erector spinae is a group of three muscles that runs up both sides of your spine. Each one is subdivided into three sections. During deadlifts, the erector spinae must work hard to stop your spine from flexing or rounding.
It’s bad form to try and bend your elbows during deadlifts, and doing so can cause serious injuries. However, you’ll need to use your biceps to stop your elbows from hyperextending, so they’ll still be under a lot of tension. This is especially true if you use a mixed grip, and your supinated (palms forward) biceps will be working especially hard.
Surprisingly, the triceps play a significant role during deadlifts. Working with your lats, you must use the long head of your triceps to keep the bar pressed back against your legs. As such, if you have any kind of triceps weakness, you’ll feel this small but essential muscle working overtime.
The deltoids are your main shoulder muscles. There are three groups of fibers, called heads, that make up the deltoids – anterior (front), medial (middle), and posterior (rear). The posterior deltoids are the most active during deadlifts, although the other two heads are also involved.
A big deadlift requires strong forearms. After all, these muscles are responsible for your grip, and if you cannot maintain your hold on the bar, you won’t be able to lift it. You could use lifting straps to reinforce your grip, but anything more than a liberal application of gym chalk is considered cheating by many people.
Using a mixed grip can help improve your hold on the bar, but you may need to work on your hand strength if you want to deadlift bigger weights.
Deadlifts Variations and Muscle Activation
There are several different types of deadlift you can use to add variety to your workouts. Each one uses many of the same muscles as conventional deadlifts. However, they often emphasize some muscles more than others and have a slightly different training effect.
This the following information to help you choose the best deadlift for your training goals:
1. Romanian deadlift
Deadlifts are so-called because you’re lifting a dead weight from the floor. That said, Romanian deadlifts start with the weight at hip height, and it never touches the ground. As such, it’s not really a deadlift.
However, the name has stuck, and the Romanian deadlift is a very popular exercise. This variation all but removes your quadriceps from the movement and focuses on the muscles of your posterior chain, i.e., the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. 

Read more about Romanian deadlifts here.
2. Deficit deadlift
The deficit deadlift involves standing on a low platform or a bumper plate or two. This puts you in a lower starting position, increasing your range of motion. With a deeper bend in your knees and hips, deficit deadlifts involve more quadriceps and glutes engagement and increase your strength off the floor.

Learn how to do deficit deadlifts here.
3. Sumo deadlift
Sumo deadlifts are performed with a wider-than-shoulder-width stance and a more upright torso. This increases glute and quadriceps activation and also uses the hip abductors and adductors more. A lot of powerlifters use sumo deadlifts as they find it lets them lift heavier weights with less low back stress.

Read all about sumo deadlifts here.
4. Trap bar deadlift
A trap bar or hex bar is a specialist barbell that allows you to stand between the weights. This shifts the load closer to your base of support, taking stress off your lower back. However, this change makes trap bar deadlifts more quad-dominant than conventional deadlifts, so this exercise often feels more like a squat than a deadlift. As such, it’s sometimes called a squat lift.

You can read more about trap bar deadlifts here.
5. Dumbbell deadlift
No trap bar? No problem! You can simulate trap bar deadlifts with a pair of dumbbells. Like trap bar deadlifts, the weight is next to you instead of in front of you, putting more stress on your quadriceps and less on your lower back. However, most people find this exercise awkward with heavy weights as the dumbbells tend to swing in against the legs.

Learn how to do dumbbell deadlifts here.
6. Jefferson deadlift
The Jefferson deadlift is like a cross between a lunge and a conventional deadlift. You perform this exercise standing astride your barbell. Jefferson deadlifts use your quadriceps, abductors, and adductors more than regular deadlifts. They also allow you to maintain a more upright posture, which may be a little more lower back-friendly.

Discover the secret to Jefferson deadlifts in this article.
7. Deadlift with bands or chains
Deadlifting against bands or chains increases the load as you approach lockout. This deloads your quadriceps and puts more tension on your glutes and hamstrings. Powerlifters use band and chain deadlifts to strengthen their lockout. This is also an excellent way to take pressure off your lumbar spine while still putting plenty of tension through your muscles.

Read more about deadlifts with bands or chains here.
8. Rack pulls
Rack pulls are a partial deadlift where each rep starts with the bar at about knee height. The bar is raised in a power rack or on blocks. The partial range of motion allows you to lift heavier weights and focus on the top part of each rep, strengthening your lock out. Rack pulls emphasize your glutes, hamstrings, and upper back.

Learn how to do rack pulls here.
9. Snatch grip deadlift
Most deadlift variations feature a shoulder-width grip. However, with snatch grip deadlifts, your hands are much wider apart, which increases your range of motion and also forces you to use your upper back more. As such, using a snatch grip for your deadlifts increases trap and rhomboid engagement and also uses your glutes and hamstrings more.

Find out more about snatch grip deadlifts here.
10. Suitcase deadlift
Most deadlift variations are bilateral, meaning they use both arms and legs at the same time. The suitcase deadlift is unilateral or one-sided. Holding the weight with one hand will force you to use your core more to keep your torso upright. So, as well as being an effective leg and back exercise, this move will also hammer your lateral core muscles. You can do suitcase deadlifts with a dumbbell, kettlebell, or barbell gripped in the middle.

Learn how to do suitcase deadlifts here.
Do you have a question about deadlift anatomy or deadlifts in general? No problem, because we’ve got the answers!
1. Are deadlifts safe?
Deadlifts are a reasonably safe exercise, provided you perform them correctly. This means you avoid rounding your lower back, keep your core braced, and don’t try to lift more weight than you can handle. You won’t get pinned under a heavy bar if you cannot complete your rep, so you won’t need spotters or a squat rack.
However, because of the magnitude of the loads involved in the deadlift, muscle strains are not uncommon, and poor form could result in potentially serious lower back injuries.
Trump Junior Deadlift
2. Are deadlifts a leg exercise or a back exercise?
You may have noticed that some programs include deadlifts for legs, while others put them into back workouts. While this may seem confusing or contradictory, both approaches are correct.
Looking at the hips down, you can see the deadlift is a powerful leg exercise that targets the glutes, hamstrings, and, to a lesser degree, the quads. In contrast, the lats, traps, and rhomboids are also very active, so it’s an upper-body exercise, too.
As such, you can do deadlifts in your leg or back workouts – they’re fine in both situations.
That said, if you want to do deadlifts for your back but also want to include them in your leg workouts, you should probably use different variations to avoid doing the same movement twice in one week, e.g., something like rack pulls for your back and Romanian deadlifts for legs.
Doing the same type of deadlift twice per week will probably lead to overtraining.
3. Do I need to wear a belt for deadlifts?
While a lot of lifters wear a lifting belt for deadlifts, they are not compulsory. Wearing a belt allows you to generate more intra-abdominal pressure as your abs will have something to push and brace against. This may allow you to lift heavier weights more safely.
However, if you are training with sub-maximal loads, you should have no problem bracing your abs without the extra support afforded by a weightlifting belt.
So, use a belt if you want to push your limits in the deadlift, but go belt-free if you plan on keeping things light. Finally, remember that a belt doesn’t protect you from bad form or the dangers of trying to lift too much weight. People who wear belts get injured, too!
4. Do you have any good deadlift programs for novice powerlifters?
We sure do! This nine-week program is designed to slowly but surely increase your deadlift one-repetition maximum. It uses several progression methods and accessory exercises to turn you from a novice powerlifter into a deadlifting machine. It’ll also add bulk to your back and posterior chain.
Run through it once, deload for a week, and run it again to see your deadlift 1RM record crumble.
5. My grip is weak – can I use lifting straps for deadlifts?
While you can use lifting straps to bolster a weak grip, doing so will not fix your problem and actually could make matters worse. The more you use straps, the more reliant on them you’ll become, and the weaker your grip will get.
Instead, make it your mission to improve your grip by a) NOT using straps for anything other than your heaviest deadlift sets and b) adding dedicated forearm and grip training to your routine.
You can’t ignore a weakness and hope it’ll get better by itself. Instead, you need to focus on it and work it so it catches up with the rest of your body. While this can be humbling at first, in a few months, your weak grip could become one of your strongest assets and will improve your performance in any exercises that involve your hands, including rows, pull-ups, and even bench presses.
6. Deadlifting with a mixed vs. double overhand grip – what’s the difference?
Using a mixed grip, where one palm faces forward, and the other faces backward, stops the bar from rolling out of your hands. This gives you a more solid grip on the bar and should help you lift heavier weights.
However, using a mixed grip is hard on your supinated (palms forward) biceps and could cause muscle tears. Using the same mixed grip could also lead to muscle imbalances.
For these reasons, if you do choose to use a mixed grip, make sure you switch your hands around set by set. This will probably feel weird initially, and one side will invariably be stronger than the other, but it’s the best way to avoid imbalances and injuries. You should also endeavor to use a double overhand grip for lighter loads, switching to a mixed grip only when needed.

A good deadlift requires a stable platform. Soft-soled sneakers with raised heels compress when loaded and push your weight forward onto your toes, making you much less stable. Taking off your shoes and lifting barefoot or wearing flat, uncushioned minimalist athletic shoes ensures your feet won’t move during your reps.
Powerlifters wear very thin shoes called deadlift slippers to ensure their feet are as flat and low to the ground as possible.
All that said, if you are deadlifting light to moderate weights for general fitness, you probably don’t need to resort to going barefoot or minimalist shoes. But, if you have a tendency to fall forward during deadlifts, flat-soled shoes could be the solution.
More on Deadlifts:

Closing thoughts
From bodybuilders to fitness models to powerlifters to runners to moms to athletes – deadlifts are good for everybody’s body. It’s no surprise that Victorian physical culturists used to call deadlifts the health lift. Even back then, the experts of the day recognized the benefits of this potent lift.
Some coaches and trainers will be quick to tell you that the deadlift is dangerous and it could hurt your back. However, this is only half-true. A poorly performed deadlift can undoubtedly be a back-wrecker. But, done correctly, very few exercises can strengthen your back like deadlifts can.
Squats deserve their title of the king of exercises, but deadlifts are every bit as valuable. So, include both these exercises in your workouts, and enjoy all the benefits that they offer; there is no need to choose between them.

Army PRT Exercises – The Army Physical Readiness Training Drill

Army PRT Exercises – The Army Physical Readiness Training Drill

Watch any movie or video about Army physical training, and you’ll probably see recruits and soldiers clambering over obstacles, running with packs, doing unarmed combat, or participating in other forms of intense exercise.
However, the reality is that a whole lot of basic fitness training precedes these feats of endurance and strength. While military training is tough, it builds up gradually over time, helping to reduce the risk of injury and preventing recruits from “washing out” before their military career begins.
The Army PRT (APRT) is a series of exercises designed to prepare soldiers for more intense physical training. It’s also a great way for civilians to warm up before exercise and develop and maintain a decent all-around fitness level.
In this article, we reveal the exercises that make up the Army Physical Readiness Training Drill.
What is the Army PRT Drill?
The Army PRT Drill is a series of ten simple bodyweight exercises designed to be performed sequentially to a predetermined tempo or cadence. The Army uses it as a warm-up before more intense forms of training and also as a short-but-effective standalone workout.
Soldiers often perform the APRT daily, usually on rising. It can also be used to build the basic fitness required to pass the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT), which all soldiers must do at least twice a year.
The exercises themselves involve no equipment, so they can be done anywhere and anytime, even while on deployment.
The exercises that make up the Army PRT Drill are:

Bend and reach
Rear lunge
High jumper
Squat bender
Forward lunge
Prone row
Bent-leg body twist

Each exercise is typically performed for five to ten “Army reps,” which, because each movement is performed to a cadence, is actually 10-20 regular reps. You may find this challenging if you are unused to doing your exercises this way.  
The aim of the Army PRT Drill is not to overload the muscles or exhaust the participant. Instead, it’s meant to increase heart rate, body temperature, joint mobility, and muscle blood flow. You should feel pleasantly energized after completing the APRT, and not tired to the bone!
The entire ten exercise sequence should take no more than 10-12 minutes, and breaks between exercises should be kept as short as possible. All major joints and muscles are involved in the Army PRT Drill, and its simplicity and low to moderate intensity level means it can be performed daily.
Many military veterans continue to perform the PRT exercises to help them stay in shape and maintain some of their hard-won Army fitness.
Army PRT Exercise Instructions
There are two ways to perform most exercises – the right way and the wrong way. Needless to say, the Army won’t tolerate sloppy exercise technique, so make sure you follow these instructions and make your physical training instructor proud!
Do 5-10 reps of the following exercises using a smooth, controlled tempo.
1. Bend and reach
Purpose: Mobilize the shoulders, hips, and spine.
The first exercise in the Army PRT Drill is the forward bend and reach. This exercise will loosen and warm up your entire posterior chain, which is the collective name for the muscles of the back of your legs, hips, and torso. Take care not to round your back too much, as doing so could lead to injury.

Stand with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart. Pull your shoulders down and back and look straight ahead.
Brace your abs and raise your arms above your head.
Bend your knees slightly, hinge from your hips, and lean forward, reaching your hands between your feet.
Return to the starting position and repeat.

2. Rear lunge
Purpose: Mobilize the hips while improving lower body strength and balance.
Most exercisers should be familiar with lunges. After all, they’re one of the best unilateral leg exercises around. The Army does rear lunges a little differently, but they still offer many of the same benefits. This move is especially beneficial for soldiers as it helps strengthen and stretch the running muscles and builds the balance and agility needed to get behind cover and shoot from a kneeling position.

Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, hands on your hips. Pull your shoulders down and back, brace your core, and look straight ahead.
Take a large step backward and then stop.
Keeping your leg straight, gently press your heel into the floor and push your hips forward to feel a mild stretch in your calf, hips, and quads.
Step your foot back in and then repeat on the opposite leg.
Continue for the desired number of reps.

3. High jumper
Purpose: Improves explosive leg strength and teaches the correct takeoff and landing for jumps.
A soldier’s legs need to absorb a lot of impact when they march, run, and jump. That impact rises significantly when carrying a pack or equipment. This jumping exercise is designed to develop lower body power and teach correct jumping technique to help ward off impact-related injuries.

Stand with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart, knees bent, and arms straight with your hands behind your hips.
Swing your arms forward and up, and jump a few inches into the air.
Lower your arms and perform a second small jump.
Next, swing your arms forward vigorously, and use this momentum to jump high into the air.
Land, lower your arms, and perform another small jump.
Continue this four-count sequence for the desired number of reps.

4. Rower
Purpose: Develop core and hip flexor strength
Core strength is important in the military. A strong core provides support for your lumbar spine, reducing the risk of back injury. A strong core is especially important for infantry soldiers, who must be able to march long distances while carrying heavy packs. This is known as rucking in Army parlance.

Lie on your back with your arms straight and your biceps close to your ears. Brace your core.
Bend your legs, sit up, and take your arms forward so they’re parallel to the ground and outside your knees. Your feet should be flat on the floor.
Lie back down and return to the starting position.
Continue for the desired number of reps.

5. Squat bender
Purpose: Develop lower body endurance and hip/lower back mobility.
The squat bender combines bodyweight or air squats with unweighted Romanian deadlifts. Between them, these two exercises work all your major leg muscles while providing an excellent stretch for your hips and hamstrings. The bodyweight RDL also reinforces correct lifting technique.

Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, hands on your hips. Pull your shoulders down and back and look straight ahead.
Bend your knees and squat down until your thighs are roughly parallel to the ground. Extend your arms out in front of you for balance.
Stand up and return to the starting position.
Next, hinge forward from the hips and reach down toward your toes. Take care not to round your lower back.
Finally, stand back up and return to the starting position.
Repeat the four-count sequence for the desired number of reps.

6. Windmill
Purpose: Develop mobility in the spine, shoulders, and shoulder girdle.
The windmill is an old-school calisthenic mobility exercise. It involves hip hinging and twisting, which stretches your hamstrings and waist while mobilizing your entire spine. Do this exercise slowly, as per the instructions, to avoid injury and get the most from this classic calisthenic movement.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms raised so they’re parallel to the ground. Brace your core and look straight ahead.
Bend your hips and knees and reach down to touch the outside of your left foot with your right hand.
Extend your right arm behind you so the arms form a straight line throughout. Ensure most of the movement comes from your hips and not by rounding your lower back.
Stand back up and repeat to the opposite side.
Continue alternating sides for the required number of reps.

7. Forward lunge
Purpose: Develops balance, mobility, and leg strength.
The Army sure does love lunges! For your seventh PRT exercise, you’ll be doing alternating forward lunges with a somewhat shorter-than-normal step. This increases quads engagement and involves a larger range of motion at the knees. As such, expect to feel this exercise more in your thighs and less in your hips.

Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, hands on your hips. Pull your shoulders down and back and look straight ahead.
Take a small step forward, bend your legs, and try to lower your butt to your rear heel. Keep your torso as upright as possible.
Straighten your legs, step back into the starting position, and repeat on the other side.
Continue alternating legs for the duration of your set.

8. Prone row
Purpose: Strengthen the neck and upper back for greater stability and better posture.
The prone row is an excellent exercise for the neck and upper back. It helps prepare you for shooting from a prone (lying on your front) position and supporting the weight of your helmet. It’s also a good movement for increasing lower back strength and improving your posture. All in all, it’s a perfect exercise for soldiers.

Lie on your front with your arms extended and hands a couple of inches above the floor.
Raise your shoulders and chest off the floor and pull your hands down and into your shoulders like you’re doing a lat pulldown. Clench your fists and lift your head as far as comfortable.
Next, extend your arms, open your hands, and return to the starting position.
Repeat for the desired number of reps.

9. Bent-leg body twist
Purpose: Develop core strength and spine mobility.
This exercise will help mobilize your lumber spine and increase core strength, especially in the obliques or waist muscles. Rotational strength is important for many activities in the military, including pushing, pulling, punching, kicking, and throwing.

Lie on your back with legs bent to 90 degrees and thighs vertical. Extend your arms out to the side to form a T-shape, hands resting on the floor.
Keeping your shoulders and arms on the floor, rotate your hips and lower your knees to the left so they’re a couple of inches above the floor.
Return to the starting position and then repeat the same movement to the right.
Come back to the center and repeat, alternating sides rep by rep.
Continue for the desired number of reps.

10. Push-up
Purpose: Strengthen the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
No Army workout is complete without push-ups! This classic exercise builds upper body strength and endurance and is a staple of military training. Forget the bench press; if you want to develop a functionally strong upper body and arms, push-ups are a must.

Adopt the front support position with your arms, legs, and body straight. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart, fingers pointing forward. Brace your core.
Bend your arms and lower your chest down until your upper arms are parallel to the ground.
Extend your arms and return to the starting position.
Continue for the prescribed number of reps.

Army PRT Exercises Pros
Not sure if the Army PRT is right for you? Consider these pros and then decide!
1. Anywhere, anytime
The exercises in the Army PRT involve no equipment and require very little space. As such, you should be able to do them almost anywhere and anytime. Because of this, you really have no valid excuse for not making the Army PRT Drill part of your daily routine.
2. A full-body workout
The Army PRT works every major muscle and joint, providing a well-rounded and comprehensive workout. Developing all your muscles and joints equally is critical for creating a balanced physique and avoiding muscle imbalances, which can lead to injuries and dysfunction.
3. Easy to learn
Despite a few unfamiliar names, the exercises that make up the Army PRT Drill are generally common and well-known. Many feature in high-school PT classes. They’re also straightforward and easy to learn. While training to a cadence may be challenging at first, you’ll get used to moving in such a controlled fashion. The Army PRT exercises are ideal for all levels, including beginners.
4. Minimal time commitment
Taking no more than 10-12 minutes to complete, doing the Army PRT should fit into even the busiest person’s schedule. Lack of time and facilities are common barriers to exercise participation, but both are no longer an issue with this short workout plan.
5. Easy to modify for all levels
The PRT Drill is usually performed for one lap of five reps done to a set cadence. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t modify it to better suit your current fitness level. For example, beginners can drop the cadence and just do regular reps, which are considerably easier. More capable exercisers can do more reps or more than a single lap.
So, the Army PRT Drill has something to offer all exercisers, from beginners to advanced.
6. Easy to make a habit
This workout is tailor-made to make habitual exercising easier. The ten exercises flow together to form an easy-to-remember routine you can do whenever you have a few minutes free.
Many people struggle to exercise regularly, but committing to doing the Army PRT Drill every day should help develop a strong exercise habit. Doing something simple every day is often better than doing something more challenging less frequently.
Army PRT Exercises Cons  
The Army PRT is a safe and effective way to work out without equipment and in minimal space. However, there are a couple of disadvantages to consider, too:
1. Limited overload
The Army PRT Drill uses your body weight to develop strength, endurance, and mobility. However, if you are strong, light, or already pretty fit, this may not be challenging enough to provide an effective workout.
You can do more reps to overload your muscles, but this can become time-consuming. Alternatively, you can do the PRT wearing a weighted vest to make it more effective.
2. Not many upper body exercises
While the Army PRT Drill is undeniably a full-body program, your legs and core do most of the work. The only upper body exercises are push-ups and prone rows, and the latter is not a very challenging movement.
If you want to increase your upper body strength and endurance, you may want to include more upper body exercises in your workout routine, such as pull-ups, dips, and yet more push-ups. You could also supplement your APRT with resistance exercises such as bench presses, shoulder presses, biceps curls, and lat pulldowns.
3. Not enough training volume
Lasting no more than 10-12 minutes, the Army PRT drill may be too short to provide maximal fitness benefits. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), most adults should try to get about 150 minutes of exercise per week (1). Even if you do the PRT every day, you won’t hit this target.
As such, the PRT will probably work best when performed alongside another form of exercise, e.g., running.
Army PRT Exercises FAQs
Do you have a question about the Army PRT Drill? No worries because we’ve got the answers!
1. Can you share a follow-along version of the Army PRT Drill?
We sure can! This video takes you through the entire PRT Drill and is led by an Army physical training instructor who counts out the cadence for the entire workout. Just watch the demos and follow his lead.

2. How should I cool down after the Army PRT?
While you could just end your workout with a few cool-down stretches, the Army won’t leave you hanging and has a cool-down routine designed to be done after the PRT Drill. Comprising five exercises, this sequence of moves stretches all the muscles you have just been exercising. Follow along with the video, which again is led by an Army physical training instructor.

3. How often should I do the Army PRT Drill?
Because it’s short and not too intense, you can do the Army PRT Drill daily, which is what many soldiers do. However, if that’s too much for you, you should endeavor to do it at least every other day. Doing the APRT less often than this probably won’t produce noticeable results.
4. I’m very unfit – how can I modify the Army PRT to make it easier?
The Army PRT Drill is designed to be done as a non-stop sequence of ten exercises. However, moving quickly from one movement to the next may be too much for some people.
So, do the exercises as described but a) do fewer reps and b) take a moment between each one to catch your breath. Then, as you get fitter, make those breaks shorter until, eventually, you can do the exercises back-to-back.
You could also split the exercises into two five-movement workouts. For example, do the first five exercises one day and the second five the next. Again, as you get fitter, work toward doing the Army PRT Drill as prescribed.
5. When is the best time to do the Army PRT Drill?
The best time to do the Army PRT Drill is whenever it’s convenient. On rising works for some people, while others will prefer to do it later in the day. However, you’ll probably find it easier to create a lasting exercise habit if you do the APRT at the same time each day.
6. Will doing the PRT Drill help me prepare for boot camp?
It’s best to start training early if you plan to join the Army. While boot camp is designed to build your fitness and strength, the entire process will be more manageable if you arrive in decent shape.
So, a few months before your boot camp starts, begin doing some running and basic calisthenic exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, and squats. You should also strive to do the Army PRT Drill daily and have a couple of tries at the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT), so you can be confident that you can pass it.
Related: 5 Simple Exercises – A Daily Calisthenics Routine
7. Can I change any of the exercises in the Army PRT Drill?
You could, but you probably shouldn’t. After all, the APRT Drill was created by the US Army for soldiers, and following orders goes with the job! That said, if one of the exercises bothers an old injury, is painful, or is beyond your abilities, feel free to replace it with something similar.
However, that doesn’t mean you can switch out an exercise just because you find it hard; those are the exercises that drive your fitness improvements. So, rise to the challenge and don’t shy from it, and remember, as they say in the military, you gotta train hard if you want to fight easy.

Closing Thoughts
The Army Physical Readiness Training (APRT) Drill is a sequence of ten simple calisthenic exercises that develops basic all-around fitness, endurance, and strength. Doubling as a warm-up, this program is designed to be done anywhere and anytime.
It is ideal for serving soldiers, veterans, home exercisers, and anyone who enjoys no-frills, equipment-free workouts. It can also be used to help you prepare for the Army Physical Fitness Test, which is a prerequisite for military service.
While the Army PRT has limitations, it can combined easily with other workouts, such as running and lifting weights, to create a balanced training system.
So, if you are looking for a short, straightforward bodyweight workout that you can also use as a daily warm-up, give the Army PRT Drill a try. At less than 10-12 minutes in duration, it’s time efficient, practical, and very convenient.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How much physical activity do adults need? https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm

The 17 Best Standing Abs Exercises for All Fitness Levels

The 17 Best Standing Abs Exercises for All Fitness Levels

We love floor-based abs exercises as much as the next guy, but sometimes it’s nice not to have to lie on a sweaty gym mat or dirty floor to bust out some sit-ups or crunches.
Also, floor-based abs exercises are not exactly functional. After all, apart from sitting up in bed, when was the last time you used your abs to pull your torso upright? Floor abs exercises are often hard to load, too. You’ve got to rely on the weight of your upper body or legs to hit your abs. Depending on your body size and strength, this may be too much or too little weight to work your abs.
The good news is that there are LOTS of great abs exercises you can do while standing. Some are easy and ideal for beginners, while others are hardcore and perfect for more advanced exercisers.
In this article, we reveal the 17 best standing abs exercises for all fitness levels.
Abs Anatomy 101
When most exercisers talk about abs, they actually mean their core. The core is the collective term for all the muscles of the midsection. Some functional fitness experts also like to include additional muscles in their core collective, including the lats and glutes. However, that just complicates an already complex subject!
So, for the purposes of this article, when we say abs, we actually mean the core, and that covers the following muscles:
Core Muscles Anatomy
Rectus abdominus
The rectus abdominis is the long, flat muscle on the front of your stomach. It’s divided into vertical halves and horizontal sections by lines of ligamentous tissue, giving it that famous six-pack appearance.
However, you’ll need to be pretty lean to see these lines, typically below ten-percent body fat for men and under 15 percent for women.
The functions of the rectus abdominis are flexion and lateral flexion of the spine.
The obliques are basically your waist muscles, and there are two sets – the internal and the external obliques. These muscles rotate and laterally flex your spine. However, when both sides co-contract, they also play a part in flexion and work alongside your rectus abdominis.
Transverse abdominis
Known as the TVA for short, this muscle encircles your midsection like a weightlifting belt. When you brace your abs, it contracts inward and compresses your internal organs. This creates intra-abdominal pressure, which helps to support your lumbar spine.
So, while you won’t be able to see your TVA working, you will be able to feel it. The TVA is involved in all standing abs exercises.
Erector spinae
The erector spinae is a group of three muscles, each of which is divided into three sections. These muscles run up either side of your spine and are involved in extension and lateral flexion. Many standing core exercises also involve the erector spinae, despite the fact they’re technically back muscles. In most cases, the erector spinae act as stabilizers.

All standing abs exercises involve all of these muscles. However, depending on the movement performed, some will be working harder than others. Therefore, in the exercise descriptions, we’ll list the muscles in order of which are doing most of the work.

The Benefits of Standing Abs Exercises

While there is nothing wrong with floor-based abs exercises, standing abs exercises offer some noteworthy advantages and benefits. These include:
Increased functionality
Your core plays a critical role in most human movements. In some situations, it acts as a stabilizer to prevent unwanted movement of your spine. In others, the core is responsible for generating force, e.g., pushing, pulling, and throwing.
Regardless of what they are doing, most of these activities occur when you’re on one or two legs and not lying on your back. Therefore, standing abs exercises are often more functional than their supine counterparts.
Standing abs exercises are often more comfortable than similar exercises performed lying on the floor. An exercise mat will help, but one may not be available. With no pressure on your lower back, standing abs exercises are usually more comfortable than floor-based movements.
Not everyone trains in a well-equipped gym. Some people prefer to work out in playgrounds, parks, or other large open spaces. Sure, you COULD take a mat with you for abs exercises, but that’s unnecessary if you do standing abs exercises.
With no mat required and often very little equipment, you can do some standing exercises anywhere and anytime, making them the perfect excuse-free workout.
No more mobility issues
Older exercises and people with mobility issues may find getting down on the floor to do sit-ups, crunches, etc., awkward. Getting back up may present an even more significant challenge. Many standing abs exercises are ideal for older exercises and anyone who finds getting down to floor level difficult.
Standing Abs Exercise Drawbacks
Standing abs exercises are generally safe and effective. However, there are a couple of drawbacks to consider, too:
Limited loading
While there are numerous standing abs exercises that utilize an external load, other movements rely on your body weight for resistance. Because of the direction of gravity, this may mean there is very little tension on the muscles you’re training.
You can contract the target muscles harder to get a better training effect, but, even then, some exercises will be too easy if you already have a well-conditioned core.
Lack of understanding  
Standing abs exercises are a trending topic right now (#standingabs). Unfortunately, this means a lot of wannabe fitness experts are posting standing abs exercises with little understanding of how the core muscles work.
For example, holding a weight in your hands and then twisting your torso does NOT load your obliques. The force is vertical, whereas the obliques work in the transverse plane, i.e., horizontally. In essence, there is no resistance to rotation.
It doesn’t matter if you hold a 20-pound weight or a 100-pounder; twisting with a weight in your hands won’t challenge your obliques. However, your arms will probably get a good workout!
Similarly, doing standing crunches are all but pointless, as the weight (your upper body) is pulling your spine into flexion – your abs aren’t doing much, if any, of the work.
So, don’t make poor exercise choices. Remember that some self-certified fitness influencers are nothing but a pretty face with a six-pack and a loud voice and don’t actually know what they’re talking about.
Instead, think about the function of the muscles you want to engage, perform movements that work that muscle, and then apply a load, if necessary, to make that movement more challenging.
The 17 Best Standing Abs Exercises
Now you know the pros and cons of standing abs exercises and the muscles these movements work. So, it’s time to reveal the 17 best standing abs exercises for all fitness levels!

1. Standing cable crunch
Muscles targeted: Rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis.
The key to an effective crunch is shortening the distance between your sternum and pelvis. Making a discernable C-shape with your spine ensures that your abs do the work, not your hip flexors. If you can’t feel this exercise in the front of your abdomen, there is a good chance you are flexing your hips more than your spine.

Fix a rope handle to a high cable pulley machine. Take one end in each hand and take a step backward to tension the cable.
Pull the handles down so your hands are in front of your shoulders.
Stand with your knees slightly bent, feet shoulder-width apart.
Flex your spine and draw your sternum down toward your pelvis.
Lift your chest to get a stretch in your abs, and repeat.


Easy to scale by reducing or increasing the load.
More effective than the kneeling variation of this exercise.
A very lower back-friendly core exercise.


Exhale as you contract your abs to increase muscle engagement.
Hold the handles in one hand only to work the obliques more.
You can also do this exercise with a resistance band:

2. Pallof press
Muscles targeted: Obliques, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis.
The Pallof press was invented by Bostonian physical therapist John Pallof. This is an anti-core exercise, meaning you’ll be using your midsection to prevent unwanted movement. This is how your core often has to work in nature, making Pallof presses a very functional abs exercise.

Attach a D-shaped handle to a cable machine set to mid-chest height.
Stand side-on to the pulley with the handle in both hands. Your feet should be about shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Brace your core.
Pull your hands into your chest and step away from the machine.
Without moving your hips or shoulders, extend your arms out in front of you.
Bend your arms and return your hands to your chest.
Repeat for the required number of reps and then switch sides.


Minimal lower back stress.
Very scalable – just add or subtract weight according to your needs.
An excellent exercise for integrating the upper and lower body with the core.


The narrower your stance, the more challenging this exercise becomes.
Vary the height of your arms to work your core from different angles.
Do this exercise with a resistance band for home workouts.

3. Overhead Pallof press
Muscles targeted: Rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis.
Where regular Pallof presses are an anti-rotation exercise, this version is an anti-extension exercise, so it hits your anterior abs more than your obliques. This challenging exercise is basically a standing, moving plank.

Attach a rope handle to a high pulley. Grab the handle and then turn your back to the machine. Hold your hands at shoulder height and brace your core. Adopt a split stance for balance.
Without leaning forward or backward, press your arms above your head.
Return your hands to your shoulders and repeat.


A full-body standing abs exercise.
Good for increasing core and upper body stability.
Can be made as hard or as easy as required by adjusting the weight


You can also do this exercise with a resistance band.
The closer/narrower your feet, the more challenging this exercise will be.
Exhale as you raise your arms to increase core engagement.

4. Dumbbell side bend
Muscles targeted: Obliques, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis.
Many people do this exercise with a dumbbell in each hand – don’t be one of them. Using two weights means one dumbbell counterbalances the other, rendering the exercise useless. Use one dumbbell only, and you’ll get a much better core workout.

Hold a dumbbell in one hand, arm by your side. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Brace your core and pull your shoulders down and back.
Lean to the side and lower the weight down the outside of your leg.
Stand upright and repeat.


An effective dynamic oblique exercise.
Good for increasing lateral mobility.
A useful forearm and grip strengthening exercise.


Keep your hips and shoulders squared – no twisting.
Use a kettlebell instead of a dumbbell if you wish.
Hold a weight in one hand only!

5. Landmine full-contact twists
Muscles targeted: Rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominis.
A landmine is a simple device that turns a barbell into a functional workout machine. You can do many exercises with a landmine, and they’re all excellent. No landmine? No problem! Just wedge the end of your barbell into a corner or against the bottom of a squat rack. Full contact twists are an excellent standing core exercise.

Place one end of your barbell in the landmine, and grab the other in both hands.
Lift the bar and hold it above your head with your hands close together, palms facing inward.
Brace your core and pull your shoulders down and back. Press the bar forward and down into the landmine.
Maintaining your core tension, rotate your shoulders and arms and lower the bar down to one side. Turn your hips in the same direction as your arms.
Lift the weight back to the center and repeat on the opposite side.
Continue alternating sides for the duration of your set, driving your arms forward and down throughout.


An excellent exercise for athletes.
Can be performed with heavy weights to develop a strong, powerful core.
A full-body, functional, total core strength exercise.


Raise the weight explosively but lower it slowly to make this exercise as effective as possible.
Don’t just use your arms for this exercise; put your entire body into each rep.
Keep flexing your abs throughout.

6. Saxon side bend
Muscles targeted: Obliques, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis.
The Saxon side bend is named after old-school professional strongman Arthur Saxon. As a strongman performer, Saxon did incredible feats of strength live onstage, often in front of enormous crowds. The Saxon side bend was one of his favorite exercises for developing core strength.

Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold and raise a weight above your head, e.g., a medicine ball or a single dumbbell.
Without twisting your shoulders or hips, lean from one side to the other to challenge your core.
Adjust your range of motion according to your flexibility and mobility.


You don’t need heavy weights for this exercise; a little goes a long way.
Good for improving lumbar spine lateral mobility.
An effective shoulder stability exercise.


Don’t go too heavy too soon – this exercise is more strenuous than it looks!
Hold the weight in front of your chest to shorten the lever and make this exercise easier.
Do not allow your hips or shoulders to twist, as doing so makes this exercise less effective.

7. Cable high-to-low woodchop
Muscles targeted: Obliques, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis.
This exercise is so-called because, when you do it, you look a little like you are chopping wood. The cable woodchop is an effective oblique strengthener and teaches you how to integrate your upper and lower body with your core.

Attach a D-shaped handle to a high cable machine. Hold the handle in both hands and then stand sideways onto the pulley. Take 1-2 steps away to tension the cable.
Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent.
Keeping your arms straight, turn your upper body through 180 degrees so your hands travel diagonally downward to hip height.
Return to the starting position and repeat.
Do the same number of reps on each side.


Easy to modify for all levels of exerciser.
Teaches you how to brace your core while using your upper and lower body.
A very lower back-friendly exercise.


You can also do this exercise with horizontal arms or working from low to high.
Try shifting your weight from one leg to the other as you rotate your upper body.
No cable machine? Do this exercise with a resistance band attached to a sturdy anchor.

8. Standing oblique crunch
Muscles targeted: Obliques, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis.  
Not all standing abs exercises use cables or weights to strengthen your core. This movement might not be overly challenging, but it provides your abs and obliques with a pleasant workout. Best of all, you can do it anywhere and anytime, as no equipment is involved.  

Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Clasp your hands behind your head and press your elbows out and back to open your chest. Brace your core.
Bend one leg and lift your knee out and up. Simultaneously lean sideways and lower your elbow down toward your need.
Lower your leg, stand back up, and repeat.
Do the required number of reps and then switch sides.


A standing, equipment-free abs exercise you can do anywhere and anytime.
Ideal for beginners.
A good way to mobilize your hips and lower back as you work your abs.


Do this exercise with an alternating action if preferred.
Make this exercise harder by wearing ankle weights.
Pause at the mid-point of each rep to maximally contract your abs and make this exercise more effective.

9. Standing bicycle crunch
Muscles targeted: Rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominis.
Regular bicycle crunches are an excellent, if highly challenging, abs exercise. This standing version is far more accessible, making it ideal for beginners. It’s also a useful teaching exercise before attempting full bicycle crunches and can also be used as a warm-up. However, the overload on your abs is pretty low, so make sure you contract your muscles hard to gain any benefits.

Stand with your feet together, knees slightly bent for balance. Place your hands on your temples. Brace your abs.
Bend one leg and lift your knee up and across the front of your body. Simultaneously lean forward and lower your opposite knee to your elbow.
Stand up straight, lower your foot to the floor, and then repeat on the other side.
Continue alternating sides for the duration of your set.


A good standing abs exercise for beginners.
An excellent hip and spine mobility exercise.
A good move to prepare you for full bicycle crunches.


Do not clasp your hands behind your neck, as you are more likely to pull with your arms if you do.
Pause at the midpoint of each rep for maximum effectiveness.
Drive your supporting foot into the floor to make balancing on one leg easier.

10. Single-arm dumbbell press
Muscles targeted: Obliques, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis.
While dumbbell presses are usually viewed as an upper-body exercise, they also provide an effective abs workout. Done standing, the single-arm dumbbell press is as good for your abs as it is for your shoulders.

Hold a dumbbell in one hand at shoulder height. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Brace your core.
Without leaning sideways, press your weight up and overhead to arm’s length.
Lower the weight back to your shoulder and repeat.
On completion of your set, swap sides and repeat.


An effective and accessible lateral core exercise.
A great time-saver – work your core, deltoids, and triceps simultaneously.
An excellent way to integrate your core with your upper body.


Do the same number of reps on both sides.
Stand with your feet closer together to make this exercise harder.
You can also do this exercise with a barbell instead of a dumbbell:

11. Suitcase deadlift
Muscles targeted: Obliques, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis.
When most people do deadlifts, they do them to build full-body strength or a bigger, more muscular back. However, this variation is a very effective if challenging standing abs exercise. You’ll need to use all your core muscles to maintain a neutral spine, so your abs will be acting as stabilizers. This is how your core usually works in nature, so this is a very functional movement.

Place a kettlebell or dumbbell on the floor and stand next to it so the handle is parallel to your feet.
Bend down and hold the handle with a neutral or palms-in grip.
Pull your shoulders down and back, brace your core, and look straight ahead.
Drive your feet into the floor and stand up straight. Do not lean sideways or round your back.
Lower the weight back to the floor, allow it to settle for 1-2 seconds, and repeat.
Turn around and do the same number of reps on the opposite side.


A very functional exercise.
Teaches you how to safely lift heavy objects off the ground.
Helps identify and fix left-to-right strength imbalances.


Use gym chalk to prevent your hands from slipping.
Perform this exercise in front of a mirror to ensure you don’t lean to the side.
You can also do this exercise with a barbell.

12. Single-arm farmer’s walk
Muscles targeted: Obliques, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis.
This is another standing core exercise that many people do for an entirely different reason. Farmer’s walks are a well-known grip and general conditioning exercise. However, when performed using just one weight, it quickly becomes a very challenging abs workout.

Hold a heavy dumbbell or kettlebell in one hand with your arm by your side. Brace your core and set your hips and shoulders so they are level.
Without leaning to either side, walk around your training area.
Having completed the required distance, lower the weight to the floor, swap hands, and repeat.


A very functional standing abs exercise.
An excellent way to spot and fix left-to-right strength imbalances.
A challenging grip-building exercise.


Use chalk to stop your hands from slipping.
Keep your shoulders down and back throughout.
Lower the weight to the floor as you feel your grip starting to give out. Don’t drop the weight.

13. Standing ab wheel rollout
Muscles targeted: Rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis.
Standing abs exercises don’t come much more challenging than the infamous rollout. This exercise combines extended planks with a pull-over arm action, making it one of the most brutal core exercises around. Only attempt this move if you have mastered the kneeling ab wheel rollout.

Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Hold your ab wheel with an overhand grip.
Brace your core, bend your knees slightly, and lean forward to place the ab wheel on the floor in front of your feet.
Keeping your arms straight, push the roller out and away, lowering your body toward the floor. Extend your arms as far as you can without losing core tension.
Pull the wheel back toward your feet, lifting your hips up as you do so.
Continue for the prescribed number of reps.


Probably the most challenging standing abs exercise.
Provides an effective lat-building workout.
An ideal exercise for home workouts.


Do this exercise facing a wall to prevent the wheel from rolling too far.
Only extend your arms as far as comfortable to avoid injuring your lower back.
Rest on your knees to make this exercise easier.

14. TRX Hip drops
Muscles targeted: Obliques, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis.
The TRX was invented by a Navy SEAL who wanted a portable training device he could take on deployment. TRXs can be used to replicate many machine and dumbbell exercises, and there are several unique bodyweight movements you can do with this type of suspension trainer. TRX hip drops are an especially challenging lateral core exercise.


Attach your TRX to a high anchor point. Hold the handles on both hands and raise your arms above your head so your body is straight.
Lean your hips out to the side so your body forms a distinct C shape.
Pull your hips back to the center and repeat.
Continue for the prescribed number of reps and then switch sides.


An excellent exercise for home workouts.
A very functional, challenging standing abs exercise.
Easy to change the difficulty by varying your range of motion.


Place your feet closer together to make this exercise harder.
The longer the straps, the more challenging this exercise becomes.
You can also do this exercise with gymnastic rings and other types of suspension trainer.

15. Single-arm cable chest press
Muscles targeted: Rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominis.
No, we haven’t included this exercise by mistake. Despite its name, the single-arm chest press is actually a terrific standing abs exercise. You’ll need to use all your core muscles to stabilize your midsection as you extend and bend your arm. But yes, it’s also a great chest exercise!

Attach a single handle to a chest-high cable machine. Hold the handle and turn your back on the pulley so the wire runs outside or under your arm.
Step forward into a split stance for balance. Brace your core.
With your hips and shoulders still, press your arm forward and out to full extension.
Return the handle to the side of your chest, and repeat.
Switch sides and do the same number of reps with the opposite arm.


Teaches you how to stabilize your spine while moving your arms.
An excellent exercise for athletes.
An easy exercise to modify for all fitness levels.


Bring your feet closer together to make this exercise more challenging.
Use your core to make sure your torso doesn’t twist.
Pair with single-arm cable rows to work your abs from the front and back.

16. Single-leg Romanian deadlift
Muscles targeted: Obliques, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis.
Single-leg Romanian deadlifts are an excellent exercise for your glutes and hamstrings. However, you’ll also need to use your core to stabilize your spine and prevent your upper body from twisting. As such, it’s also a great standing abs exercise.

Stand with your feet together and a dumbbell or kettlebell in your left hand. Shift your weight onto your right foot. Brace your core and pull your shoulders down and back.
Hinging from your hips, bend forward and lower the weight down the front of your leg. Lift your left leg out behind you for balance.
Stand back up and repeat.
Rest a moment and then change legs, remembering to switch hands, too.


Teaches you how to integrate your core with your upper and lower body.
A very lower back-friendly exercise.
An excellent balance-building workout.


Do this exercise next to a wall and use your free hand for balance if required.
You can also keep your non-supporting foot resting lightly on the floor for balance, i.e., a kickstand or B-stance Romanian deadlift.
Keep your supporting knee slightly bent throughout.

17. Kettlebell around the world
Muscles targeted: Obliques, rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis.
Many of the best standing core exercises work one side of your abs at a time. This one is slightly different as it works your entire core in one straightforward movement. Done with light weights, this exercise is an excellent warm-up for your whole midsection. But, done with greater loads, it’s a challenging yet fun total abs exercise.  

Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent for balance. Brace your abs. Hold a kettlebell in front of your hips.
Swing the weight around your waist, transferring from one hand to the other behind your back and in front of your hips.
Use your core muscles to resist being pulled toward the weight.
Continue for the desired number of reps, rest a moment, and then switch directions.


A very time-efficient exercise.
Very little lower back stress.
An excellent way to mobilize your shoulders and activate your deep core muscles before more demanding exercises.


Keep your feet planted firmly on the floor to maintain your balance.
Lift your chest and set your shoulders down and back throughout.
Use gym chalk to stop the kettlebell handle from slipping out of your hands.

Standing Abs Exercises – FAQs
Do you have a question about standing abs exercises or core training in general? That’s okay because we’ve got the answers!
1. Will these standing abs exercises give me a six-pack?
While many of these exercises involve your six-pack muscle – the rectus abdominis – there is no guarantee that doing them will give you six-pack abs. That’s because, for the contours of your abs to be visible, you need to have a low body fat percentage. This is typically ten percent or less for men and below 15 percent for women.
It’s entirely possible to have well-develop abs but for them not to be visible because they’re hidden under a layer of fat.
So, while these standing abs exercises COULD lead to a six-pack, your results hinge on your diet as much as your workouts.
2. How many reps and sets should I do of these exercises?
You can do anywhere from 5 to 30 reps to train your abs. Low reps with heavy weights are best for building brute strength, while higher reps and lighter loads are better for endurance, hypertrophy, and general fitness.
However, some exercises lend themselves to higher or lower reps. For example, suitcase deadlifts work well with bigger loads, while standing bicycle crunches are more suitable for higher reps.
Very high reps, i.e., more than 30, are not recommended as they are largely a waste of time and not challenging enough to be effective.
Regardless, you should take each set to within a couple of reps of failure. Easy sets won’t have much of an effect on the condition of your abs.
Regarding the number of sets, 2-4 should be sufficient for most people. If you feel you need to do more than this, you probably aren’t training close enough to failure, or you are resting too long between sets.
3. XYZ exercise hurts my back – what gives?
While the majority of these standing abs exercises are very lower back-friendly, some will put a strain on your lumbar spine. Others can cause back pain when performed incorrectly or with too much weight.
So, if any of these exercises hurt your back, firstly, make sure you are performing them correctly. Perfect form is critical for a safe and pain-free workout. Then dial back the weight a little to see if that helps.
If you still feel your lower back, skip that movement and do something else. It could be that the exercise in question just doesn’t suit you.
4. Are standing abs exercises better than those performed lying down?
While standing abs exercises offer several advantages, that doesn’t mean they’re better than more traditional lying abs exercises. Ultimately, the best exercises for you are the ones you like, and that meet your workout needs.
If you want to isolate your abs, lying exercises are often best, as they don’t involve many additional muscle groups. But, if you want a more functional workout, standing exercises are arguably the better choice.
Or, you could just combine standing and lying abs exercises and enjoy all the benefits these two different types of training provide. There is no need to choose between them.
5. Will these exercises burn belly fat?
Many people think that doing lots of abs exercises will burn belly fat. Sadly, this is nothing but an old exercise myth. Your body stores and then burns fat from all over your body, not just from the areas you train. As such, if you want to burn fat and get lean, you need to work your entire body and not just where you want to lose the fat from.
So, sorry, these exercises will NOT burn belly fat.
Closing Thoughts  
There is no need to head straight to the floor to train your abs. In fact, there are plenty of standing abs exercises that are every bit as effective as the ubiquitous crunches, sit-ups, and leg raises.
Movements like cable high-to-low woodchops, Saxon side bends, standing cable crunches, and standing bicycle crunches are ideal for those times when you don’t want to lie down or just want to hit your abs from a different, more functional angle.
Are standing abs exercises better than ab exercises done on the floor? Not necessarily. However, they may be more suitable for some exercisers and are worth including in any well-balanced core workout plan.

Five Must-Do Exercises for A Bigger Bench Press

Five Must-Do Exercises for A Bigger Bench Press

The barbell bench press is arguably the most popular strength training exercise on the planet. Almost everyone who lifts weights includes bench presses in their workouts. When you get two lifters together, invariably, one will ask the other, “Bro, how much can you bench?”
Bodybuilders do bench presses to build chest size, while athletes do them to increase upper-body pushing strength. As well as being a popular muscle and strength-building exercise, the bench press is one of the lifts contested in powerlifting and is occasionally featured in strongman events.
Regardless of why you bench press, most exercisers want to know the secret to lifting more weight. After all, a big bench press can win you major bragging rights. Learn the average bench press by age, weight, gender, and experience level here.
In this article, we share five must-do bench press-boosting accessory exercises.

Five Key Exercises for Boosting Your Bench Press
Has your bench press progress ground to a halt? Do you want to put more plates on the bar? Do you want to score a new bench press one-repetition maximum?
We hear you!
Supplement your bench press workouts with the following must-do assistance exercises.
1. Close grip bench press
Muscles targeted: Triceps, pectoralis major, anterior deltoids.
While bench presses are classed as a chest exercise, your triceps are also heavily involved. In fact, because of their smaller size, the triceps usually fatigue and fail before the pecs during heavy or high-rep bench presses.
Benching with a narrower-than-standard grip means your triceps must work harder than usual. This extra overload should carry over and boost your bench press performance.

Lie on the bench with your eyes directly under the barbell.
Hold the bar with an overhand shoulder-width grip or slightly narrower. Pull your shoulders down and back, brace your core, and plant your feet firmly on the floor.
Unrack the bar and hold it over your chest.
Bend your arms and lower the bar to lightly touch your chest.
Drive the bar back up and repeat.


Boosts triceps strength.
Builds a stronger lockout.
More shoulder-friendly than parallel bar dips.


Avoid “bodybuilder-style” close grip bench presses where your thumbs are touching. These can cause shoulder, elbow, and wrist problems.
This exercise works best with moderate to heavy weights and low to medium reps, e.g., sets of 4-8.
Lower the bar under control and then drive it up explosively.

Read more on close grip bench press and alternatives.
2. Paused bench press
Muscles targeted: Pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, triceps.
There are several performance-boosting reasons to do paused bench presses. Firstly, they break the eccentric/concentric stretch-shortening reflex, making each rep harder. You’ll need to work MUCH harder to drive the weight up and off your chest. Next, they teach you to be more explosive, so you can blast the bar through your sticking points. Finally, it’s the best way to eliminate bouncing the bar off your chest, which, frankly, is cheating!

Lie on the bench with your eyes directly under the barbell.
Hold the bar with a wider-than-shoulder-width overhand grip. Pull your shoulders down and back, brace your core, and plant your feet firmly on the floor.
Unrack the bar and hold it over your chest.
Bend your arms and lower the bar to lightly touch your chest. Do not relax or let out your breath.
Pause for 1-5 seconds.
Drive the bar back up to arm’s length and repeat as necessary.


Good for developing speed and power off your chest.
Keeps each rep honest by eliminating bouncing.
Teaches you how to stay tight and grind out hard reps.


Vary the length of your pauses from one second up to five seconds per rep.
Keep your reps relatively low – 3-6 per set is ideal.
Don’t go too heavy too soon; pauses make weights feel much heavier.

3. Floor press
Muscles targeted: Pectoralis major, triceps, anterior deltoids.  
A lot of benchers struggle with their lockout. They have no problem getting the bar up and off their chests but are often unable to complete their rep. This is why you should always bench press with a spotter on hand or in a power rack. Floor presses emphasize the last stage of the bench press and can help you improve your lockout strength. As an added benefit, floor presses are also very shoulder-friendly and ideal for banged-up bodybuilders and powerlifters.

Set up your barbell in a squat rack set to about knee height or slightly higher.
Lie on the floor with your eyes directly beneath the bar.
Hold the bar with a wider-than-shoulder-width overhand grip. Pull your shoulders down and back, brace your core, and plant your feet firmly on the floor.
Unrack the weight and hold it over your chest.
Bend your arms and lower the bar toward your chest until your triceps lightly touch the floor.
Drive the bar back up and repeat.


Builds a stronger lockout.
Increases triceps size and strength.
Very shoulder friendly.


You can also do this exercise with a close grip to increase triceps engagement.
Try this exercise with bent or straight legs to see which you prefer.
You can also do floor presses with dumbbells:

Read more on Floor Press.
4. Wide grip bench press
Muscles targeted: Pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, triceps.
While the triceps are a common weak link in the bench press, weak pecs could also be holding you back. After all, the pectoralis major is the agonist or prime mover during bench presses. Wide grip bench presses deemphasize your triceps, so your pecs have to work harder. This is also an excellent chest-building exercise. 

Lie on the bench with your eyes directly under the barbell.
Hold the bar so your hands are 3-6 inches wider than your regular bench press grip.
Pull your shoulders down and back, brace your core, and plant your feet firmly on the floor.
Unrack the bar and hold it over your chest.
Bend your arms and lower the bar to lightly touch your chest.
Drive the bar back up to arm’s length and repeat as necessary.


Increases strength and power off your chest.
Good for building bigger pecs.
Reduces your range of motion.


Combine this exercise with paused reps for a more intense chest workout.
You can also do this exercise with dumbbells if preferred.
Reduce the weight on the bar; this exercise is more strenuous than it looks!

5. Push-ups
Muscles targeted: Pectoralis major, anterior deltoids, triceps.
The humble push-up might seem like an unlikely way to boost your bench press, but it’s actually one of the best exercises you can do. Push-ups work the same muscles as bench presses, but they’re not as systemically fatiguing, so you can accumulate a ton of volume without detracting from your bench press workouts. Plus, you can modify push-ups to replicate close grip, wide grip, and paused bench presses, so you can do your must-do bench press assistance exercises at home. Bench pressers in the know do LOTS of push-ups!

Kneel on all fours and place your hands roughly shoulder-width apart, fingers pointing forward. Pull your shoulders out and back, and brace your core.
Walk your feet out and back so your body is straight.
Bend your arms and lower your chest down to within an inch of the floor.
Drive yourself back up and repeat.


Easy to modify and adapt to suit all strength levels.
Very functional and shoulder-friendly.
You can do push-ups anywhere and anytime, making them the perfect excuse-free bench press assistance exercise.


Bring your hands in to emphasize your triceps, or move them out to work your chest more.
Raise your feet to put more weight on your hands. Alternatively, use a weighted vest or resistance band behind your back.
Put your hands on yoga blocks or use push-up handles to increase your range of motion and the difficulty of this exercise.

Bigger Bench Press – FAQs  
Do you have a question about training for a stronger bench press? No sweat because we’ve got all the answers!
1. How often should I do bench presses?
To get good at something, you need to practice doing it, including the bench press. So, while a lot of lifters bench press just once a week, usually on a Monday, you’ll improve faster if you hit the bench twice or even three times a week.
However, you should avoid doing so much bench pressing per workout that you’re tired for your next session. Instead, focus on quality rather than quantity.
You should also rotate bench press variations to avoid overuse injuries, plateaus, and boredom, and it’s also a good idea to vary the intensity level and set/rep scheme from one workout to the next.
For example:

Bench press – 5 sets of 3 reps
Wide grip bench press – 2 sets of 8 reps
Push-ups – 2 sets of 30 reps


Paused bench press – 4 sets of 5 reps
Close grip bench presses – 2 sets of 10 reps
Dumbbell bench press – 2 sets of 12 reps


Floor press – 4 sets of 8 reps
Bench press – 2 sets of 6 reps
Close-grip push-ups – 2 sets of 25 reps

2. How important is good technique for a bigger bench press?
While brute strength can take you a long way, good bench press technique can add a lot of weight to your lift. Proper bench press form ensures that all your energy goes into the movement and that none is wasted. Tricks like leg drive and elbow tucking vs. flaring can also have a marked impact on your bench press performance.
Good technique is also generally safer and less likely to cause injuries.
It’s beyond the scope of this article to teach you how to bench press correctly, but you’ll find all the information you need here: Bench Press Ultimate Guide
3. How much should I be able to bench press?
Several factors can affect and determine your ultimate bench press performance. For example, long arms and a shallow chest mean you’ll have to lower and lift the weight further than someone with short arms and a barrel chest. As such, some people are built to bench press, while others are not.
Bodyweight, gender, age, and experience can also affect how much weight you can bench press.
That said, there are charts depicting average bench press performance by age and gender, which will tell you how your lifts compare to other people in your demographic.
Check out this article to see how your bench press measures up.
4. Are exercises like triceps pushdowns and skull crushers good bench press assistance exercises?
While pushdowns and skull crushers are great triceps isolation exercises, they may not be the best way to improve your bench press performance. That’s because neither of these exercises works your triceps the way they function during bench presses.
During the bench press, the elbows and shoulders move simultaneously. However, pushdowns, etc., only involve the elbow joint, so they won’t necessarily carry over well to bench presses.
Generally, the best assistance exercises closely replicate the movement you want to improve. That’s why our list of five must-do exercises for a bigger bench press is mostly variations of the bench press.
5. So, I only need to train my chest and triceps for a bigger bench press, right?
While the chest and triceps are the engines that drive your bench press, they don’t work alone. You also need a strong upper back to bench press heavy weights.
During the bench press, muscles including your latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, trapezius, and deltoids, work hard to stabilize your shoulders and shoulder girdle. Any weakness will result in unwanted movement and wasted energy.
As such, as well as training your pecs and triceps, you also need to train your upper back if you want to build a bigger bench press. Good exercises for this purpose include:

Closing Thoughts
The bench press is an emotive exercise, and a lot of lifters want to get better at it. However, good bench press performances don’t happen by accident – you’ll need to train to build a bigger bench press.
The good news is that no matter your current bench press ability, you can improve it. Following a smart, progressive bench press program will help, as will supplementing your workouts with the best bench press assistance exercises. Set some goals, and then crush them.
Include these must-do assistance exercises in your upper body workouts; with time and effort, your bench press will GROW!

Rowing Machine Form Guide: Use The Rower To The Best Effect

Rowing Machine Form Guide: Use The Rower To The Best Effect

There are plenty of options out there when it comes to getting a good cardio workout. As a personal trainer, I’ve tried them all. Yet after 30 years of training athletes, sports people, and everyday gym goers, I’ve settled on just one device — the rowing machine. 
Rowing has a lot going for it. Besides working more than 80% of your muscles, it provides a joint-friendly way to get a great cardio workout. Your rowing workout, though, is only as effective as your form. Unless you learn how to do it right, you will develop poor habits that could lead to injuries. In this article, I’ll explain exactly what proper rowing machine form looks like. I’ll also cover the most frequent rowing machine form mistakes and address the most common rowing machine form questions. 
Rowing Machine Benefits

Before we get into the specifics of how to row with proper form, let’s consider the benefits of rowing:
Full Body Training
Lower body muscles are the main focus of most cardiac activities. This is because their primary workout movement is typically some variant of walking. These workouts effectively tone and strengthen the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. However, the upper body gets very little stimulation.
Rowing is different, as 85% of your body’s muscles are used during a rowing workout. Besides the leg muscles, rowing engages the latissimus dorsi and trapezius muscles of the upper back, the deltoids, biceps, and core, as well as the muscles that run down either side of the spine. 
Working out on a rowing machine won’t give you bodybuilder-like muscles but will strengthen your muscles. You can increase the rowing resistance if you want to employ more pulling power to complete the rowing motion. The strength and endurance of your muscles will increase by performing hundreds or even thousands of repetitions while rowing. 
Joint Friendly Cardio
Rowing is a classic example of a closed-chain exercise. This is because your feet are always in contact with the foot platform. In contrast, most cardio exercises have an open chain, which causes the feet to rise and drop frequently. This results in recurrent foot strikes.
Since rowing is a closed chain movement, there is minimal impact pressure on the ankles, knees, and hips. Rowing also relieves the compressive pressure on the spine because it is a sitting workout. 
Rowing not only lessens the strain on your joints but it also improves the health of those joints. In a 2014 study, 24 participants were followed for eight weeks as they exercised on rowing machines. Their knee, shoulder, and elbow joints’ capacity for rotation had increased by an astounding 30% on average by the time the trial was over. [1]
Calorie Burn

Rowing burns a whole lot of calories. Your heart and lungs have to work harder to deliver the nourishment required for those muscles to work since you are using both your upper and lower body muscles. Because of this, rowing is a fantastic option for those looking to lose weight.
For a 180-pound person, a 30-minute workout of moderate-intensity rowing will burn about 200 calories. They could easily burn more than twice as many calories if they increased their effort. You can regularly lose weight by combining a daily rowing program with a calorie-reduced, nutritious diet.

Cardio Workout
Rowing is an excellent cardiovascular workout. Since cardiovascular exercise is aerobic, oxygen must be consumed to fuel the activity. That oxygen and other nutrients are delivered to the working muscles through the bloodstream. Your cardiovascular system facilitates this process.
Your heart is the central organ in your cardiovascular system. The stronger it is, the more effectively it will pump the blood that delivers the nutrients to your cells. Rowing strengthens the heart so it can act as a more efficient pump. 
Understanding the Rowing Machine
Rowing machines are designed to simulate the experience of rowing on the water. The parts of a rowing machine work together to enable the user to perform the four key movements that a rower performs:


Here are nine rowing machine parts that you need to become familiar with:

Flywheel: The flywheel is the large wheel at the front of the machine. It is connected to the handle by a cable. When you pull on the cable, you create resistance. This may be air resistance through fab blades, magnetic resistance through magnets, or water resistance as the flywheel churns through the water. 
Damper: Air and water resistance rowers usually feature a damper. This is a lever that controls the amount of air that gets to the fan. Most dampers will have settings from 1 to 10. The higher you set the damper, the more air flows to the fan. This makes the rower feel heavier and, therefore, more challenging to operate.
Footplates: The footplates are positioned where the rail meets the front housing of the machine. The best footplates pivot to allow for natural ankle motion while rowing. They should also be adjustable and feature sturdy foot straps to allow you to lock your feet in place securely. Getting the correct foot placement will help with proper rowing form. You won’t be able to drive as hard and risk lower back damage if your heel height is too low. Your stroke length will be constrained, and your form will deteriorate if your feet are too high in the footplate.
Seat: Many modern seats are ergonomically contoured for comfort. Others are molded, padded, or flat. You can increase your sitting comfort by sitting a few inches forward from the back of the seat and not leaning back excessively at the top of each rowing stroke.
Seat Rollers: Seat rollers sit on the underside of the seat, connecting it to the rail. High-quality rollers will allow for smooth movement up and down the rail.
Handle: The handle may be ergonomically contoured for comfort. It should be long enough to allow you to grip it out wide. The best handles will also have a center cut out to allow you to row one-handed. 
Rail: The rail is the central part of the frame that the seat moves up and down. It may use aluminum or steel. The rail may also be parallel to the floor or slightly angled. Angled rails are more challenging because they offer more resistance. 
Monitor: The monitor displays your key training data, including your time, strokes per minute, total strokes, calories burned, and heart rate.
Frame: The frame of a rower may be made of aluminum, steel, or wood. It should have a maximum user weight of at least 50 pounds heavier than the user. This will ensure the rower is sturdy and won’t move around during use. 

Proper Body Positioning
The correct rowing form starts with your setup. Begin by sitting on the rower seat and putting your feet on the foot pedals. Adjust the footrests so they are aligned with your feet, and then secure the foot straps so you are locked in. 
Sit upright with a naturally slight back arch and lean forward to grab the handles with an overhand grip. Hold the handles with a relaxed grip, avoiding squeezing too tightly.
Lean slightly forward while maintaining a neutral spine position and bending your knees slightly. Keep your shoulders relaxed and down. Finally, engage your core to activate your abs and lower back muscles.

Executing the Rowing Stroke
The rowing stroke has four distinct parts — catch, drive, finish, and return. Let’s break down each part with an explanation of its purpose.
The Catch
The catch is the portion of the stroke where you are most squeezed and tense at the beginning. Your arms are straight, your knees and hips are bent, your ankles are dorsiflexed, and you feel like there is nowhere for your stomach to go. In terms of rowing on the water, this is the portion of the stroke where your oar has just been lowered into the water, and you are about to push or drag the oar through the water to propel the boat.
The Drive
During this phase of the stroke, you push incredibly hard with your leg muscles to propel the oar through the water and propel the boat forward. It is what determines the numbers on the rowing machine’s LCD that displays your split time and indicate how much effort you are exerting. This is what accelerates you. It is the portion of the stroke where you put in all the effort, requiring a powerful leg push.
The Finish
The finish comes at the conclusion of the drive. This is the point where the oar emerges from the water. Your core is tight, your arms are bent, your knees are straight, and your hips are extended further than before. After completing the movement of the handle, you are prepared to bring it back to the front, or the catch, position.
The Recovery
You must go through the recovery portion of the rowing stroke to get from the finish back to the catch. It is called recovery because you get to rest (very briefly) and recover during this part. 
Putting It All Together

Each of the four phases is covered with the following cue:
“Legs, core, arms … arms, core, legs”
Many people have a natural tendency to think “pull” when in the catch position. They want to pull with their arms when they should be pushing with their legs first. Your legs provide 60% of the force for the movement. 
So, most of the work is being performed by your leg muscles, the largest in your body. However, if you pull with your arms first, your smaller, weaker arms do most of the work, producing much less force and efficiency. So, straighten your knees and push back through your feet rather than pulling with your arms first while using those bigger, stronger leg muscles. Your legs will straighten, and the seat will slide backward. 
Once your legs are straight, you can begin to open up your hips by moving from a slightly forward-bent position to a slightly backward position. Keep your core tight as you bring your arms into the action. 
By this time, your legs have already exerted so much force that the flywheel is turning very quickly, and you do not need to exert much force with your arms to bend your elbows and pull the handle close to your body. About 20% of the power for the rowing stroke comes from the arms. 
The driving phase of the stroke was formed by the three motions (legs, core, and arms). You are now in the finish position when your legs are straight, your core is slightly leaned back to the 1 o’clock position, your elbows are bent, and the handle is close to your body.
You must go through the recovery phase to return to the catch position. To do this, you simply reverse the actions you’ve just performed, making it arms, core, and legs. 
As soon as you are in the finish position, immediately push your hands away from you and straighten your elbows to allow the handle to pull your arms in front of you. This will be made easier with the help of the handle and chain recoil. When your elbows are straight, you close the hip angle, which causes your trunk to go from 1 to 11 o’clock. You must perform the leg component of the stroke in reverse once your core and trunk have reached that position. This will bring you back to the catch position.
You are now ready to start the stroke cycle over again.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Here are the ten common mistakes that people make on the rowing machine and how to fix them:
1. Overgipping the Handle
You should grip the handle with a relaxed grip. There is no need to grab it tightly or overgrip with the wrists angled downward. Your fingers should be comfortable around the handle with your thumbs underneath. Your wrists should remain flat throughout the entire rowing stroke.
2. Leaning Forward in the Catch Position
People frequently slump forwards at the catch to reach further forwards. This results in the rounding of the upper and mid-back. This is not the best position for your shoulders or back. Instead, try sitting straighter-backed and more upright, but not so straight that your spine is overextended. 
If your back is rounded with your arms far in front of you in the catch position, you will struggle to maintain contact with your body. That’s because you rely more on your ligaments and arms to start rowing than back and shoulders. 
You want to be in the catch position with your back straight, hips still tilted forwards at 11 o’clock, core engaged, and lats (back shoulder) engaged. Pull your shoulders back and down to engage the lats. 
3. Breaking the Arms at the Catch
Your arms should be as straight as possible in the catch position. This allows you to more effectively connect the handle to the power of your leg drive. So, avoid the tendency to bend the elbows in the catch; that will come as you move into the drive.
4. Chicken Wing Arms
Chicken wing arms occur when you stick your elbows out to the side in the finish position. This results in quite a lot of energy loss. Allowing the elbows to return past the body with relaxed rather than hunched shoulders is far more efficient. 
5. Lunging at the Catch
It’s common to see people lunging their torso forward just before the catch position. This puts excessive strain on your lower back and could result in pulling a muscle in the mid-back. Establish the proper forward upper body lean during recovery before you bend your knees to avoid this tendency. Your shoulders should be in front of your hips before you move into the catch position. Do not deviate from this position.
6. Overreaching at the Catch
Avoid reaching too far toward the flywheel in the catch position. Doing so puts you in a weaker, compromised position. You want your torso to be in a 1 o’clock position, with your shoulders in front of the hips. Do not overextend the shoulders, keeping them down and relaxed.
7. Leaning Too Far Back in the Finish Position
Leaning too back in the finish position is the most common mistake I see among rookies. Doing so negatively affects your balance and stability, puts excessive strain on the lower back, and prevents you from adequately engaging the upper back, glutes, quads, and hamstrings. 
In the finish position, your torso should be in the 1 o’clock position. Another cue is to look at the chain or belt that connects the handle to the flywheel. It should be parallel to the floor throughout the stroke, including in the finish position. You are leaning too far back if it is angled upward in the finish position. 
8. Only Pushing Through the Heel in the Drive Position
Let’s now focus on what part of your foot you are pushing through in the drive position. In the catch position, many people lift the heel and push through the toes. That is perfectly fine, but as you transition into the drive, you must drop your heels to push through the entire foot — not just the heel or toe. 
Some people find they can only push through the heel as they complete the drive position. This can result in your shin and toe muscles being overworked, which can also result in an injury. 
9. Bending the Knees Too Early on the Recovery
If you bend your knees too early on the recovery, your arms have to row too high or follow an arcing movement. Maintain a parallel chain position throughout the entire stroke. Achieve this by extending the arms and allowing your body to swing naturally so that the hands and handle clear the knees before you bend your knees. 
10. Rushing the Slide
If you try to move forward too quickly on the rail as you transition from recovery to catch, you won’t be able to establish a smooth rowing cadence. Allow time during the recovery phase to breathe, and ensure you’re in the proper position for the next drive. 
Watch The Correct Technique for Rowing Machine Exercise:

Frequently Asked Questions
Why is the rowing technique important?
By learning proper technique, you will be able to avoid common rowing machine injuries, especially those relating to the lower back. You will also become a more efficient rower, able to burn more calories with less wasted effort and to row faster and in a way that engages more muscles. 
What key cues should I think about when rowing?
Good rowing form can be distilled to a simple six-word cue — “legs, core, arms … arms, core, legs.”
You can follow the proper bodily sequence to achieve proper rowing form by repeating this cue to yourself. 
What muscles does rowing work the most?
The main muscles worked when rowing are the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, upper back, lower back, and core. Rowing has been described as a horizontal deadlift repeated hundreds of times over.
Wrap Up
Rowing is one of the most effective forms of cardio you can do. It is also one of the safest, being extremely joint-friendly. However, the benefits you’ll get from rowing are only as good as your technique. Take the time to apply the technique guidance we’ve provided, avoid the 10 common rowing mistakes, and your rowing workouts will be far more productive, safe, and enjoyable. 

Kang SR, Yu CH, Han KS, Kwon TK. Comparative analysis of basal physical fitness and muscle function in relation to muscle balance pattern using rowing machines. Biomed Mater Eng. 2014;24(6):2425-35. doi: 10.3233/BME-141056. PMID: 25226943.