The idea for this new version of Daily Specialization Training came to me as I was re-reading the famous story of Milos of Crotona in ancient Greece, who lifted a calf (a baby cow…not the calf muscle!) every day until that calf grew into a bull. I’m sure you’ve heard this one! This is an elegant example of the power of long-term, progressive resistance.
The hanging leg raise is a GREAT lower abdominal exercise. But it does have a few disadvantages – the most prominent is that it can put a fair bit of pressure on the lower back at the bottom of the rep.
This variation of the leg raise is one I came up with for increasing explosiveness in the abs and hip flexors but also serves to overcome the issue of tension in the lower back – you basically blow past that point in the range of motion!
The Swing is a classic movement that targets almost every major muscle group in your body, though most specifically on the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, lower back). It’s one of the single best exercises you can do in the gym!
This exercise is often done using kettlebells, though you can also use dumbells very effectively as well, if you don’t have access to kettlebells, which is the version I’m going to focus on here…especially since it’s not often you find enough kettlebells in one place to really do a drop style of set like this. Dumbells, absolutely.
If you’re familiar with the floor press, this is a “bench” version of that, basically. If you’re not familiar with the floor press, it still is, but I’m going to tell you what the means
The floor press is a bench press done laying on the floor. The reason it’s useful is that at the bottom, your upper arms rest on the floor, which allows you to take tension off the pecs so you’re starting with zero elastic tension at the bottom of every rep. This helps work the muscles harder because of that missing assistance.
This is an excellent martial arts, MMA or wrestling exercise…especially useful for those who have exert explosive rotational power when lying on the ground. You’ll be using the gluteus medius and minimus muscles (the abductors of the hips), to roll from side to side while holding a dumbell at your chest.
And while this would seem to primarily hit the core hard, you will get a good hip workout out of it as well.
If you want to fully develop your back in terms of definition and detail, you have to go beyond just doing deadlifts, heavy rows and chin-ups for mass…you need to attack your lats with two distinct patterns of pulling movements…vertical and horizontal…done with strict form.
Vertical back movements consist of chin-ups, pull-ups and various forms of pulldowns. Horizontal movements are your rowing movements (in this case, horizontal means relative to the torso – a barbell row is in absolute terms a vertical path of movement as you row the bar up but the bar path itself is horizontal relative to where your upper body is positioned).
Now, most people instinctively realize this and train both patterns of movement in their back workouts…in separate exercises.
What if you could cover BOTH patterns of movement in ONE exercise…
This is my “secret” exercise for improving what is generally the weakest point of a lifter once you start getting into near-maximal weights on the deadlift…and that’s the core. More specifically, it’s the core “folding” as the pressure of the heavy weight overcomes the bracing pressure you’re able to exert with your core to support your torso.
That’s where this exercise comes into play…and it targets that issue VERY specifically. When done consistently, you could absolutely increase your deadlift by 20 to 50 lbs or more, depending on how limiting your core is to start with AND you’ll be able to maintain better lumber spine position as you’re lifting, which will protect your back.
The Barbell Bench Press is obviously the most common exercise for working the chest…yet it has a major flaw. A good portion of the movement doesn’t necessarily focus on the pecs. The top half of the movement involves a lot of triceps activation.
So how do we increase the specific tension being placed on the pecs during the barbell bench press? Easy. We focus more time on the bottom 1/4 of the exercise, where the pecs are under greater stretch.
This is done by using a technique called “one and a quarter reps”.
If you’re familiar with the plank exercise, you know how good it is for overall core strength and stability. The normal plank is done on both elbows, in the prone position. The side plank is used to target the muscles of the side abdominal wall (duh) and it’s an excellent one, too.
Now we’re going to extend the concept and add some resistance to that side plank and really challenge your core.
The Abdominal Plank is one of the most effective and simple abdominal exercises you can do.
If you’re not familiar with the Plank, your basically hold your body in a stiff, horizontal position on your forearms and toes (on the floor), maintaining a straight body position for as long as possible. It’s a great exercise you can do anywhere.
THIS exercise is a version of the plan where instead of holding your body in the horizontal position, using some small changes, you’ll instead be holding it an angle.