Making a Good Exercise Great: 6 Ways to Spice Up Your Routine

Making a Good Exercise Great: 6 Ways to Spice Up Your Routine

Whether you're a newbie gym goer or more seasoned trainee, odds are there is something you could be doing to improve even your most powerful moves. The difference between incremental progress and downright stellar results often comes down to slight variations in your form, the angle at which you're hitting the muscle, and other seemingly minor factors. Toward that end, here are 6 techniques for getting the most out of an already solid exercise.

1. Dumbbell Preacher Curls

Preacher curls are amazing for building up both the biceps and the brachialis, which helps create a bigger "peak." For a new twist on an old favorite exercise, try performing one set of preacher curls with your hand holding the middle of the dumbbell, another set with your hand gripping up by the inner plate, and a final set with your hand gripping up by the outer plate. This will target the biceps from different angles for maximum effect.

2. Back Extensions

Whoever thought a back exercise could double as a hamstring-burner? Push your heels against the pad during your entire set of back extensions and you'll feel the hammies get a killer workout as they're kept under constant tension. The important thing here is to allow your lower back to relax and "pull with the hamstrings." Make sure not to hyperextend and only go high enough that you experience a tight squeeze in the back of your legs.

3. Barbell Curls

If you're one of those gym goers who avoids barbell curls because they seem to train your forearms more than your biceps . . . well, you're probably doing them wrong. Next time do this exercise with wrists cocked downward, which minimizes engagement of the forearm flexors and helps place the emphasis on the biceps.

4. Leg Presses

Leg presses are by far one of the best moves for building massive wheels. If you're looking to up the challenge factor, try performing one-legged presses. You can also angle your torso and lean your leg inward about 45 degrees to recruit more of the outer thigh muscle and torch the side of your glutes.

5. Bench Press

For the guys out there having trouble thickening your upper pecs, it's time to switch up the motion. Start by lying on a flat bench and using an underhand, shoulder-width grip to grasp the barbell. Bring the bar down to your nipples, then concentrate on thrusting it up and back to trigger your upper pecs.

6. Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows

Most people perform one-arm dumbbell rows kneeling on a bench with one leg behind them. However, there's a variation on this move that's very powerful for isolating the lats. Place an incline bench at a 45-degree angle, then lay on it chest-down. With one arm, row the dumbbell powerfully backward while your other arm grips the underside of the bench to hold your torso in a fixed position.

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