Tired of doing the same boring things? Mix it up and try these seven exercises and variations to make your training more challenging. These will add some excitement to your routine and get you bigger and stronger. Women might start paying attention to you…maybe. These aren’t listed in any particular order.
1. Heavy farmer carries: Does your grip strength suck? Give these a try. There isn’t anything like running around with 400 lbs while you grip the farmer carry bar for dear life. Farmer carries will definitely improve your grip strength, and an improved grip means an improved deadlift, bench press, and chin-up.
They also strengthen your traps and core and improve shoulder, core, and hip stability. If you want to work the core more, you can do offset farmer carries by only holding one weight. This will force you to use your obliques to stabilize your torso and keep you from leaning to one side. Heavy farmer carries are tough. The best way to approach these is to grab a handful of chalk, sack up, and hold on to the weight.
One great tip I’ve learned is to chalk the outside of your index finger all the way to the outside of your thumb. That way when you grip the bar, your thumb should be wrapped around your index finger. The chalk will provide an extra solid grip. Carrying heavy things definitely rates high on the badass meter.
2. Fat Gripz: These things are another awesome, simple way to improve your grip strength. They are cheap compared to buying a traditional fat bar and they fit around almost anything. These will challenge your grip by forcing you to squeeze the hell out of the bar. In addition, you’ll take your forearms to a new level of ‘jacktidue.’ You can use them with dumbbells or barbells, for deadlifts, or on a TRX. They can be used on almost anything. The possibilities are endless.
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3. Chains: Just the sound chains make in the weight room is badass enough. The idea behind chains is to use accommodating resistance. For example, take the chain bench press. At the bottom of the bench press, the load will be the lightest because most of the chain links are on the ground. As you press the bar up, each chain link rises off the floor and makes the load heavier.
Chains are a great way to add variety and help you blast through sticking points. You can use them for deadlifts, squats, push-ups, and bench presses just to name a few.
4. Low setting Prowler: This sled from EliteFTS will destroy you. Push this bastard on the low setting at the end of a hard training session and you will be on the ground for the next 15 minutes. Try these like Eric Cressey at Cressey Performance. Push the Prowler on an unforgiving rubber floor. They’re probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Your legs will be on fire and you’ll be in a ton of pain, but these will definitely increase the size and strength of your legs. Three 20-yard trips will have you headed for the trash can.
5. Ropes: Battle ropes are a great tool for metabolic conditioning. Wrap these around something sturdy and get after it. There are a ton of different variations you can do to prevent boredom. You can also throw the rope over a chin-up bar and do rope chin-ups. These will challenge your grip and add variety to your program. Or tie these to your badass Prowler and do standing sled pulls Strongman style. Get a good base and start pulling the sled toward you.
6. Tire/sledgehammer: Get a huge tire from a junkyard and you can do some serious work. First off, you can beat the crap out of the tire with a sledgehammer. This is similar to overhead medicine ball slams. It develops power and core strength. Use it for conditioning or just raw power. Once you’re done beating the piss out of the tire with a sledgehammer, use it for tire flips or tire battles. As long as you have good hip mobility, you can get low and flip the tire over.
If you’re doing these for time, the trick is to flip the tire over and drive it into the ground with a hard push to speed up the process. You can also grab a buddy and get the tire upright. Then stand on opposite ends of the tire and push it back and forth trying to completely knock it over while your partner does the same. This is a great upper body plyometric exercise.
7. Airdyne bike sprints: How can bike sprints be badass? Airdyne bikes aren’t your average bikes. These have fans in them that increase the resistance as you pedal. The harder you pedal, the more it sucks. These are a great conditioning tool.
Start out with a 15-second all out sprint with 45 seconds of rest. Do eight total sprints. Each week, add two additional sprints. After three weeks, increase the sprint time to 20 seconds and rest for 40 seconds. Then progress to 0.5-mile sprints. Time and reps can be adjusted to your level of conditioning.
•Week 1: 15:45 X 8
•Week 2: 15:45 X 10
•Week 3: 15:45 X 12
•Week 4: 20:40 X 8
•Week 5: 20:40 X 10
•Week 6: 20:40 X 12
•Week 7: 0.5 X 1
•Week 8: 0.5 X 2 (The goal is to finish in less than one minute, 10 seconds. Time how long it takes to complete the 0.5 miles at a 1:2 work/rest ratio.)
•Week 9: 0.5 X 3
(Guest Post from David Rak, as published on www.EliteFTS.com)