Below are some of the more exotic exercises that we include in many of our programs. If you aren’t familiar with an exercise in one of our e-books, this page should have a description of it along with photos and/or a video clip (coming soon) that shows proper form. If not, let us know. We will continually add to this page as technique questions arise.
Rockers (contracted position, flexors and extensors). Stand with a dumbbell in each hand at arm’s length, ’bells at your outer thighs. Curl your hands in and up, which hits the forearm flexors, lower, then curl your hands out and up, which hits the extensors. This is a very efficient forearm exercise. If you don’t have time for any other forearm work, add this move to the end of your arm workout for one or two sets of 20 reps—that’s 20 reps each way, alternating in and up, then out and up, rocking back and forth. For example, you can do it after barbell curls in the Time-Bomb Training Programs on page 26 and 28 of X-traordinary Muscle-Building Workouts. (It’s included in the Volume/Intensity-Fusion Routine and the X-Rep Reload Program in that e-book.) Remember, stronger forearms help you use heavier weights for biceps work, which translates into bigger upper arms! Stronger forearms have also been shown to increase bench press strength. Forearm work is worth a little extra time.
QUADS (front thighs)
Sissy squats (stretch position, quads). Do these near an upright you can hold to stabilize yourself throughout the movement (or do them in a Smith machine with a towel looped around the bar so you can hang onto the ends). Rise up on your toes and squat down, but do not bend at the waist. Keep your torso and thighs on the same plane—like you’re doing the limbo under a low bar. When your hamstrings meet your calves, and you feel a distinct pull in your front-thigh muscles, reverse the movement, driving up with your quads till you’re two-thirds of the way to fully erect. In other words, do not raise up high enough to remove tension from your quads. Do not pause at the top or bottom of the stroke. This is the only pure stretch exercise for quads, so it’s included in all 3D Positions-of-Flexion quad programs in 3D Muscle Building. It’s also included in many of our other e-books. Remember, stretch-position exercises have been linked to hyperplasia, or muscle-fiber splitting, and in one animal study progressive stretch overload produced a 300 percent muscle mass increase in only one month! (See Appendix 1—Stretch Overload Research in X-traordinary Muscle-Building Workouts for more on that study as well as unique ways to enhance stretch overload in the gym.)
Incline one-arm laterals (stretch position, medial delts). For these you sit sideways on an incline bench, your nonworking shoulder against the bench so your torso is at an angle. That’s important because you will have a dumbbell in the hand of your outer arm, and that dumbbell must pull your outer arm down and across your torso to create some stretch in your medial-delt head. Keep a slight bend in your working arm, allow the dumbbell to move as close to you as possible as your arm moves in front of your body. Before tension falls off your delt, right before your arm is perpendicular to the floor, reverse the downward movement and raise the dumbbell in an arc till your arm is parallel with the floor. When you reach that point, immediately reverse the movement and control the downward arc to the low, stretch position. Maintain tension on your medial-delt head throughout the set—you should feel a distinct pull on that head at the bottom of the stroke. This and one-arm cable laterals are the only exercises that provide real stretch for the medial-delt head, so one is included in all 3D Positions-of-Flexion delt programs in 3D Muscle Building, as well as most of our other e-books. Remember, stretch-position exercises have been linked to hyperplasia, or muscle-fiber splitting, and in one animal study progressive stretch overload produced a 300 percent muscle mass increase in only one month! (See Appendix 1—Stretch Overload Research in X-traordinary Muscle-Building Workouts for more on that study as well as unique ways to enhance stretch overload in the gym.)
Full-range crunches (stretch and contracted positions, abs). Recline on a bench press bench, head and upper back hanging off the end and feet up on the bar that’s resting arcross the bench uprights. Lower your head and shoulders down past the plane of the bench till you feel a stretch in your abs, then, without pausing, curl your upper body up into a crunch position. At the top, abs-contracted point, don’t pause, but slowly lower (uncurl) back to the stretch position and then immediately execute another rep.
You can do full-range crunches more effectively and comfortably on an Ab Bench or similar machines in some gyms. Keep in mind that you can’t reach the stretch position of the rectus abdominis with standard on-the-floor crunches, as the floor stops your torso from moving past your hips—low-back-arched position. Muscle stretch is key for fastest development (optimal fiber activation), so full-range crunches or Ab Bench crunches are included in all 3D Positions-of-Flexion ab programs in most of the programs in all of our e-books.
Incline kneeups (midrange and lower-contracted positions, abs). Position yourself on a situp slant board so your head is at the top high end. Grab the sides of the bench next to your head for stability, then with a slight bend at your knees raise your legs until your knees are above your chest and your hips are rolled up off the bench. Without pausing lower your legs in an arc till your heels almost touch the floor, then reverse the downward stroke without pausing and pull your legs up to the highest position again. Keep tension on your abs throughout the set; don’t throw your legs up and allow your feet to travel back behind your head. At the top of each rep your feet should be above your face. To add weight you can use a low cable and ankle straps. This exercise should be performed before full-range crunches or Ab Bench crunches, as explained in the X-traordinary Abs e-book. (It contains many precise, quick ab workouts and also explains why hanging kneeups are an inferior exercise.)
Stiff-arm pulldowns (contracted position, lats). Stand in front of a pulldown machine, take a shoulder-width overgrip on the bar and step back till your torso is angled slightly forward. With the bar at eye level, bring it down in an arc to your front thighs while keeping a slight bend at your elbows. When the bar reaches your thighs, your lats should be contracted. Without pausing, follow the same arc on the negative stroke till the bar is at eye level again. Repeat.
Rope rows (contracted position, lats). Hook a rope attachment to a low pulley, grab an end with each hand, step back and bend forward at your waist. You will maintain the forward bend at your waist, torso angled at about 45 degrees, throughout the set. Extend your arms till they are almost straight, then pull back as you bend your elbows (row) till your hands touch your lower abs (oblique area). That’s the point at which your lats are completely contracted. Extend your arms, then repeat the row.
Cable flyes (stretch and contracted positions, chest). Put a flat bench in the center of the cable crossover machine, grab a low handle in each hand and recline on the bench. Pull the handles up in an arc so they meet over your chest. Pulling high—handles touching over your face or higher—will hit your upper-pec fibers. Or touching them low over your crotch will hit lower pecs.
High-low cable flyes is an exercise on which you pull the handles up over your forehead, hold them together and move them in an arc down to a point over your crotch; keep them together and move them back over your forehead, then release into the stretch position for one rep. That’s a highly concentrated contracted-position exercise that you’ll feel in your pecs from top to bottom.
Cable crossups (contracted position, upper chest). Stand or kneel in the middle of the cable crossover machine, slightly forward of the pulleys. Grab a low-pulley handle in each hand, holding them down and out away from your outer thighs and slightly back behind your torso—to create a pull in your upper pecs. Now pull the handles up and together till they meet in front of your chest, or slightly higher for high-pec emphasis.
Cable pushouts (stretch position, triceps). Hook a rope attachment to a high pulley, grab an end with each hand, turn and face away from the machine and assume a forward lunge position so your torso is parallel to the floor. Bend your elbows so you feel a stretch in your triceps, then extend your forearms till your arms are straight. These mimick overhead extensions, but with less elbow stress. Remember, stretch-position exercises have been linked to hyperplasia, or muscle-fiber splitting, and in one animal study progressive stretch overload produced a 300 percent muscle mass increase in only one month! (See Appendix 1—Stretch Overload Research in X-traordinary Muscle-Building Workouts for more on that study.) Note that the top, lockout position emphasizes the outer triceps heads, while the bottom engages the long head.