Why are specific exercises not done in the gym even though they are great for building muscle size and strength? Usually, it is because they are tough, and people don’t want to do them. Sadly that means these gems are used less, and new lifters are not exposed to them or taught them how to do them correctly.
This educational gap has widened over the years as mainstream gyms focus more on machines and classes and less on free weights and solid personal training. While you can still find these classics in some gyms, they should be in every gym because they are just that good.
Why not rediscover these excellent exercises and help bring them back? If you can handle them, that is.
Top Exercises People Avoid
- Barbell Front Rows – These can be done either wide grip or close grip, and both are great for working the shoulders, trapezius, and neck. The wide grip variety is great for hitting all three heads of the deltoids when done properly. The key is not to overload the barbell to look impressive. Take a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip in a standing position. Lead with your elbows and draw the bar up the front of your body. As the bar gets to your lower chest, pull your shoulder blades up and together.
- Front Squats – This is a classic old school bodybuilder lift that people avoid because it can be tricky to balance, and it is hard to hold the bar across your chest. Place the bar across your front delts and use them as padding, cross your arms, and keep the elbows up high to support the barbell and hold it in place with your hands. The squat motion is about the same, but the weight is placed your thighs moreover, so they get more direct work than a back squat.
- Reverse Grip Barbell Rows – Honestly, a lot of people don’t do barbell rows anymore, but even fewer do them reverse grip style, which was popularized by Dorian Yates in his Mr. Olympia days. Load the barbell up and take it off the rack with a curl grip. Bend forward at the waist with knees slightly bent. Lower the barbell until your arms are hanging straight below you. Then row the weight towards your size. It is the arc the weight travels that primarily works the back muscles and gets a significant contraction.
- Overhead Squat – These are beginning to become more popular with people who do Crossfit style workouts. This exercise builds overall strength in your body, including the core and shoulder girdle. Press the barbell overhead with a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip. Then hold it in place somewhat behind your head and do some squats. The weight has to be light enough to press and then keep in place for your reps.
- Barbell Good Mornings – People started substituting hyperextensions for this classic exercise, and slowly, it has died out. But it is excellent for the lower back, stabilizers, glutes, and hamstrings. Stand with a light barbell across your shoulders with feet slightly apart, and knees slightly bent like for a squat. Keeping your back flat and head up, bend at the waist until parallel to the floor, and then straighten back up.
These five exercises hardly ever see the light of day anymore at the gym, but they should. Unlike dinosaurs that became extinct because they didn’t fit into the world anymore, these gems are classics that build the body like machines can’t replicate no other can for the overall effect they have on your body. So dust them off and incorporate them into your routine for some recent gains!