Thursday, December 22, 2016

Simple Workout Variation - Don Pfeiffer (1987)

More by Don Pfeiffer:

Don Pfeiffer (1987) 

Every year thousands of people take up bodybuilding, either competitively or for their own enjoyment. Unfortunately, the majority of these individuals will quit in less than one year. Why? 

In some instances a person quits because he or she is simply not willing to work as hard as is required. To them, the necessary effort is not justified by the potential benefits, and they often opt for a much less strenuous activity.

Others quit because they are not satisfied with the progress they are making. However, this is usually the result of unrealistic expectations. Many novice trainees have delusions of grandeur, expecting to be Mr. America overnight. When they discover that six months of hard effort has resulted in only modest gains, they quit in disgust.

Of course, there are other reasons why people give up on bodybuilding training, but the two already mentioned are the biggest reasons why people quit. In their excellent book Lift Your Way to Youthful Fitness, Dr. Terry Todd and his wife Jan state that boredom kills more fitness programs than any other causes. In other words, there is a lack of variety. 

To me, this is utterly ridiculous because there are so many variables in training -- sets, reps, poundages, exercises, methods of training, etc. -- that if one so desired he could train every day and never do the same workout twice. 

Without a doubt, the greatest variation lies in the area of exercise selection. In his monumental work, Keys to the Inner Universe, four-time Mr. Universe Bill Pearl lists well over 1,000 different exercises and by no means is this a complete directory. In past issues of this magazine (Muscular Development), Dr. Ken Leistner has presented several innovative and effective exercises. To this list I would like to add a few more that will put new life into your workouts and prevent boredom from setting in. 

Seated Shoulder Shrug

Have you ever used the Nautilus neck and shoulder machine? This apparatus, which allows the user to perform a shrugging movement while seated, is my favorite method of performing the shoulder shrug. When I don't have access to this machine I simply substitute the seated shoulder shrug. To perform this exercise you will need a cambered bar. 

Begin by sitting on a bench with the bar on the floor directly underneath the bench. Bend over and grab the bar and then return to an upright sitting position. From there, simply shrug your shoulders. It is important that the cambered part of the bar is facing downward. A pair of heavy dumbbells can also be used.

Prone Barbell Row

There is probably no better exercise for the upper back than the bentover barbell row, having been used by generations of bodybuilders with equally good results. Because of the nature of the exercise (the bent over position), many bodybuilders experience lower back problems and as a result have to discontinue the exercise.

Some are able to circumvent this problem by using a head support positioned slightly above waist height. While this effectively removes the stress from the lower back, there is an even more effective and result producing version -- the prone barbell row. As with seated shrugging, you will need a cambered bar (or heavy dumbbells). Assume a face down position on a bench, with the bar underneath the bench -- once again with the cambered part facing downward. From there simply pull the bar to your chest.

To start the exercise it's best to place the ends of the loaded bar on two small blocks, enabling you to reach the bar while face down on the bench. On each rep do not touch the blocks as you'll only shorten the range of motion. After the last rep put the bar back up on the blocks.

Not only does this exercise eliminate the low back problem, it enhances the exercise by providing a slightly increased range of motion.

Serratus Shrugs

Few bodybuilders give any consideration to developing their serratus muscles. Here's an exercise that does exactly that.

Taking the same position as you would for the bench press, press the weight over your chest to lockout. Now, instead of letting it back down, with your arms fully extended, shrug the bar for several reps. I strongly recommend that you have a spotter when performing this exercise.

Decline-Press Triceps-Extension

The name of this exercise might be a little bit confusing as it is not a triceps extension performed while in a decline position. However, it is a form of triceps extension that is performed on the Nautilus decline press machine. Please note that this exercise can also be performed on the Nautilus double chest machine.

To perform this exercise you'll need the proper Nautilus machine and a board approximately 40" x 5" x 1". It may be necessary to laminate two 1/2 inch pieces of plywood together to get a one-inch thick piece. Once you are seated in the machine, place the board against the top inside part of both handles. Grasp the board with your palms facing out and your fingers wrapped over the top. Using a close grip, push the board outward and then slowly return it. The movement is the same as the decline press except you are using the board and the closer grip places more stress on the triceps.

Wide-Grip Drag Curls

Compared to conventional barbell curls the the wide-grip drag curl has two basic differences: it is a straight line movement, and it has resistance in the contracted position -- unlike the conventional curl, which is a rotary movement and does not have resistance in the contracted position.

As its name states, begin by taking a wide collar-to-collar grip on the bar. You should also use a "false grip" -- that is, a thumbless one. Keeping your elbows as far back as possible and the bar against your body, 'curl' the bar up as far as possible. Upon reaching this position, forcibly contract your biceps and then slowly lower the weight and repeat. This exercise will never replace regular curls, but it is certainly an excellent complementary variation.

One-Legged Squats

Why would you want to perform one-legged squats when the regular two-legged version is the one of the most productive exercises around? First of all, it will add more variety to your workouts. Unlike the regular squat, the one-legged version requires that you balance yourself, which results in improved coordination and stability.

Also, the potential for back injury is greatly reduced because there is no compression on the spine. The resistance is in your hands, not on your back. Finally, if one leg is substantially weaker than the other you can direct your efforts towards that leg with this ipsilateral version.

To obtain maximum benefit it is best to perform the exercise on a box with a dumbbell in each hand. This will allow you to squat down as far as possible, and to increase the resistance as you get stronger. Unless you are concentrating on one weak leg, be sure to switch legs each set.

Decline Cable Pullovers

Concluding this very short list is an excellent exercise for developing the outer pectorals. To perform this exercise start by taking the proper position on the decline bench -- you should be in a supine (face up) position and your head should be below your hips.

With your arms out at your sides and your palms facing toward your feet, pull the cables forward until your hands meet at a point just over your hips. Be sure to keep your arms slightly bent throughout the movement.

Please remember that the intent of these exercises is to add variety to your workouts. While they are also productive exercises they are by no means total panaceas. Therefore, be realistic about your expectations when using these exercises.

In addition, whenever you add one of these exercises to your workout, go into it gradually. Start with a light weight and terminate the exercise before it gets too difficult. Only after you have become familiar with the movement should you increase the resistance and challenge yourself.

In closing, I would like to quote a passage from Fred Hatfield's excellent book, Bodybuilding: A Scientific Approach: "The absolute key to bodybuilding success is variation." 



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