The shoulder press, aka the military press, is a great exercise for shoulders and triceps. You can also do this exercise seated, but I find I am able to keep my back in a much more natural position if I have the freedom of standing. Doing the press standing demands that your torso muscles (abs, […]
The row is a great compound back and biceps exercise. Use it as one of the foundational moves of your back workout. In this type of movement, the role of the back muscles is to retract, or pull back, the shoulder blades. The biceps help out by bending the elbow. If you want to focus […]
The leg press, as I am fond of telling you, is a poor substitute for squats. You cannot learn to do squats by doing the leg press, nor should you leg press till you get “strong enough to squat”. Heresy and foolishness! However, if there’s some reason you can’t squat (for example, some cyclists don’t […]
The lat pulldown is a good beginner back exercise. It’s also a stepping stone to being able to do pullups, which should be your eventual goal. The “lat” part in the name refers to the latissimus dorsi, which are the big triangular muscles of your back that sweep along both sides of your ribcage.
Hamstrings are the muscles at the back of the thigh. They have two main functions: to straighten (extend) the hip, and to bend (flex) the knee. Squatting-type movements (such as squats and deadlifts) as well as hip extension movements such as stiff-legged deadlifts and good mornings will address the hip extension component of the hamstrings. […]
A strong lower back is essential to stabilize the torso and to prevent injury. Many people find that when they add extra lower back work to their workouts, their squats and deadlifts improve. In addition, a strong lower back is a healthy and pain-free lower back, which is important for desk job monkeys like me, as well as anyone who includes bending, reaching, and picking things up as part of their daily routine (mothers of small children, that’s probably you).
The deadlift is one of the best exercises (second only to squats and the Olympic lifts) for overall development, particularly in the lower body. In addition, it’s a very functional lift. We often squat down to pick something up: groceries, a laundry basket, a child, the ratty couch that your deadbeat friend is making you move again, some guy with a gambling problem that your boss asked you to whack, etc. The deadlift, more than most other lifts, prepares you for “real life”. The premise of the deadlift is simply squatting down to pick something (a “dead weight”) off the floor.
The bench press is usually the gold standard of bragging rights, which is ridiculous because first, it’s often done wrong, and second, it can’t hold a candle to squats for difficulty. Still, you hear lots of gym goofballs yabbering about how much they can bench. Like most gym boasts, very few can back it up with good solid form.