Nothing gets me more excited than heading to the gym to try out a new way to torture my body! All kidding aside, new and unique forms to work out a stubborn muscle group are one of the best ways to burst through a muscle building and strength plateau.
If you go in the gym and perform the same 3-4 exercises for each muscle group, you are surely going to burn yourself out quick. Not only is this boring – but it’s counter productive to your gains.
Your muscles respond to new forms of overload and stress – and one of the best ways to do this is new exercises. Working out a muscle group from a slightly different angle can make a world of difference.
For example – I was having an incredibly difficult time working out my biceps. I was overloading them with crazy amounts of weight, short rest times, heavy volume, etc – but I simply could not make myself sore. I figured if I was doing all of this and my biceps were never sore I wasn’t creating enough healthy micro tears to build bigger and stronger biceps.
I started to do some research and found a few really unique bicep exercises that attacked the muscle from different angles. You see – training your biceps is a lot more than just doing hammer curls and straight bar curls. The first day I incorporated a new bicep exercise (number 3 on the list) – I was super sore after just 5 sets! Ahhh, the power of changing up your routine!
This article is going to unveil the 7 best muscle building exercises you simply aren’t doing. I would be willing to bet that there is at least a 95 percent chance you haven’t performed any of these incredible muscle building exercises.
We are going to cover it all in this article – biceps, triceps, deltoids, pectorals, abdominals, and of course legs! Are you ready to try out some new muscle building exercises? You better be as excited as me – because these are some of the best you will ever try!
1. Deltoids – Anti Gravity Press
This is one of the most hardcore deltoid exercises I guarantee you aren’t doing. In fact – I had never heard of this exercise until a few weeks ago when I was going through some old workout videos on GregPlitt.com(RIP).
I tried this my first shoulder workout after seeing it and I can honestly say it is one of the most challenging shoulder exercises you will ever do. It feels like you are really nailing the middle head of your deltoids – and if you are having trouble getting those stubborn deltoids to grow I highly recommend you try this one out.
How to perform the Anti Gravity Press
You want to start off this exercise by placing a bar on the ground behind the head of an incline bench. You will lay on the bench face down, with your stomach and chest securely on the bench. With a pronated grip you will pick up the barbell from the floor. Flexing your elbows, perform a reverse curl to bring the bar near your chest. This is your starting position. To begin the movement, press the barbell out in front of your head by extending your elbows. Keep your arms parallel to the ground throughout the movement. Return to the starting position and repeat.
Focus on your form with this exercise and keeping constant tension on your deltoids. This one will blast your deltoids if you do it right.
Aim for 4 Total Sets of this exercise in the 8-12 repetition range with 60 seconds rest between sets.
2. Abs – Weighted Planks
Weighted planks are one of the best exercises you will ever perform to build the the actual muscles of your abs. Too many guys make the mistake of doing a lot of body weight abdominal exercises – but if you want to sculpt an incredible set of six pack abs you need to place some overload on them.
Think about this for a second – your abdominals are a muscle, just like your biceps and pectorals. Would you hope to build bigger pectorals with doing push ups or heavy bench pressing?
Doing weighted planks is one of the best ways to build the abdominals muscles and shred fat in your mid section.
How to Perform the Weighted Plank
To perform the weighted plank you are doing to need a bit of assistance. You are going to place your forearms and elbows on the ground and align your body in a straight line. To keep your body straight you are going to suck in your gut and tense your abs. Your toes should be resting comfortably on the ground in a similar position as if you are doing pushups.
Get nice and comfortable and have your spotter place either a 25, 45 lb., or stack of 45 lb. plates on your lower back (If you want to try and compete with me I am up to three 45 lb. plates and can hold it for 75 seconds.) Hold this position for as long as possible and then slowly descend to the ground.
Your core is going to burn big time after this one! Expect some sore abdominals for a few days following this exercise.
Try 3 total sets with a 60 second hold each set. Limit your rest times to 45 seconds – your six pack will thank you!
3. Biceps – Cable Overhead Lat Pull Down Curl
This bicep exercise made me sore after just a few sets – and is my new favorite arm exercise of 2016. I was in the gym doing countless sets of dumb bell and ez bar curls but simply could not get my biceps sore.
Then I discovered the incredible lat pull down curl and my biceps have actually grown half of an inch in the last 6 months. This is pretty incredible figuring I have been lifting for over 10 years! Expect to see some serious arm gains from this one.
How to perform the Cable overhead lat pull down curl
To perform the cable overhead lat pull down curl you need to find the lateral pull down back machine at your gym.
You are going to start off on this machine with an underhand grip, or your palms facing towards your face. First make sure that you’re in the right seated position. You want to scoot as close to the machine as possible, so your stomach is against the pad.
Place your hands on an inside grip, slightly wider than shoulder width apart and let your arms hang freely with an underhand grip.
The 1st step of the movement is to squeeze your biceps as you reach your underhand gripped palms behind your head. Go down and bring the bar behind your head while getting a nice squeeze on your biceps. Then slowly return to the starting position and repeat. Keep those biceps under tension!
This exercise is all about time under tension. Aim for 4 total sets, 12-15 total repetitions, and no more than 75 seconds rest between sets.
4. Legs – Dumbbell Single Leg Split Squat
This exercise is going to annihilate your quadriceps – so be prepared. One of my biggest goals of 2015 is to bring up my legs, and I will throw this awesome quad exercise in on all my leg day workouts. I actually feel a more direct burn in my quadriceps during this exercise than when I am performing barbell squats.
How to perform the dumbbell single leg split squat
To start this exercise, you will have your feet staggered with one leg behind you and elevated about 12-18 inches on a flat bench and another leg in front of you.
The leg that is behind you will be in a crouched position with your toes on the bench, and the foot in front of you will be the quadricep you are training, and your foot will be firmly on the ground.
Squat down by flexing your knee and hip of the front leg until the knee of your rear leg is almost touching the ground. Return to the original starting position by extending the hip and knee of the forward quadriceps. Continue – and then switch legs and repeat.
You should be performing 10 total repetitions on each leg for a total of 3 sets. Limit your rest time to 90 seconds.
5. Triceps – Seated Reverse Grip Overhead DB Triceps Extension
My triceps are another stubborn muscle group and I went deep into the research vault to find some new triceps exercises that would help me carve out some serious horse shoes!
This one took the cake – and is one of the best triceps exercises I have ever tried. You will feel a huge pump in your triceps after this one – and it’s a great change of pace from the boring Db Overhead triceps extensions and skull crushes.
How to perform the seated reverse grip overhead DB triceps extension
Start off this exercise seated in a 90-degree position. Hold the dumb bells in an underhand grip as if you are performing a regular biceps curl. Extend your arms until the dumb bells are completely overhead. The key is you want to maintain a straight back throughout the movement. Slowly lower the Db’s to your upper traps until you achieve 90 degrees of flexion on your triceps. After a brief pause – flex your triceps to raise the dumbbells back to the starting position. Make sure to squeeze those triceps hard and keep your shoulders back to avoid letting your elbows fall forward – taking tension off the biceps.
Try doing 4 sets of this exercise for a total of 8-12 repetitions per set. Keep rest times minimal with no more than 60 seconds.
6. Chest: Stability Ball DB Bench Press
This is an incredible pectoral shaping exercise that will recruit different muscle fibers in your chest that aren’t usually targeted during bench press and other standard db presses.
Since the stability ball is really unstable it causes you to keep constant tension on muscles you normally wouldn’t use during the normal db bench. You will be fighting to keep the dumb bells under control, and recruiting different muscle fibers in your pecs.
You won’t be able to go as heavy on this exercise vs a traditional db bench press – but the instability of the ball will make your chest really sore. Try this awesome variation and swap it out for that boring Db bench press you are probably doing every chest workout.
How to perform the stability ball DB bench press
The stability ball db bench press is performed very similar to the flat db bench press except that you will be lying on the inflatable stability ball vs a flat bench. You want to make sure you are somewhat stable on the stability ball since you will be pressing heavy weights overhead – so place your upper back and traps on the ball and your feet flat on the ground shoulder width apart.
Grab the dumb bells and hold them in a power grip position. Go down slowly until the dumb bells tap the outer portion of your pectoral muscles and then squeeze those pectorals as you come up.
Try to challenge yourself and go heavy on this exercise. Aim for 4 total sets in the 6-8 repetition range. Rest 90 seconds between sets.
7. Legs: Barbell Front Squat
This is one of the most killer quadriceps exercises of all time and a lot more challenging than regular back squats. The reason you don’t see many guys perform this exercise is because quite simply – it is really difficult! If you want to bring up those stubborn legs and not resemble a guy who skips leg day frequently you will want to crush some barbell front squats on the regular!
How to Perform the Barbell Front Squat
The main difference between the barbell back squat and front squat is the placement of the bar. For the barbell front squat, you are going to brace the barbell with the front of your shoulders. You will do this by crossing your arms and placing hands on top of the barbell with your upper arms parallel to the floor. Squat down slowly by bending your hips back while allowing your knees to bend forward. Push your butt back as you squat down deep – keeping your back straight and your knees pointed in the same direction as your feet.
This is a heavy compound movement – so make sure not to overdo it if you don’t squat frequently. Start off with performing 4 total sets in the 8-10 repetition range. Rest a full 2 minutes so you are not fatigued and can place a lot of overload on your quadriceps.