I love new versions of things.
iPads, clothing, food… you name it, I want to try it.
Workouts are no different. If I can find a new way to do an “old” exercise, I get excited. It’s as motivating as having new tennis shoes.
That’s why my Work It Out series focuses on changing up how you perform the exercise. Writing all-new workouts is fun, but that’s not your only option for continuing to make progress and ensuring you don’t plateau.
The Disclaimer: I am not a certified anything. I am a figure competitor and I like to workout. A lot. Don’t sue me if you hurt yourself or don’t look like Jamie Eason after performing these moves.
The theory behind this is similar to Fulls & Partials, allowing you to build up the smaller muscles in a group. This is no as excuse to have bad form or to slack. Be purposeful about how you are using half reps. Each half rep is focusing your energy and working your muscles differently, helping to build strength. These may start easy, but by the time you do 8-10 reps, you will be on fire. That burn? It means you’re going to see results.
To execute this technique, do 1 full rep and then do a partial rep. This completes 1 rep. You will do 1st and 3rd sets on the bottom half to the mid-point, and the 2nd and 4th sets from the midpoint q to the top.
How can you use this technique?
Many people think this is just an exercise for big, burly dudes. Notsomuch. The bench press is a great exercise for hitting your chest, shoulders, and triceps. It’s one of the most effective exercises you can do to give shape to your whole upper body. Not to mention it forces you to engage your core.
To execute, Use an overhand closed grip on the bar. Your grip width should be slightly wider than your shoulders to help ensure your elbows don’t bend more than 90 degrees as you lower the bar. Your head, shoulders and butt/low back should remain in contact with the bench throughout the press. Both feet should stay flat on the ground. Common thought is that the bar should be lowered until the elbows are bent to 90 degrees… HOWEVER this may vary based on the length of your arms (shorter arms mean you can lower the bar to you chest, while longer arms may not be able to go that far).
Note: This is one of my favorite exercises. Building up your chest muscles can give the illusion that you have bigger boobs. I need all the help I can get.
Standing Calf Raises
While the picture above contains a machine, you don’t need any special equipment to do calf raises. They can be performed on the edge of a stair or a board. To make it harder, hold weights in each hand.
Stand tall with your abs pulled in, the balls of your feet firmly planted on the step, and your heels hanging over the edge. Grip machine handles, or rest your hands against a wall or a sturdy object for balance. Raise your heels a few inches above the edge of the step so that you’re on your tiptoes. Push evenly through the entire width of your foot; pushing off from your big toe or the outside edge of your feet is more likely to result in cramping or muscle strains. Hold the position for 2 seconds before lowering your heels below the platform, feeling a stretch in your calf muscles.
Note: Lift as high as you can onto your toes and lower your heels down as much as your ankle flexibility allows. This is a great rehabilitative exercise for Achilles tendon injuries (ahem… runners), and for improving explosive movements like jumping or fast starts. For those of you that wear heels, this will give you calves to-die-for in your party dress.
Caution: It is easy to “over train” with these modifications. They challenge your muscles to work much harder than usual, so these moves are not recommended as a long-term regimen. Avoid doing more than 2-3 of these per muscle group on any given workout.
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Did anyone try Super 8’s? What did you think?
Have you ever done 1 1/2s? What exercises do you apply them to?