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The Body Shocker Workout

The equipment in your gym has more uses than you realize. Learn how to “misuse” it for better gains.
technique for muscle growth
James Michelfelder & Therese Sommerseth

Thomas Jefferson said, “It’s a poor mind that can think of only one way to spell a word.” Had our founding father known his way around a gym, he’d surely have found the same to be true of how we use a piece of exercise equipment. Just because a tool is designed for one purpose doesn’t mean it can’t serve others. Here’s how to get more out of common training equipment to hit your muscles in new ways, work around injuries, and cut minutes off your workouts.

Most gyms have a trap bar—the thing that looks like a barbell with a large hexagon in the middle (shown, right)—and all have an adjustable bench, lat-pulldown station, and straight bar. The trap bar is mainly used for trap-bar deadlifts, a joint-friendlier squat and deadlift substitute; but you can also use it to do bentover rows and shrugs with a palms-in grip—a stronger pulling position than palms down. A bench can support your chest for rows just as well as it can support your back for presses. And a lat-pulldown station can easily give you the toughest glute and hamstring workout around. Finally, you know how to use a barbell with both hands, but lifting it with just one hand attacks your muscles—and your core—in a brand new way. Experiment with the routines that follow, and declare your independence from boring workouts forever.

Perform exercises marked with a letter (“A,” “B,” and sometimes “C”) in sequence. So, you’ll do a set of A, then rest; B, then rest again; and C (if applicable), and rest, then repeat till all sets in the group are complete.

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