I love to train. There is a sense of accomplishment that accompanies a ball-busting Mountain Dog workout that is hard to replicate in the business world for me. Anything that helps me destroy muscle and improve this experience in my training becomes a must. I also find that the more I enjoy training, and incorporating unique and different Mountain Dog movements, the more excited and revved up I become, as I look forward to the sessions even more! So what are some machines and gadgets that help increase training intensity, and also make training fun? Here are my top seven.

1.     Bands – I enjoy the use of bands. I thank the powerlifters who really brought these to the forefront in their quest for ultimate strength and now I get to use them in my Mountain Dog bodybuilding-type training. I feel that using bands in certain ways, on certain exercises, with certain rep counts, creates hypertrophy beyond what a “normal” straight set might be able to do. For example, as you perform a leg press, once you get out of the bottom, the weight usually gets easier as you lock it out. This is not the case with bands. The more you lockout the weight, the more additional resistance is applied with the band. As John Meadows would say, “You essentially get movements with no ‘easy’ spot.” As I advanced through the training, the intensity became more and more valuable to me.

2.     Chains – See all the comments above. You have another situation where you can manage the actual intensity throughout the execution of the rep. For example, if you are benching with chains, as you lower the weight, the chains hit the ground and deload. When you drive the weight up (past your normal sticking point), the chains lift and you get increased resistance. You are once again managing the intensity of the rep, therefore ensuring it is high from start to finish.

3.     Safety Squat Bar – This bar is absolutely phenomenal. It allows me to stay upright in posture and really hammers my legs. It is easier on my elbows and shoulders, which can actually get pretty banged up from squatting when I use certain techniques and bar placements. I love leg training just as much as Meadows, so this is right up at the top of my gadget list.

4.     Smith Machine – Oh, I can hear the collective groans now. Most people, who don’t like Smith machines, just have no concept on how to use them. Are they dangerous due to a fixed plane of motion? Can they hurt you? Of course they can, anything can, but NOT if you know what you are doing. You simply have to be aligned correctly in the machine when you do the movement. For example, if you are doing an incline bench press with it, and the bar is traveling down and touching your lower pecs, OF COURSE that is unnatural and will strain the heck out of your delts. But line yourself up correctly, and you’ll feel a searing chest burn that is also safe. The Smith machine allows you to use exceptionally high intensity techniques that you otherwise couldn’t use with free weights. For example, let’s say you want to do a drop set on squats. Tell me how safe this is because I don’t think it’s safe at all. You’ll have some fatigue somewhere that will result in your form going bad, which could potentially injure you. On the Smith machine, you are locked and loaded in the correct plane of motion generally speaking, so you can do a drop set much more safely.

5.     Straps – Yes, good old straps. It amazes me how many people with no back development refuse to use straps. There are plenty of other things you can do to work on your grip, don’t compromise your back work by letting your grip and forearms fatigue first! I can’t imagine training my back without straps. To me, that’s a beginner’s mistake. I also like to use straps that are one solid piece, as opposed to having to wrap a “tail” around the bar over and over and over.

6.     Grip4orce – Speaking of strengthening your grip. These bad boys are awesome. They are like hopped up Fat Gripz. You not only have to deal with the large circumference you are gripping, you actually have to squeeze these HARD throughout the entire set or they won’t stay closed. My forearms were numb for an hour or so last night after using these for my dumbell, barbell, and hammer curls last night. What a cool gadget.

7.     Cambered Bar – This is a cool bar that allows you to use a fuller range of motion on many exercises such as pushups, and rows. You could set the bar in the bottom “steps,” and go to failure. Then, bring the bar up to a higher step and keep going. There is nothing quite like a set of cambered bar pushups for those who want to work an extreme range of motion safely…try it, you’ll see!

Thanks for reading, and good luck with your training!