4 IG Exercises That Don't Suck

TAGS: incline hammer strength press machine, Banded Romanian Deadlifts, Banded Pullovers, overhead triceps extensions, chain flyes, rdl, instagram, Mark Dugdale, john meadows, Skip Hill, exercises, bands, bodybuilding

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Instagram is notorious for stupid exercises. On any given day you can expect to find someone desperate for attention who has decided to make up a new exercise or some stupid variation of an existing one. Now, I am all for thinking outside of the box. However, there is thinking outside of the box, and then there’s… well… stupid.

Social media allows anyone to be an expert or to go from being unknown to being considered a genius if they can just think of SOMETHING that hasn’t been done before. And no one does that better than the younger generation who is absolutely convinced that the older generation somehow hasn’t thought of the brilliant idea they just came up with. Though these attempts sometimes end up as viral videos for the rest of us to poke fun of, most times the majority of us give a quick eye roll and continue to scroll.


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I have been training for 35 years and just about the time I feel I have seen it all, I am impressed when I see something that I genuinely think, “Damn, that’s a good idea that I would have never thought of.” I am going to share four exercises that I feel are legit and for that reason, I am going to add them to my own training. I wanted to come up with five because who writes an article and uses four instead of three or five? Bitch is, I couldn’t for the life of me find another legit exercise. Yes, that’s how bad InstaTrainers are.

1. Banded Pullovers

For the record, I am not a band guy. I have written about this in the past, and I feel (and have hoped) that bands are just a fad or phase that bodybuilding is going through right now. They most certainly have a place in powerlifting because they can add more of a load to the weaker portion of a movement. For bodybuilding purposes, I had not come across any benefit that I thought would add to a bodybuilding exercise that required bands… until now.

John Meadows gets credit for improving the dumbbell pullover by using a band that is fixed to a piece of equipment (that is also fixed to the floor so that it doesn’t move) and to the dumbbell.

While the dumbbells add most of the resistance in the stretched position, the band adds even more resistance from the stretched position to the finished position. This also means that even in the top resting position, the muscles aren’t allowed to fully relax but will stay in a “working” or contracted position.

However, there is one more benefit, and that is the band forces you to “push” the dumbbell further over your head into the stretched position, so it isn’t as easy to allow the elbows to bend and the dumbbell to go behind the head, involving more of the triceps in the stretched position. This will limit the weight of the dumbbell being used (you can’t go as heavy) but increases the workload on the muscles that are being targeted. Quite frankly, this is brilliant.

2. Banded Romanian Deadlifts

This one can be tricky as far as balance is concerned because if you use too much resistance with the band, the band will want to pull you backward. You don’t need much resistance, as this exercise doesn’t directly benefit from the bands in that it isn’t going to provide more resistance to the muscles that are being directly targeted.

However, this concept is solid because what it does do is the band forces you to engage the glutes, keeping them contracted the entire time while performing the exercise. If you can keep your glutes contracted during these movements without using a band, great — some people can. However, some people can’t, so the band forces you to contract the glutes against the band. If you have a bad lower back, this is crucial. If you don’t, it will help to keep your back healthy by forcing a solid base while doing these exercises in a bent-over position.

I don’t classify this method as brilliant, but it obviously makes sense and is something I would not have thought of on my own.


LISTEN: Table Talk Podcast #14 with John Meadows


3. Chain Flyes

I admit that I found this one quite brilliant, as well.

I am not a band guy, and I am not a chain guy. I guess I just don’t like to complicate something as relatively simple as lifting weights. Guys were getting HYUGE long before chains and bands, so I find them to be quite novel, again, in reference to bodybuilding. Chains have a purpose in powerlifting because, much like bands, they increase in weight as the chains come off of the floor.

Chains hooked to handles while doing a chest flye will make the stretched position lighter and the contracted position heavier. As the hands come together and the pecs contract, the weight increases. This is brilliant enough as it is, but there is one more benefit: stabilizer muscles get more work because each rep is not exactly the same as the rep before. The reps can’t be the same because the chain will rest on the floor differently for each rep. This not only works the pecs differently, but it also works the stabilizer muscles much more than a regular cable flye movement that remains in the same plane for every rep.

Mark Dugdale gets credit for this movement. If it has been done prior to Mark doing it, I have never seen it. So, if you conceived the concept before Mark, feel free to bash me in the comment section following this article.

4. One-Arm Overhead Triceps Extensions Using an Incline Hammer Strength Press Machine

Though I was impressed with this movement, it doesn’t rank as “brilliant” because it doesn’t add much to the typical overhead dumbbell movement other than being in a fixed plane. Still, I mention it because someone was smart enough to conceive the idea, and it is one that I would not have thought of.

You simply face away from the machine, and while standing, you use the left swingarm of the machine to train the left arm, and then do the same reps on the right swingarm for the right arm. The angle or path that the swingarm travels makes it important that you train the left triceps with the left swingarm and vice versa. I was surprised it was so smooth and so biomechanically correct because the machine wasn’t made for this movement (obviously).

I have seen a few other exercises performed on Instagram that may have seemed like a good idea and appeared to be biomechanically correct, but when applied, it was obvious they weren’t at all. My point is that even if something appears to be a great idea, you won’t really know until you try it and see how it feels. I think you will find the four exercises above to be beneficial, and they can add variety to your current workout plan.

I always appreciate when someone can think outside of the box and come up with an idea that is actually worthwhile. In a sea of IG users trying to impress everyone with their latest training innovations, I have only found four to be worthy of mentioning. This means there’s a lot of bullshit floating around out there in Internet-land. Proceed with caution. Just Sayin’.

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