Looking for lifts a bit off the beaten path? Sometimes, a change of pace can have a real benefit to our exercise regimen; the body gets too accustomed to a particular workout and slows growth, the mind grows bored with the same deadlifts and military presses day-in and day-out, and our time in the gym thus becomes less fun, less effective, less worthwhile. So next time you head out, consider these five unique lifts to spice up your regimen, clean up weak spots, and test your all-round fitness.
5 Lifts for Your Strength Regimen
Floor press. Need an alternative to your bench press? Whether you’re looking to spare your shoulders and rotator cuffs, build up your deltoids, or just do something a little bit different for a change of pace, the floor press is one of the greatest upper body lifts you can do. A classic used by far too few modern trainers, the floor press predates the bench press.
The floor press is simple enough to understand, and tricky to master. You lie on your back, on the floor, and press weight up. You’ll need a lift off, and you’ll want to be careful with your elbows.
Suitcase deadlift. A great variation on the classic deadlift, a suitcase deadlift works well for those too weak to work on a classic deadlift and those looking to build up different stabilizers for a better all-round development.
The exercise is simple if you’re already familiar with deadlifts. Instead of bringing a single weight up the front of your body, you want to hold a dumbbell or kettlebell (or a barbell, if you’re looking for a real challenge) to one side, like a suitcase, and complete the motion. Preventing rotation is a crucial part of the exercise—don’t let it get away from you!
Seated good morning. A great way to build up the strength of your back to improve stability and safety for dynamic motions, with benefits for your glutes, hamstrings, and hip extensor flexibility as an added bonus, the seated good morning doesn’t take much weight to have a real impact.
The movement’s dead simple. Position yourself seated, with the barbell mounted as if for a back squat. Then, form a tight back arch, locking yourself steady with tense abs, and bend forward without losing that tension or arch. Then return to upright, still maintaining the arch. Simple!
Bench throw. Another bench press variation, this one’s just plain fun—and a good reason to actually use a Smith Machine, for once! Done correctly, the bench throw will help you develop more explosive power than a traditional bench press.
Position yourself with the bar at your chest, hands placed as if for a bench press. Instead of moving slowly to the top and back down, explode upward, releasing the bar at its peak and catching it as it comes down. Repeat. Even on a Smith machine, you’ll want a spotter for this one—and make sure you set the bumpers right.
Barbell hack squat. Visually similar to a reverse deadlift, the hack squat’s a great way to build quads you can break bricks over (along with all the other benefits inherent to hefting a big load of weight up and down).
It’s a simple enough exercise. You want to stand straight, with the barbell behind you as if you’re finishing up a reverse deadlift, then do squats with proper form. The exercise shifts the burden to your quads more than a typical squat—if you have trouble with the motion, consider elevating your heels with a block.