Workouts

Bust a (Better) Move

Ready to step up your gym routine? Max out your workout? Here are five moves from Gold’s Gym Fitness Institute trainer Robert Reames that can take you from basic to A+ advanced.

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Arms, abs, legs, rear—we’ve got you covered. Gold’s Gym Fitness Institute trainer Robert Reames selected five exercises that can take your workout to a whole new level, thanks to challenging add-ons and tough balance components. “It’s always a good idea to push a little harder—if you’re able,” Reames says. “Now’s the time to maximize your effort. Embrace each opportunity you have at the gym to get even stronger, gain more balance and build up endurance.”

1 Pull-Up Progression

workout 1Basic: Pull-ups with palms facing you. Hang on the pull-up bar with hands shoulder-width apart, palms facing you, elbows straight but not locked. Slowly pull yourself up until your chin passes the bar, then lower to the starting position. Do as many as you can.

Better: Pull-ups with palms facing each other. Same move but have palms facing each other. Do as many as you can.

Even Better: Pull-ups with palms facing away. Same move but have palms facing away from you. Do as many as you can.

From the expert: “Hand position determines muscle activity, and because the biceps are basically shut off when your palms are facing away, this is the toughest way to do pull-ups,” says Reames.

2 Ball Bridge Progression

workout-01-02

Basic: Standard ball bridge. Lie back on a stability ball, with your feet flat on the floor and your body forming a 45-degree angle with the ball. Cross your hands and place them on your upper chest. Contract your abs to lift your torso five to 10 inches off the ball, keeping your feet and neck stable, then slowly lower back down. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

Better: Standard ball bridge with load. Same move as above, but hold a standard weight plate on the pelvic area. The amount of weight should be based on your current ability and what’s appropriate for you. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

Even Better: Unilateral (single leg) ball bridge. Lie back on a stability ball, with your feet flat on the floor and your body forming a 45-degree angle with the ball. Secure both feet first, then take your right foot off the floor. Straighten raised right leg and align the upper thighs with each other. Establish a pelvic tilt to activate the glutes. Alternate legs. Do 3 sets of 10 reps on each side.

From the expert: “When you change to the unilateral move, you’re automatically adding a whole new level of stability and core strength to your workout because you have to push harder to keep yourself centered.”

3 Hanging Knee Lift Progression

Workout 3Basic: Standard hanging knee lifts. Standing on a stability bench, reach up onto a high bar (or place your arms inside hanging arm swings). Step off the bench so that you are at a dead hang; i.e., your body is hanging down in a straight line. Then slowly lift up your legs, bending your knees as you raise them while tucking the hips under until your knees are almost touching your chest. Then slowly lower your legs back down. Make sure your movements are smooth and steady and that you aren’t swinging your knees up and down. Begin by trying to do 10 reps.

Better: Hanging knee lifts with rotation. Standing on a stability bench, reach up onto a high bar (or place your arms inside hanging arm swings). Step off the bench so that you are at a dead hang; i.e., your body is hanging down in a straight line. Then slowly lift up your legs to the right side, bending your knees as you raise them while tucking the hips under until your knees are above your waist. Then slowly lower your legs back down. Repeat on the left side. Make sure your movements are smooth and steady and that you aren’t swinging your knees up and down. Begin by trying to do 1 set of 10 reps on each side.

Even Better: Hanging knee lifts with dumbbells. Try both moves while holding a dumbbell securely between your feet. Begin by trying to do 1 set of 10 reps.

From the expert: “Hanging knee lifts are the best move in the gym to build abs. This progression just keeps adding resistance as you advance. One thing to remember on all three versions: Really make sure to keep lifting your legs until you get that pelvic tilt and feel those lower abs working.”

4 Squat Progression

Workout 4

Basic: Standard basic squat with load. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Slowly lower your bottom as you would to sit down in a chair. Keep your back straight and chin up. Lower as far as you can while keeping your knees parallel with your ankles. Bend knees to no more than 90 degrees to maximize safety. Then slowly stand back up. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

Better: Standard basic squat with load on balance board. Step on the balance board and move your feet hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Slowly lower your bottom like you would to sit down in a chair. Keep your back straight and chin up. Lower as far as you can while keeping your knees parallel with your ankles. Bend knees to no more than 90 degrees to maximize safety. Then slowly stand back up. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

Even Better: Jump squats on plyo box. Start on the floor in front of plyo box, feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees into a squat, then jump up. The moment you’ve landed on the box and stabilized your body, immediately jump right back to the ground where you were standing. Try to do 3 sets of 5–10 reps.

From the expert: “The second progression adds that balance element, requiring more strength and balance on both sides. The jump squats onto the plyo box are an awesome plyometric move that really pushes power, strength and extreme balance; it’s a very advanced exercise.”

5 Calf Progression

Workout 5

Basic: Body-weight heel raises. Stand with your shoulders squared. Slowly rise up onto your toes and pause briefly, then lower down. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

Better: Calf raise machine. Stand on the footplate with your shoulders squared. Slowly rise up onto your toes and pause briefly, then lower your heels until fully extended. To work your calves one at a time, simply cross one leg over the other. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

Even Better: Single leg hops (plyometric). Standing in place, bring your left knee up, then just hop straight up on your right foot. Pretend you’re skipping rope on one leg. Alternate legs and jump with left foot. Do 3 sets of 10 reps on each side.

From the expert: “Getting to the jumps means you’ve developed a strong calf muscle and can now increase your balance and coordination. It’s also a dynamic way to strengthen the ankle joint.”