Most Neglected Exercises - Essential Exercises You Should Not Avoid

Neglected Exercises

Don't be afraid of trying new exercise to stimulate new growth

When was the last time you did 6 quick sets of tibialis raises? About the same time as you did those forced-rep thenar curls, perhaps. What am I getting at? Simply that there may be more untrained muscles on your body crying out for a few sets and reps than you could ever imagine.

Hand and foot training. Tibialis raises and thenar curls. Hundreds of bodybuilding exercises are almost never performed. What follows is not a compendium of the obscure. You will not read of hanging one-arm infraspinatus pulls or negative forced-rep orbicularisoris lifts. In fact, quite the opposite.

This is an annotated list of those exercises that should be a part of almost everyone's routine but probably aren't. Most of them are basic. What they have in common is (1) they've fallen out of favor in the past couple of decades, pushed aside by chrome machines and "easier" isolating movements, and (2) they work, often inducing growth to a greater extent than other exercises for the same bodyparts.

Number 10 - The Good Morning

A silly name diminishes the potential popularity of this serious movement, as does its reputation for overstraining the lower back. Let neither deter you. Performed correctly, the good morning can isolate and grow your spinal erectors and stretch and tone your hamstrings.

Stand with a light barbell resting behind your neck. Keeping your knees straight, bow forward (the reason for the cute name) until your torso is parallel to the foot Return to an upright position and repeat. Keep the repetitions in the moderate to high range (10-25). This movement may be somewhat awkward at first. Add more weight when you become comfortable.

Number 9 - The Reverse Curl

Because of its popularity among a select group of trainers, this lift is threatening to drop off our list. But many of you aren't doing this exercise at all, and that's a shame because reverse curls are a great way of beefing up the forearms (especially the brachioradialis) and tying them into the upper arms.

Reverse curls and their close cousin, hammer curls (another neglected exercise), are the only way of directly stressing the brachialis, which lies under the biceps and is visible on the outside of the upper arm. In a rear double-biceps pose a properly developed brachialis stands out like a golf ball and separates the biceps from the triceps. Reverse curls (curls with a palms-down grip) can be done with machines, cables, dumbbells or a barbell. Moderate repetitions (8-12) are recommended as part of your biceps or forearm routine.

Number 8 - The Sissy Squat

And you thought the good morning had a lame name! What could be worse than this? The limp-wrist pansy curl perhaps? Strapped with the worst moniker in bodybuilding, sissy squats have been avoided like the plague. The real sissies, however, are those who won't even try this valuable exercise.

Non sissy squats (as we'll rename them) are done while holding onto an upright bar and leaning backwards into a deep squat while simultaneously letting your knees go far forward over your feet so that your torso is nearly parallel with the floor. Then rise back up. This movement provides a terrific stretch and isolation of the quadriceps. After you've mastered the technique, you can add you resistance by holding a dumbbell or barbell plate across your chest with your free hand Keep reps in the high range (12-25). Non- sissy squats are especially effective for etching in those final leg details before a contest.

Number 7 - The Side Bend

Wield your crucifixes and garlic, my frightened brothers and sisters. Training the obliques with weights has been preached against for decades because of its potentially evil effect of widening the waist. Certainly you don't want to overbulk your obliques, but an irrational fear of any significant side abdominal muscle has led many to neglect this impressive area.

Cast aside silly superstitions and stop ignoring your obliques. Side bends are still the best way to directly stress the edges of your waist. Side bends can be done with dumbbells in hand for moderate repetitions or without for higher reps. This exercise is particularly effective if supersetted with broomstick twists (a stretching movement).

Number 6 - Dips and Chins

I'm cheating here by puffing exercises for two completely different bodyparts in one category, but dips and chins are similar in that they utilize one's bodyweight for resistance, they build large basic muscles (dips beef up the lower pectorals; chins widen the latissimus dorsi), they're very effective, and too many trainers neglect them. Dips and chins are often passed by in favor of presses and pulldowns. Don't make this mistake. Great torsos throughout history, including those belonging to Steve Reeves, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu and Bertil Fox, have been carved with countless sets of these body- weight basics. If they're just too difficult to perform correctly for 6 reps or more, have a training partner help you. Dips and chins should be mainstays of most intermediate routines, and everyone can benefit from at least occasional dipping and chinning.

Number 5 - Practical Aerobics

By this I mean non gym recreation: jogging, swimming, basketball, tennis, handball... whatever your choice may be. Stress your heart, lungs and muscles in compound, practical aerobic-style activities. Use the strength and endurance you gain in the gym outside the gym walls.

Too many bodybuilders shy away from such activities for fear of injuries or of depleting their weight-training energy. In fact, it's to your benefit (including your bodybuilding benefit) that you stress your muscles in compound full-body movements to develop coordination and synergy and better insulate yourself from injuries in the long run. Besides, outside aerobics can be refreshing. Compared to sometimes boring stints on a gym treadmill or exercise bike, a jog, a swim or some touch football turns exercise into a game and can instantly replenish fleeting enthusiasm. After all, working out is supposed to be fun, and all these muscles should have practical uses.

Number 4 - The Front Squat

Similar to the non sissy squat in that it directly stresses the quadriceps, the front squat has a perfectly fine name. Its problem is it hurts. It doesn't necessarily cause more pain to your thighs than a regular squat, but, because the weight is held in front of your neck on your front delts and upper chest where there's not a lot of padding, a barbell can really dig into a tender area.

The solution is to wrap the bar with a pad or towel and start with light weights until you build up tolerance. (This same advice applies to regular squats, which many people find painful at first.) Hold the bar with your arms crossed, elbows high. Balance may be difficult, but this is good because the difficulty in bending your knees while holding a barbell across your clavicle is the secret to why front squats work.

They're hard. They hurt. And they grow thighs. Keep reps in the moderate range.

Number 3 - The Clean

This basic power movement (part of the Olympic lift, the clean and jerk) is a terrific exercise. It stresses the traps, the lower back, the upper back, the thighs and the glutes. Even smaller muscles like the calves, biceps and forearms may ache the day after you do cleans. So why do so few bodybuilders do them? Because so few have even tried them, and even fewer know how to perform them correctly. Once you learn and feel the muscle-building burn, chances are you'll gladly slip cleans into your back routine, at least occasionally.

Set a barbell on the floor. Standing with your feet shoulder width apart and your buff low, grasp the bar in an overhand grip. Explode up as if doing a deadlift combined with an upright row. Bring the bar as high as you can, even rising onto your toes at the top position.

Then throw your elbows out to catch the barbell on your front deltoids while simultaneously squatting. Now rise to a standing position. That's a clean. Drop the bar and repeat.

Form is crucial, and novices should consult with an experienced cleaner (not the gym janitor) to ensure performing this complex move to its optimum. Once you do, you'll be able to stress the traps, lower back and biceps in ways they've never been stressed before, adding a powerful new dimension to your physique. Reps should be low to moderate.

Number 2 - The Lunge

Championed by Shawn Ray, the lunge has made a comeback in recent years, but news of its effectiveness has not trickled down to many hardcore gyms where lunges are still dismissed as lightweight, girlie moves. Balance 275 on your back and lunge forward till your knee hits the floor for a set of 12, and you'll know lunges aren't just for firming up the back end.

Front lunges build quadriceps and gluteal muscle, and they separate the difficult-to-isolate muscles in the upper thigh region. Lunging up, as onto a bench, will further isolate your butt, if desired. Keep the repetitions in the moderate range. Occasional high-rep sets will etch in the final details of the quads and glutes.

Number 1 - The Deadlift

One of the three powerlifting movements (with the squat and bench press), the deadlift may be unpopular among bodybuilders because loading a heavy baron the floor can be a chore.

The main reason for its neglect, however, is the pain fact that it stresses several large bodyparts very intensely. It hurts and it works. This is precisely why you should not neglect the deadlift. Mr Olympians of the past from Schwarzenegger and Columbu to Zane and Haney found reason to include deads in their back routines from time to time.

Deadlifts hit the lower back and traps directly, and they stress the glutes, thighs and upper back as well. Load a bar on the floor and pick it up. Training doesn't get any more basic than this. Keep your butt down at the beginning and keep your head up and the bar against your body throughout. Pull with your legs more than your back. Use a belt and, if necessary, chalk and wrist straps. The repetitions should be in the low to moderate range (6-10), perhaps with occasional very heavy; low-rep sets to boost strength.

So there we have them - the top ten most neglected exercises. Is it just a coincidence that three of our most-avoided lifts (#2, #4 #8) stress the quads and another four (#1, #3, #5, #10) hit the thighs to some degree? Of course not. Many intermediate-level bodybuilders under train legs, and even more fail to stress bigger bodyparts like the back and quads from all angles with a suitably varied attack.

Whatever your level of training, do not neglect these exercises. Try all of them at least twice. Work most of them into your routine, if only for occasional variety. Let's bock these valuable movements off this dubious achievement list forever Considering their effectiveness, if enough people give them an honest chance, today's most neglected may very well be tomorrow's most popular.

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