TWEAK TO BECOME A FREAK (Part 1) by Eric ‘Merlin’ Broser.
How to alter 5 common upper body exercises in order to hype-up hypertrophy!
I view every machine, pulley, bench, BB and DB as tools with endless possibilities– and every textbook movement as nothing more than a rudimentary outline with infinite potential. And this brings me to the very important subject of this article:
Is it possible to make ordinary exercises become extraordinary? Let’s try…
Movement: CG Bench Press
Tweak: Utilize a Smith Machine, rather than a free bar and hold with hands rotated inward so the elbows flare out.
Execution: Grasp the bar at just inside shoulder width and rotate your hands inward so that the elbows are forced rotate outward. Allow the bar carefully rest in your palms instead of wrapping the fingers around entirely. Lower slowly (and carefully) in line with upper pecs until forearms contact the biceps, then push with pure triceps power to just before lockout on each rep.
Result: The unique positioning of the hands/elbows and resultant plane the bar moves through puts the chest and anterior deltoids in a weaker position for pressing, thus forcing the triceps to take on the brunt of the work. While the entire triceps complex will engage, it is the long/inner head that will be most affected, making this a serious mass builder for the back of the upper arms.
Movement: Standing DB Side Lateral
Tweak: Lean back against an incline bench rather than standing as you normally would.
Execution: Set an incline bench to between 70 and 80 degrees. If possible, have someone hold the back of the bench so it remains solidly in place. Grab a pair of DB’s that are about 20% lighter than those you usually utilize. Stand with your feet just slightly out in front of you and lean back into the bench. Starting with the DB’s at your hips, raise them out to the sides until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Keep a very slight bend in the elbows and your palms facing downward on every rep.
Result: By leaning back into an incline bench you will not only be working through a unique plane of motion, but will remove the possibility of using momentum, forcing maximum medial head recruitment.
Movement: Single Arm DB Preacher Curl
Tweak: Vary hand positioning on the DB on each set.
Execution: After warming up, go full steam on three all out sets of this exercise for each arm. Perform one set with the hand grasping the middle of the DB; a second set grasping right up against the inner plate; and a third set grasping right up against the outer plate.
Result: With each set you will feel a unique strain on the biceps because each hand position will slightly alter the direction of the downward force through the DB, allowing you to stimulate varying sets of motor pools within the biceps.
Movement: One Arm DB Row
Tweak: Lean forward into an incline bench to stabilize the torso and remove all momentum from the exercise.
Execution: Instead of positioning yourself with one knee on a flat bench and one leg behind you, set an incline to about 45 degrees and lay forward onto your chest. When performing the movement with the right arm, for example, place your left pec/shoulder onto the upper right side of the bench (and vice-versa). Row the DB (back toward the hip) with one arm while the other wraps underneath the bench, holding onto it firmly, to keep your torso locked in place.
Result: Not only will this positioning on an incline bench remove all possibility of cheating, but will also help create the ideal plane of motion for the DB to move through for maximum lat stimulation.
Movement: DB Pullover
Tweak: Alter your form and degree of elbow bend to better target the lats or pectorals.
Execution: When looking to target the lats keep the arms only slightly bent, and lower the weight both down and back (away) from the top of the head. Focus on stretching the lats at the bottom, and forcing them to contract forcefully as you return the DB to a position just over the forehead. When pumping up the pecs is the goal at hand, bend the elbows to a greater degree (close to 90 degrees) while lowering the weight straight downward toward the floor. Feel the rib cage stretch as the DB descends and focus on pulling with the pecs as you raise the weight back over your chest. Squeeze before beginning the next repetition.
Result: By slightly altering your technique you can make DB Pullovers an effective part of both your chest and back training programs.