Exercises have a specific purpose, but making slight tweaks can engage new muscle groups that you’ve never used before. Try these quick variations with your training favorites and you won’t be doing three sets of the same ol’ thing.
Variation one: Curl-grip deadlift
Advice: Use lighter weight than traditional deadlift movements, keep shoulders back and grip bar with both hands supinated (similar to a curl).
Purpose: This will strengthen the external shoulder rotators and reinforce good posture.
Variation two: Snatch-grip deadlift
Advice: Grip bar as wide as possible with traditional overhand grip, and position your hips in a deeper seated position than your standard deadlift stance.
Purpose: This style increases the workload placed on quads and glutes by assuming a deeper position.
Variation three: Sumo deadlift
Advice: Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, grip bar between knees with one hand gripping the bar supinated and the other gripping it traditional overhand. (Additional note: If performing four sets, alternate the grip style between sets to prevent injury or blowout.)
Purpose: The wider stance will place more emphasis on glutes and inner thighs. The alternating grips combined with a wider stance will assist with heavier lifts.
Variation one: Wide-grip pullup
Advice: Grab the bar extra wide with a traditional overhand grip.
Purpose: A great movement for overall development. Most of the workload will be placed on the lat muscles and teres major, a smaller back muscle above the lats. The rear deltoid will also be slightly engaged in this movement.
Variation two: Close-grip pullup
Advice: Grab the bar inside of shoulder-width with traditional overhand grip.
Purpose: More emphasis will be placed on the lat muscles with less recruitment of the teres major and deltoids.
Variation three: Supinated close-grip pullup
Advice: Grab the bar inside of shoulder-width with both hands in a supinated (chinup) position.
Purpose: This style will place heavy emphasis on lat muscles, less on the deltoids, and actively recruit the biceps and forearms.
Variation one: Extra-wide pushup
Advice: Position yourself on the floor with hands about two shoulder-widths apart.
Purpose: This variation will place more emphasis on the chest alone, and take workload off the triceps.
Variation two: Elbows tucked, close pushups
Advice: Place hands inside shoulder-width, and tuck elbows into your sides.
Purpose: This variation will more actively engage the tricep muscles in addition to the chest.
Variation three: Decline pushups
Advice: Place feet on a bench and get into traditional pushup position, with hands shoulder-width apart. Be sure to keep your back straight, not arched or sagging.
Purpose: This variation will place more of a workload on the upper chest and shoulders.