Five Exercises to Supplement Your Weightlifting Routine
Not seeing the results that you want after days of working hard in the gym? Join the club. A common problem and common mistake encountered by lifters is reaching a plateau and then doing nothing to address the cause of the plateau.
Doing the same routine over and over will work for a few weeks, but, once the body adjusts, you’re dead in the water, sweating and toiling for little more than a misguided sense that you’re staying in shape.
While you may stay in shape, you will cease to see any gains. You’ll be like Dane Cook: he just keeps on doing the same thing, and it worked for a few months but now it’s just like… well, is he even trying anymore? That pretty much sums up what I’m trying to say: shake up your routine or be relegated to the bin of clichés.
That being said, here are five often-ignored exercises that can help push you through your plateau. Be sure to check out the supplement suggestions below to help you in your fitness journey.
Deadlifts build the foundation of any powerlifter’s routine, and yet I rarely see anyone in the gym doing a deadlift. There’s a common misconception (see: fear) that deadlifts are a recipe for disaster. And yes, people routinely injure themselves doing deadlifts, but do you know why? Because they use incorrect form and try to lift too much weight.
Respect the iron and the iron will respect you. Don’t be arrogant and don’t worry what anyone else thinks: lift what you can while maintaining correct form. Mark Rippetoe, a former powerlifting champion turned trainer, goes over the basics.
The deadlift is great for enhancing overall strength, particularly improving your back, forearms, and core.
4. Decline Skull Crushers
Considered an accessory lift to improve triceps strength, the flat-bench skull crusher is a staple in many lifters’ routines. However, it is very easy to transfer the brunt of the lift from the triceps to the back/chest while using a flat bench.
This has something to do with physics so yeah… don’t quote me on why this overpowering occurs. Suffice to say, my degree in bro-science tells me that using the decline bench for skull crushers helps you focus more on your triceps.
Use the same form for the decline as you would for the flat bench (keep your elbows tight and stationary, focusing all your power in your triceps).
3. Ass-to-Grass (ATG) Squats
Rule #1 of Weightlifting Club: Do not skip leg day.
Rule #2 of Weightlifting Club: DO NOT SKIP LEG DAY.
Please, squat. And even more please, squat ass-to-grass. This exercise requires substantial flexibility, and you may have to work on that first before implementing this lift. However, a brief investigation of any Olympic lifter’s routine will reveal the presence of ass-to-grass squats. The reason? Olympic lifts require substantial quad strength, hip drive, and core strength, all three of which can be improved upon with the ATG squat.
For a form check, see the video.
2. Clean and Jerk
I mentioned Olympic lifts in the last section, so here you go: the clean and jerk. When it comes to exercises, it is hard to find one as full-body determined as the clean and jerk. It works every part of your body—the true test of physical fitness. As you can see in the image, you start with a power clean which leads into a jerk. If you want to build explosive power and a core made of bricks, this is the exercise for you.
As always, check your form.
1. Klukov Press
So, I may receive some flak for suggesting the Klukov press, but in my opinion it is one of the best shoulder exercises you can perform. The resulting burn in my rear deltoids is something I had never experienced before finding this exercise. Because this exercise requires advanced shoulder flexibility, it is best to start with substantial warm-up sets and leave your ego at the door.
More than likely, you will press substantially less with this exercise than with the standing barbell front press. That being said, you will see impressive results. Want some proof? Take a look at Dmitry Klukov performing the exercise in the accompanying video.
As for which days to include these lifts, I perform deadlifts on back/biceps days, decline skull crushers on chest/triceps days, ATG squats on leg day, the clean and jerk once a week on varying days, and the klukov press on shoulder days. If you do a push/pull routine, I trust that you can figure out which of these are push and which are pull exercises.
However, before diving into any workout routine, you should always take care of your pre- and post-workout nutrition. Here are some great supplement ideas: Whey protein, beta-alanine, l-arginine, phosphatidic acid, and DMAE bitartrate. These all offer a great variety of benefits from building lean muscle to reducing soreness. Be sure to check them out!