Bodybuilding trainer Eugene Teo regularly shares advice on how to safely build strength and muscle while avoiding injury, and in a recent video on his channel he breaks down what he feels are some of the most “underrated” exercises you should try to incorporate into your next workout. These include exercises that people don’t prioritize or simply don’t do at all, as well as a few different variations on the most common movements.
Lower grip bench press
“Aside from feeling weird at first with the hands and wrists, the real reason we did this was to create a narrower elbow path,” Teo explains. “Anatomically, this may be a better positioning of your chest muscles to get better leverage on your arm… What this means is that your chest muscles can stretch better and work more effectively.”
High cable row
Teo recommends this exercise specifically for the way it lines up your back muscles compared to the traditional cable row. “Most people think of vertical or horizontal pulls, but I think diagonal pulls are an understatement,” he says.
Often used as an activation or rehabilitation exercise, this targets the adductors, which are often an overlooked muscle group in lower-body exercises, but which play an important supporting role in movements such as the deadlift. Teo likes this variation of the plank because it can be done as either a static or dynamic exercise.
Click on the leg
“While most people probably do leg presses, I think they get pushed aside a lot for free weight exercises like squats,” says Teo. “Leg presses are one of the most valuable ways to gain a lot of lower body strength and push your legs to completely different limits than you can achieve with squats.”
Pulldowns are a fairly common exercise, but it’s the rope element here that Teo believes is a real game-changer. “It allows you to customize your grip and find more comfortable positions than a stable bar would provide,” he says, “and it allows you to create this outward force as you pull down… That can help coordinate your arm and upper back muscles to work together.”
Again, squats are probably part of your leg day routine, but they’re used more frequently as an additional exercise than as one of those “meat and potatoes” moves. But as Teo points out, there are unique benefits to squats, such as how they challenge hip rotation, forcing you to train for stability and mobility as well as strength.
“A hyperextension is literally just a deadlift with stiff legs rotated forward 45 degrees or so,” says Teo. “That means it can be rated with the same priority that you might give to deadlift, and really touches on the later chain.”
Pronation Y raise
“One additional challenge here is not to do it on an incline or just standing upright, but lying flat or as close to flat as possible. This will challenge the upper back and shoulder muscles in their completely short position, which are known to be very weak and untrained.” says Teo, who recommends using lighter weights for this one.
Sure, this is a basic bodyweight exercise, but Teo included it on this list because he believes it has one unique benefit over other moves: It gives you more freedom in the shoulders to work the front of the shoulder, which is important for shoulder function and mobility.
“This is a very simple and accessible way to get some loaded stretches for the shoulders and back muscles into your workouts,” says Teo. “You can work with different amounts of assist or progression, and even add weight. You can use it to train grip strength or flexibility with the straps, and this is simply one of my favorite ways to start and finish a workout. To make me feel good and comfortable.”
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