WEIRD MOVES

There’s an end­less ar­ray of odd work­out ad­vice out there – but what ac­tu­ally works when you need re­sults? Please en­joy this as­sem­blage of the best moves you’ve never done…

Shortlist - - THIS WEEK - WORDS: JOEL SNAPE

The ex­er­cise moves you're not do­ing, but re­ally, re­ally should.

Some­times, ba­sics are best. Cheese on toast, a nice solid 4-4-2 for­ma­tion, say­ing ‘There he is’ when your friend walks into a restau­rant: they’re clas­sics for a rea­son, and shouldn’t be ne­glected. And, yes, the same goes for your work­outs…usu­ally. Be­cause, while the ba­sics of get­ting in bet­ter shape are well-es­tab­lished – press-ups, squats, sim­ple bar­bell moves and a bit of run­ning will never go out of fash­ion – there are times, oc­ca­sion­ally, when you have to add a bit of piz­zazz, at­tack­ing a limb from a dif­fer­ent an­gle or ad­dress­ing an im­bal­ance with an un­usual so­lu­tion. For those times, then, we’ve as­sem­bled a list of the finest off-kil­ter moves that ac­tu­ally get it done – the ones that might raise an eye­brow in the gym, but will also en­sure you’re get­ting re­sults. Oh, and when you’re re­fu­el­ing, it’s fine to chuck a cou­ple of pep­pers on your cheese on toast. Some­times, you can im­prove on the old clas­sics.

FOR A BIG­GER CHEST… THE GYM BALL SQUEEZE

Chest work­outs are easy, no? Just whack a load of weight on the bench (bro), then crank out a load of reps once or twice a week un­til you’re blessed with a set of pecs that you can make dance through a dress shirt, a la Terry Crews. Ex­cept! The prob­lem with this is that the pecs are mostly there to ‘adduct’ the arm (ie bring it to­wards your body, like in a tennis fore­hand), so by ig­nor­ing that move­ment you’re leav­ing gains on the ta­ble – or pos­si­bly tak­ing them com­pletely off the agenda. This move fixes it: it’s noth­ing but ad­duc­tion, and also in­cludes a solid wal­lop of the time-un­der-ten­sion modern body comp spe­cial­ists in­sist is nec­es­sary for real growth. Best of all, you can do it at home, on hol­i­day, or in the back of a bor­ing yoga class – ba­si­cally, any­where you won’t feel too em­bar­rassed about squeez­ing the liv­ing heck out of a giant in­flat­able ball.

How to do it: Get an in­flat­able gym ball that’s big enough for your fore­arms to be at least

ADD A BIT OF PIZ­ZAZZ, AT­TACK­ING A LIMB FROM A DIF­FER­ENT AN­GLE

IT’S ALL TOO EASY TO BUILD A BEEFY SET OF PINS WITH­OUT EVER WORK­ING HAM­STRINGS

shoul­der-width apart when you grab it be­tween your fore­arms. Now, with your up­per arms par­al­lel to the ground, squeeze as hard as you can – you should feel your pec­toral mus­cles en­gage, and stay switched on while you hold on for 20 sec­onds. Re­peat 3-5 times with at least 60 sec­onds of rest be­tween reps. Do this any­where from twice to five times a week, up­ping the time of each set by ten sec­onds each time. By the time you’re squeez­ing for a full minute, you’ll be giv­ing old TC a run for his money.

FOR HEALTH­IER KNEES… LY­ING HAM­STRING SLID­ERS

Pity your poor ham­strings. Squats, done cor­rectly, ham­mer your quads and glutes (es­pe­cially if you’ve ac­ti­vated them as above), but it’s all too easy to build a rel­a­tively beefy set of pins with­out ever work­ing your ham­strings. This im­bal­ance can leave your knee lig­a­ments un­der strain and – over the long term – can lead to a twang or a crunch that leaves you out of ac­tion for months. What you need, es­pe­cially if you aren’t go­ing to the gym reg­u­larly, is a way to work your ham­strings in iso­la­tion with zero kit.

How to do them: First, you’ll need a set of slid­ers – be­spoke ‘fit­ness’ slide discs are an op­tion, but a hand­towel on a smooth floor works just as well. Lie on your back with your heels on what­ever you’ve cho­sen and your hips off the ground, then slowly al­low your feet to glide away from you – be­fore en­gag­ing your ham­strings to pull them back in. Yes, it’s tough – start with three sets of four reps, twice a week – and work up.

FOR YOUR CORE… FOAM ROLLER PRESS-UPS

Most peo­ple, let’s be hon­est, do press-ups wrong. Google ‘World Record Press-Up At­tempt,’ and try to find a video that isn’t a dude in a ban­dana flop­ping around like a beached fish try­ing to do the worm – ex­cept that you won’t, be­cause that video

doesn’t ex­ist. Even in your reg­u­lar gym, al­most ev­ery­one half-asses this most hum­ble of gym moves – pik­ing their hips up in the air, let­ting them sag, or just giv­ing up on their dig­nity en­tirely and do­ing half-reps. It’s a shame, be­cause done cor­rectly, the press-up works your core as hard as your chest and arms, mak­ing it a bang-for-your-buck ab-blaster you can do ba­si­cally any­where. If only there was a way to keep your­self hon­est with a bit of kit that’s avail­able al­most any­whe… waaait a minute.

How to do it: Start with the en­try-level ver­sion. Grab a foam roller – the hol­lowed-out-cylin­der kind works best – and as­sume the press-up po­si­tion with your toes on top of it, keep­ing your core braced to stop your­self from col­laps­ing into a heap. From there, do proper press-ups – arms straight at the top, chest to the floor at the bot­tom, spine straight through­out. The ad­vanced ver­sion? Hands on the roller make it much, much tougher.

FOR YOUR SHOUL­DERS… THE JAVELIN PRESS

Shoul­ders are in­fu­ri­at­ing. On the one hand, they de­mand a de­cent amount of in­vest­ment be­fore they start to grow – but on the other, they’re flighty beasts, vul­ner­a­ble in ev­ery di­rec­tion… and if you give your­self a re­ally spicy ro­ta­tor cuff in­jury there’s a good chance you’ll never be the same again. That’s why your shoul­der train­ing should em­pha­sise moves that safe­guard the ooold shirt-fillers while also chal­leng­ing them as they’re meant to be used. This move, in which you heft a bar­bell over­head as if you’re about to throw it like a javelin, does all of the above, while re­duc­ing strain on your joints with a ‘neu­tral’ grip (your palm faces your body) and ac­ti­vat­ing your ner­vous sys­tem to sta­bilise the wob­bling bar. You’ll also ben­e­fit from the need to sta­bilise your core and hips, mak­ing you bet­ter at a plethora of other moves.

Don’t use it as a strength-builder, but slip it into your warmup to get your­self ready for some heavy shoul­der press­ing.

How to do it: It’s eas­i­est if you take the bar­bell out of a rack. Stand side on, brace your glutes and abs to pro­vide a bet­ter ‘plat­form’ for press­ing, and drive the bar over­head while grip­ping it hard to stop it he­li­copter­ing around and con­cussing other gym­go­ers. Aim for 2-4 reps on each side with an empty bar, and... you know what? Try this one in an al­most-empty gym first.

FOR MORE EF­FI­CIENT RUN­NING... THE FIRE HY­DRANT

Slip­ping out of the of­fice for a swift 5K is all very well, but if you spend the rest of your day slumped in a chair – or a sofa – it’s a fair bet that you’re suf­fer­ing from a se­ri­ous case of what’s known as gluteal am­ne­sia. To self-di­ag­nose, get out of your chair and turn around to face the seat: can you sit down, hip-crease be­low knee level, with­out your knees touch­ing the chair? If not, your glute mus­cles have ‘for­got­ten’ how to fire, and re­mind­ing them to get in on the ac­tion’s the fastest way to im­prove every­thing from your sprint­ing to your layups. The good news? The fix only takes a cou­ple of weeks, and is su­per low ef­fort. The bad? You are go­ing to look like one of Nicki Mi­naj’s back­ing dancers for a while.

How to do it: Get on your hands and knees, then bring one knee out di­rectly to your side - yes, like a car­toon dog hav­ing at a fire hy­drant. Re­peat the move slowly 3-5 times on each side - you should feel your glutes ‘switch’ on, but if not, straighten your leg and aim to touch your heel to the floor on each rep while your toes point up­ward. It’ll be worth the in­dig­nity when you slash your PB by half a minute, hon­estly.

FOR STRONGER POS­TURE... THE CHI­NESE PLANK

You are, of course, aware of the plank, the el­bows-on-the-floor ab move that helps pro­mote spinal stiff­ness and core sta­bil­ity, while si­mul­ta­ne­ously re­ally, re­ally mak­ing you want to stop do­ing it. But its coun­ter­part, the so-called

‘Chi­nese’ plank does the same for your back – forc­ing you to keep your pos­te­rior chain (that’s all the mus­cles down the back of your body) in ac­tion and pro­mot­ing bet­ter pos­ture in most moves. Once you’ve got used to hold­ing it, up­grade to do­ing moves like the dumbbell bench press in the same move­ment - you’ll look in­sane, but feel the ben­e­fits im­me­di­ately.

How to do it: You’re go­ing to need to hog a cou­ple of benches for this one. Set them up par­al­lel to each other, then lie down with your shoul­derblades on one and heels on the other, keep­ing your back braced to stay straight. Aim to hold it for 30-60 sec­onds, ei­ther as a fin­isher to your reg­u­lar work­out or to make up for a day of shame­ful in­do­lence. You know when you need it.

YOU’RE GO­ING TO LOOK LIKE ONE OF NICKI MI­NAJ’S BACK­ING DANCERS

LY­ING HAM­STRING SLID­ERS

THE GYM BALL SQUEEZE

FOAM ROLLER PRESS-UPS

THE FIRE HY­DRANT

THE CHI­NESE PLANK

THE JAVELIN PRESS

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