Have your workouts turned into a routine? The 5 most challenging exercises for men will test your limits and help you set new goals!
If you exude confidence in the gym, chances are you often do deadlifts , bench presses, and squats with decent weight. The exercises are hard, you can’t argue. But this does not mean that they are the most difficult. In fact, exercises that will force you to test your limits look simple on the surface – until you try to perform them according to all the rules.
Men tend to focus on heavy, basic movements that add mass and volume to the chest and arms, but often ignore exercises aimed at developing flexibility, mobility, and balance in any body position. Meanwhile, all these skills are key conditions for good joint mobility and correct performance of those very “male” exercises.
But since the names of these exercises are strongly associated with yoga classes, pilates or dance studio, it is difficult to find guys who do them. Many generally consider them not worthy of attention. But if you continue to bomb the muscles with a heavy “base”, and at the same time cannot work along the entire range of motion, the stiffness of the joints and ligaments will only increase.
The proposed 7 exercises are usually the most difficult for men, and not so much because of the massive load on the muscles, but because of the high requirements for stretching and mobility in the joints. Top personal trainers explain why these movements are so difficult, how to learn how to perform them, and how to get the most muscle-building dividends from them.
1. Flexion for the biceps of the hip on the fitball with one leg
Execution technique. Place the fitball in front of you. Lie on the floor with your arms extended along your torso. Put your heel on the ball, and lift the other leg up (extended or bent at the knee and hip joints). Now lift your buttocks and thighs off the floor. Make sure that the spine remains straight; tighten your abdominal muscles. Press your heel into the ball as you bend your leg and pull it towards your buttocks. Reverse the motion to push the ball away from the buttocks and return to its original position.
What is the difficulty for men. “Most of the time guys don’t work their legs properly, and when they get to their feet, they do heavy bases like deadlifts, squats or leg presses because these exercises both look and feel like a man,” says Alonso Wilson, founder of the sports club. Tone House in New York. “Also, guys rarely isolate one leg or do one-sided exercises that cause the hamstrings to lag.” Unilateral, or unilateral, exercises are very important. In them, the strong side cannot compensate for the lag of the weak, which contributes to the correction of muscle imbalance.
How best to do. The technique of execution is of paramount importance. “Make sure you don’t round your back,” Wilson says. “When there is a deflection in the back, or if you fall through the hips, you remove most of the load from the hamstrings, and this is the muscle that this exercise is aimed at!”
2. Classic squats with a barbell
Execution technique. Load the barbell with a weight that is 85-100% of your body weight. Fix the projectile on the trapezius muscles, bring the shoulder blades together. As you inhale, tense your abdominal muscles and squat down to parallel. Return to the starting position, pushing off the heels and big toes. Exhale at the top.
What is the difficulty for men? The average guy faces two challenges, says Adam Rosante, coach and author of The Body in 30 Seconds. “Firstly, most guys do not regularly train their lower body with free weights. As a result, when they try to squat with a loaded barbell, their legs begin to beg for mercy, and their hearts jump out of their chest. Keeping balance in such a situation is extremely problematic. The second problem is the lack of flexibility and stretching in the hips and ankles. Most of the guys I see in the gym don’t take the time to work on flexibility and stretching at all. ”
How best to do. It’s time to incorporate stretching exercises into your workout routine. “Take 10 minutes to work on flexibility and mobility in the hips, glutes, quads and ankles before starting your workout” . Do at least five stretching exercises before heavy squats. If you can’t even do bodyweight squats technically, don’t try to squat with a barbell on your shoulders.
“In this situation, it makes sense to start with 4 sets of 12 bodyweight squats. Work this pattern for 2-3 weeks, then move to an empty bar, and only then begin to gradually add weigh. “First, hone your technique and build a solid foundation.”
3. Closed horizon on the uneven bars
Execution technique. Place your hands on paralets or regular aluminum push-up bars, shift your center of gravity forward to your shoulder girdle, and pull your knees bent under your torso. The pelvis and shoulder joints are at the same level, the back is parallel to the ground.
What is the difficulty for men. “The difficulty of the closed horizon (plane) is that it requires an isometric contraction of almost all muscle groups. With this type of load, the muscles of most guys are simply not familiar. In addition, the horizon requires agility, strength and excellent intermuscular coordination, ”explains Stephen Chek, founder of the club in New York. The only people who constantly train like this are gymnasts.
How best to do. “Start with the“ float ”exercise – it’s like a plank, only on the palms and with a rounded back. Learn to shift your entire body weight forward so that your hands are almost flush with your hips, Chek advises. “Consciously engage the stabilizing muscles and tighten the gluteal complex.” Once you have learned to do this exercise, you can move on to the uneven bars and use a raised surface (like a yoga block) to support your feet until you can hold your body on your hands alone.
4. Side lunges
Execution technique. Step your left foot to the side and lower your pelvis, squatting back and down on the left side. Make sure your right leg stays straight. Return to the starting position, pushing off with your left foot. Change sides and repeat the movement. Exercise with your own weight or with weights.
What is the difficulty for men. “In most of our everyday life movements, we move forward or backward, although movements in different planes make us more flexible,” says Joey Thurman, a certified personal trainer. – Side lunges are especially difficult for men because we rarely do them; the exercise looks girly. It also requires a good stretch in the hip area, which is usually a limp in guys for two reasons. Firstly, we sit all day, which leads to shortening of the muscles of the thigh and pelvis, and secondly, we overload the quadriceps, which also leads to tightness in the hip region. ”
How best to do. Stretch the muscles of the front, back of the thigh, and gluteal complex on the massage roller to open up your thighs. “Deep body squats are very beneficial for developing flexibility in the hip area,” says Thurman. – You need to squat to bend at an angle of 90-130 degrees in the hip joints and up to 110-165 degrees in the knee joints.
At least once a day, squat as deep as possible without letting your heels come off the floor. Hold in this position for 30 seconds and only then rise. Continue this exercise until your buttocks are touching the ground. “This will help to swing the pelvis far enough back in lateral lunges so that the femur touches the abdominal wall when the spine is in a neutral position,” Thurman adds.
5. Pistol squats
Execution technique. From the starting position, extend one leg in front of you, keeping it straight. Bend the other leg at the knee and go down in a controlled manner so that the back of the thigh touches the calf muscles. Push off the heel to return to the starting position.
What is the difficulty for men. “Guys rarely forget to work out their arms or chest muscles while the legs get less attention. Even less attention is paid to the one-way movements that require flexibility and balance, says Albert Matheny, Certified Strength and Functional Trainer. Pistol squats not only test the strength and strength of one leg, but they also require significant flexibility in the lower back, hamstrings and ankles to be performed correctly. I rarely meet guys with good stretches – and good stamina – in all of these areas. ”
How best to do. To master the pistol squat, you need to remember the principle of progressive training. “First you need to reduce the depth of the squat until you can do at least 3 sets of 5 successful reps,” says Matheny. – When you can do 3 sets of 10, start squatting deeper. At first, you can hold a counterweight in front of you, it will help maintain balance. ” Including basic hamstring and lower back stretches in your training schedule will help.