The seated row is a useful machine as it allows you to focus on the muscles of the upper back and arms with more isolation than other forms of row. Other rowing variations tend to rely heavily on the core, spinal erectors and legs to keep you in a stable position to pull from which can sometimes hamper and limit the work out the muscles you are trying to work can get. The seated row allows you to brace against the chest pad while sitting tall so that you can place the focus firmly on the bigger upper back pulling muscles and those of the arms.
The Squat Jump is a great exercise for power development but this is the first one that I’d classify as intermediate to advanced. It is really only appropriate if you are training for sports or athletic performance as your primary outcome. More advanced athletes looking to develop power and particular how fast they can develop power will find the loaded squat jump a very useful tool. You must make sure that you have a strong squatting pattern and sounds jumping and landing mechanics before even considering loaded jumps like these as the forces start to multiple putting you at a higher risk if you are not in control.
The chin-up is the ultimate upper body pulling exercise. It requires a lot of strength to do though as unlike most other resistance exercises, we can’t change the load – we weigh what we weigh! It works the muscles of the upper back and the arms while the whole body has to work on keeping tight and maintain tension so that it can be transferred from the working muscles.
The lunge pattern can be a tricky one to learn, it is essentially a single leg version of a squat so a lot of strength and control is required before you are able to do them unassisted. When you are ready, the reverse lunge is a great place to start. It sets you up square and encourages you to load the right muscles and keep good alignment throughout. There are many variations to how you can load it from using suspension straps to assist the movement all the way to loading weight through a barbell on your back.
The vertical jump is a great exercise for developing power when carried out with the intent to jump as high as possible. It requires no equipment but there are a few things to bear in mind to ensure you keep it safe and effective. Really, the vertical jump exercise is for anyone but I would recommend having some basic knowledge and strength during a loaded squat. This will allow you to safely decelerate and control your body positions during landing.
The dip is the king of all upper body pushing strength building exercises in my opinion. It is a similar motion to a bench press and is essentially a much harder pressup. Inherently the dip has a pretty high level of strength for it even to be an option. If you are benching around 80% 9f your bodyweight and pressups just aren't challenging you anymore then it might be time go consider progressing to dips. They are the best assistance exercise you can do to improve strength in the bench and I would argue are a better option altogether if athletic performance is your goal.
The Snatch Deadlift is not only for Olympic Weightlifters, it can be utilised to challenge the back and legs more than a conventional deadlift allowing you to get stronger while lifting lighter loads. That said, if you struggle to get into a good position to deadlift with a normal grip then chances are you are not ready for the Snatch Deadlift. The wider hand position makes it more like a deficit deadlift in terms of positioning as you effectively shorten the arms having them out wide.
The plank is a great exercise for the core when you set up and perform it correctly. It helps teach you to keep tight through your fully body while you start to add in movement through the hips or shoulders which forms the basis of pretty much all resistance training exercises.
Although fairly simple, the plank is easily executed poorly. Check out some of the tips below for getting the most out of the plank. Once you can comfortably do 1 minute per set then it might be time to consider much more advanced options for progression.
Building strength is not complicated, in fact it is pretty simple. Simple doesn’t equal easy though and with the unlimited amounts of information available to us, the shiny object syndrome pulls our efforts from pillar to post distracting us from what is going to most easily make sustainable strength progress.
The 4 steps (or tips) I’m about to lay out will get you stronger than you ever thought possible – as simple as they sound. If you are straying too far from these steps then you are potentially holding back your progress, over-complicating things and denying yourself the results that you both crave and deserve.
Now let’s get stuck straight into these steps which I have ranked in order of importance so that you can implement them right away.
The Single Arm Row is my favourite upper body pulling exercise. By having your feet square and 3rd point of contact through your non-working arm, you can create a really stable position to lift heavy weights. It is for everyone, there is only a very low body awareness required to be able to perform this movement safely. You need minimal equipment too, a dumbbell and then something sturdy to lean on and you are good to go. This exercise gets your core working hard to brace and to resist rotation, you will feel it in your oblique’s the next day if you work hard to resist excess rotation. With 3 points of contact for support, you are really able to isolate your big pulling muscles of the back and arms. It will also raise awareness of any side to side deficiencies.
Allan Young is a Glasgow based Personal Training who runs Strength Coach Glasgow and is a 4x Scottish Champion Olympic Weightlifter.