As a follow up to last week's article about the basic movements all exercisers should be practicing, I've also gone ahead and compiled a list of advanced exercises which many may not have heard of but which I can wholeheartedly recommend trying out. These exercises may be more specialized in terms of their scope, and may be more complex to master, but are still massively beneficial for general populations. These movements may require more time and effort to learn the form of, and may require extensive youtube research or the help of a skilled personal trainer or strength coach, but for them, the cost is worth it.
1.) The Olympic Lifts (Clean and Jerk, Snatch)
The two Olympic lifts are, in my opinion, probably the two most complex lifts currently in general usage. While the squat and deadlift come close in terms of complexity, the snatch and clean and jerk still have a solid lead. Both movements involve starting from the floor and getting a barbell overhead, meaning that they heavily involve legs and shoulders, but that they also use a lot of other musculature as well. In addition, both focus heavily on power production (force*time), which is rarely seen in other lifting sports (highland games being a notable exception). Essentially, the faster one can get the bar off the ground, the more momentum one can build, allowing the lifter to more effectively get the bar overhead. These lifts are great for sports athletes and martial artists, who will find that the ability to produce additional power within the legs and arms has a massive amount of carryover. While Olympic lifting itself may not be as much in fashion as it once was, the Olympic lifts have a wide variety of usages and can be used effectively by a lot of exercisers, provided they master the form of the exercise first to avoid the potential for injury.
2.) The Kettlebell Swing
3.) The Hip Thrust
Bret Contreras' brainchild, the hip thrust, is also the single most effective exercise at training and isolating the glutes. While most people build strong glutes by a combination of knee and hip extension exercises (squats and deadlifts), Bret went straight to the source by inventing an exercise that actually focuses on the glutes themselves, rather than targeting them secondarily. The hip thrust may look silly, of course: humping the air with a barbell on your pelvis is certain to get you some weird looks at the gym. But it's important to understand that it's still a very solid movement in terms of musculature used, effectiveness, and usefulness. Those looking to pack on some quality glute musculature, or those looking for an accessory movement to their squats and deadlifts, will find that the hip thrust is the perfect exercise for them. Plus, since it's a lower body exercise, you can still get impressive numbers on that bar.
Okay, so not really a new movement, but a new way of using an old one. Not enough people do sprints, even though the vast majority of them would be greatly benefited by implementing them into their routines. Not only to sprints help build the lower body power and agility that athletes and runners need, they provide a hefty cardio workout in a much shorter period of time. A series of 6-8 30-second sprints can be more effective than an hour of jogging on a treadmill, and take up a lot less time. Plus, sprints are automatically scaling (you'll always push yourself to your limits) which means the possibility of stagnation is much smaller. Sprints can also reduce the catabolic effects of running, allowing bodybuilders and those interested in getting leaner to get a quality workout in without counteracting their hard earned gainz.
5.) Sled Drags/Pushes
Sled drags and pushes are one of the best conditioning tools available. They build lower body strength as well as total cardiovascular capacity, and require only relatively simple equipment. Chances are you could rig up a sled at home with a little bit of scrap metal, rope, and wood, or you can find cheap sleds through most exercise equipment providers. While sleds are sadly rarely seen in commercial gyms because of the weird logistics of letting people put weights on a sled and run around with them (bet you won't see that at Planet Fitness!), they are well-appreciated in Crossfit and specialty gyms, and can be easily found in the hands of strength coaches and athletic teams. Sled drags and pushes are great for weight loss and general conditioning, plus you get to look badass hauling a heavy weight around.
Well, I had to, after a friend of mine mocked me for leaving these out of the basic movements. Dips are a strong upper-body exercise that focus on the chest and triceps. Dips start out as a bodyweight movement, but can easily be progressed to a weighted movement by means of a specialized dip/pullup belt or a weighted vest. Excellent at building that upper-body strength, and in my opinion the best tricep exercise out there, dips are a useful tool in anybody's arsenal. Not as critical as the bench, but certainly up there.
7.) Box Jumps
Box jumps are an excellent bodyweight exercise for building lower-body power, and can be easily progressed by increasing the box height or adding weight with a weighted vest. This will be most useful for athletes and martial artists, but the ability to jump really high can probably be appreciated by anyone. As this exercise will favor bodyweight warriors, gymnasts, and anyone else on the lighter end of the spectrum, box jumps aren't necessarily great for bodybuilders, heavier lifters, or weight loss clients. Still, box jumps are a serious workout no matter what.
So there you go. The 7 most useful all-around exercises that you should be doing if you aren't already. I've taken care to take out the most extremely specialized exercises, focusing instead on those that still have a wide applicability despite being more specialized/harder to learn/more obscure. Incorporate these movements into your workout for a serious difficulty boost, and start to see your goals falling away like never before!