In a recent post, I went over two exercise upgrades that I think most people can easily work into their program. I’ll recap those quickly, and then we’ll move on to my favorite.
The Overhead Squat (OHS)
This an upgrade exercise for various reasons: in addition to getting all of the benefits of a squat, you also build mobility, balance, and work the oft-neglected postural muscles of your upper back. The only drawback is that you can’t use as much weight, so if you’re looking to build big legs and lots of strength, the OHS should be used in conjunction with more traditional squatting movements like the front and back squats.
The Push Press
On the other hand, the second upgrade is actually more suited to building strength and muscle than its little brother, the overhead press. Push pressing with a barbell allows you to use more weight due to the explosive nature of the exercise. You’ll also burn more fat and use more muscle overall. As pressing exercises go, the push press is one of the best.
It’s no secret that if you want to build a great physique—both in terms of a sculpted musculature and being lean enough to see it—you need to use a lot of the “big boy” exercises. Squats and overhead presses, for sure, but also the upgrades we talked about.
Now, if you’re anything like me, you sometimes get bored with even the most beneficial of exercises.
Which goes even for the King of All Exercises: The Deadlift. (Yes, it is better than the squat. Yes, I mean that. Check out my post on why I’m done with back squats for more insight.)
I love the deadlift more than most people, but I also see that while it’s great for building strength and overall muscle, there are ways to make it more effective for both fat loss and hamstring development. If the deadlift is my favorite “basic” exercise, then it should come as no surprise that my favorite exercise upgrade is one that address both of those issues.
Which brings us to…
(Yes, I named it after myself. Sort of. If you read Engineering the Alpha, you’ve seen this called the Alpha Deadlift.)
Falling under a category of movements known as “compound-isolation” movements, the Roman Deadlift is a hybrid of a traditional deadlift and a Romanian deadlift.
The theory is this: you are stronger eccentrically (lowering the weight) than you are concentrically (lifting the weight). You’re also much stronger in the standard deadlift than the Romanian dead. Therefore, we can to work more effectively in both the eccentric and concentric phases by performing the lifting portion as a deadlift and the lowering portion as a Romanian deadlift.
(Oh, and if you’re wondering if it’s better for your booty…well, I’m told my butt is pretty fantastic. Sometimes even by girls!)
While it’s not easy, the Roman deadlift is absolutely one of the best exercise upgrades for overall lower body development and fat loss. Plus, I named it after myself (sort of), so the more people doing it, the more awesome I feel.