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3 Weird Exercises Your Workouts Are Missing

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The neglected exercises that are fantastic for muscle recruitment, stability, and power.

If you missed my last post where I went over two unusual exercises that I think you should start doing, you might want to click through and give it a read because today, we’re covering the last three.

The Deep Bend Row

This unusual exercise is a variation of the bent over row, and requires you to bend your body at an incredibly steep angle—hence the super original name.  You just place your palm on the ground and arrange yourself in a “pike” position.  From there, perform a dumbbell row.

Here’s a video of the Deep Bend Row:

Obviously, it looks a bit silly; and perhaps even more obviously, the set up and positioning don’t allow for use of particularly heavy weight.  However, there are a few benefits to consider.

First, your “non-working” arm is supporting a good part of your body weight, so you’re building some shoulder stability.  Second, holding the pike position is a nice way to get some extra flexibility work—and let’s face it: You’re not stretching regularly and you know it.

Finally, we come to the main benefit, which is the difference in the line of pull.  I don’t like to fall back on bodybuilding clichés like “hit the muscle from all angles” but in this case, I like the variation because it works your back completely differently from anything else I’ve found.  This is a great exercise for high reps and light weights; focus on scapular stability and a good range of motion.

1-Arm Inverted Row

Next up on our list of unusual exercises is the 1-Arm Inverted Row. Now, some exercises look easy but are actually hard.  Some are pretty hard while looking easy.

And then you have a few that are as hard as they look.

I love this exercise because it looks so bad-ass.  It looks as hard as it is, which means not many people even attempt it. But if you give it a shot, I swear you’ll keep it in your workout programs for a long time to come.

Here’s a video:

The 1-Arm row obviously helps you develop tremendous pulling strength in the upper back muscles, but it also forces you to stabilize, so it engages your core very heavily.  In addition, like all single-limb exercises, the 1-Arm Inverted Row forces the recruitment of a superior number of high-threshold motor unit (HTMUs), which means this unusual exercise is fantastic for building both strength and muscle.

Finally, it’s a cool way to help you start developing the strength and coordination necessary to perform a 1-arm pull-up, which may be the most bad-ass exercise of all time.

Super Charging Tip: Can’t do a 1-Arm Inverted Row yet?  No problem.  Start with a side-to-side inverted row, which will help you develop the strength, as well as efficiency in the movement pattern.

Here’s a video:



Overhead Bulgarian Split Squat

The benefits to this one are seemingly endless.  You get the benefit from a unilateral exercise.  You get the benefit of overhead exercise.  You get the core activation inherent in the movement.  And you get to look awesome doing it.

This is a hard one, so work up to it by practicing unloaded (just holding your hands straight over your head). As for loading, you can do it with a barbell or dumbbell, but I much prefer using a medicine ball or a plate, as shown in the video.

Check it:

It feels as cool as it looks.

 Okay, so that concludes the list! I want you to try ALL of these exercises today, and then report back with your thoughts.  At least 50 COMMENTS and I’ll put up a brand new post tomorrow!

By the way, if you want a whole mess of OTHER unusual exercises, you should definitely check out my Omega Body Blueprint program. It’ll help you optimize your hormones, slash your body fat, and enjoy all the benefits of advanced bodyweight training, like improved neurological efficiency, stability, and muscle recruitment (Yes, it has amazing carryover to your weightlifting as well). Take a look at this killer program today!

About the Author

John Romaniello is a level 70 orc wizard who spends his days lifting heavy shit and his nights fighting crime. When not doing that, he serves as the Chief Bro King of the Roman Empire and Executive Editor here on RFS. You can read his articles here, and rants on Facebook.

  • My absolute favorite has to be the one arm inverted row. Beastly my friend…just beastly.

  • For an awesome (and difficult) change, try side to side PIKE push ups.

  • Excellent suggestion – I'll get this done in the next few weeks =)

  • Yeah, the LA version are effing miserable – but effective.

  • Fair enough! I'll do a post about my tats at some point.

  • As long as you picked up the program I'm happy. Email me and I'll hook you up!

  • Thanks Trevor! The 1-arm row is awesome, I will be working it back into my programming next week.

  • Debs

    um – I'm about to test which will win out with you – your 'narcissism' or your 'self-loathing': I disobeyed your subtle hints & ordered Shapeshifter via your pal Flavia – BUT I'd also like to have your bonuses…. & I will still respect you in the morning…..

  • CaliGirl

    Your tat shows on your overhead Y video from yesterday. Big Fan! Would love to see a better view – just for fun ;-)

  • Great exercises, loving the 5 that yoy have given. 1-Arm Inverted Row awesome. Keep up the great blogs, look forward to recieving these emails

    Trevor

  • Matan Vardi

    Hey man love your workouts you really bring something new to the table! I think it would be cool if you could mention how to look lean and full in an article, would be real helpful to me!

  • There are quite a few. I just pulled this one, which illustrates a difference between bilateral exercises vs unilateral:

    http://jap.physiology.org/content/56/1/46.abstract

  • lol, where are you seeing the tattoo? It's not an any of the vids.

    It's a latin quote, translating roughly to “Hopelessly Hopeful.”

    Because…yeah, I'm super Emo.

  • Hey Tonia,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, and I appreciate the kind words.

    You're right — deep bend row is very similar to downdog. And since I love yoga, it's not hard to see why I like this!

  • There are 4 youtube videos embedded in this post…?

    If you're not seeing them, it could be a problem with your ISP or browser.

    Might want to try from a different comp?

  • Hey man! Thanks for popping by =) I appreciate the praise from the Mad Scientist himself. And might I add, you are looking very Beastly in your gravatar.

    We should chat soon and come up with a program made up of all our crazy exercises!

  • A common misconception; this is one of the biggest myth in exercise.

    Eric Cressey covered it in detail here:

    http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance_repair/debunking_exercise_myths_part_i

  • Congrats, Neisha! That's truly fantastic progress. Please let me know how I can continue to help you =)

  • Tracy

    These moves are great. My only concern is the Overhead Bulgarian split squat – your front knee goes far over your toe when you bend down. Is that not asking for trouble with your knees?

  • Vix

    Loving your blog, glad you uploaded the new one…..but there are no videos

  • Tonia

    Hey Roman.

    Actually did the Deep Bend Row today with a friend as part of the XFLD. It's like doing downward dog with a row. Very taxing and yes, you need a lighter weight than usual.

    I enjoy reading your blog, although I don't comment much.

    thanks heaps

  • Neisha

    Very satisfied. With some the help of some of your tips I went from 250 lbs now weighing 179 lbs and still going down(hopefully). I am 20 yrs old 5'5 female.

  • Lucas Biaggini

    Hyy, Roman. Those exercises look killer, cant wait to try then. It sucks that medschool get me so busy i almost have no time to exercise, so thanks to you for helping us do more workout in less time.

    About another reader who said he doesnt have a bar, guees where do i do the inverted rows??? Under my house staircase. Thats rigth, we have an elyptical style staircase with metal bars under it, so i just lay on the floor and do the rows. Now the tricky part is that the bars are actually tilted to the center of the staircase, so I actually get another component on the exercise, so it is even more challenging.

  • Pete Stevens

    Roman is God!

  • Good stuff, man! I've never done the deep bend dumbell row…I'm going to have to give that one try asap here.

  • matt

    do the side to side inverted rows all the time as well as side to side pushups! try them as an awesome way to change up pushups

  • Adam

    Hey Roman, what's the tattoo on your left pec of?

  • Tony Roe

    God, I really hate OH Bulg. Split Squats – especially the LA variation. Every time I finish a set my knees want to buckle because my quads feel so tore up. Good stuff!

  • Frank A

    You and Nick Nilsson ought to get together – as you two come up with some really different and totally AWESOME variations.

    Challenge for you… a bodyweight only (no equipment) exercise to replace the inverted row!!

  • Innis

    In your email you said you hit a pr in a exercise we wouldn't expect . What did you do ?

  • Ted

    @kangax

    I believe the logic in saying that 1-arm exercises force recruitment of a superior number of high-threshold motor units is that you're pulling the same amount of weight with one arm instead of two.

    The idea might be comparable to lifting 100 lbs for barbell push press, then progressing to a 100 lb dumbbell for a single arm push press. When you use both arms you're distributing the same amount of weight over two arms.

  • Josseline

    Love all of these exercises, especially the Overhead Bulgarian Split Squat. I was doing them yesturday and told by some random stranger that I must be a ballerina for being so balanced and strong while doing them… Couldn't help but chuckle on the inside at the comment

  • MC

    I just finished my lactic acid workout which had some of the five. Loving the burn! I don't have access to a bar. Is there any other exercise similar to the one-arm inverted row? Or else I'll have to go to the local playground lol.

  • RJ

    I'm excited to try all of these exercises!

    I supersetted the Y-presses with overhead presses during my last shoulder workout and it felt great.

  • I'm excited to give them a try.

    I first read the post on RSS and pictured a the deep bend row in a full pike (my daughter is a gymnast). The video makes more sense without the deep stretch.

    The one arm rows look awesome. Have you done them on rings?

  • rocky

    Yeah those overhead bulgarian split squats are brutal.. in a good way. They make you question why your doing what your doing and hate your life all at the same time when you put them in a lactic acid workout.

  • I need a higher ceiling. If I put my hand overhead like that they would be brushing the ceiling. If I then hold weights in my hands, they would be going into the ceiling. Too bad it gets too cold in the Great White North to use my garage for working out.

  • Ylwa

    1-arm rows are insanely hard to do with proper form. And it's not the upper body I'm referring to. What I struggle with the most is to keep my hips in line.

    Another “fun” variation of the split squat that I found the other week courtsey of Eric Cressey is the bulgarian split squat from deficit. Instead of holding the weight over your head you hold one dumbell on the non-working leg side while performing a split squat. So much better recruitment of the gluteus maximus, which is right on target for me right now

  • Great exercises.

    I'm focusing on sculpting my legs and glutes, so I'm going to give the Overhead Bulgarian Split Squat a try.

    Thanks!

  • Thank you for this and the last post. I enjoy doing unusual exercises due to the challenge it usually has on the body and mind.

    Zottman curl's have been something I started doing after seeing something in a Men's Health magazine and began telling people of their worth after doing them myself. Most people look at me like I'm crazy or stupid or something because it's not a traditional exercise. Thank you for continually innovating and spreading it. Look forward to more.

  • Jean-Charles

    I dislike row training because of lack of sensations, but I'm eager to try the deep bend row and the one arm inverted row this coming monday. Thanks for those 2 Roman!

  • The fact that 1-arm exercises force recruitment of a superior number of high-threshold motor units is new to me.

    Is there a reference to any studies on this subject?

  • Good stuff. One armed inverted rows tomorrow, I'm sold.