Training Spice and Avoiding Aggravation: Utilising Exercise Variants

May 5th 2014 | by Matt Bembridge (AKA Gym Professor)

Exercise selections may be pre-determined by your sport or endeavour; it can equally be determined by mindset and knowledge. In past articles, you’ll note that I always suggest ancillary lifts alongside, or as an alternative to, more generic lifts. Increasing your available repertoire of movements can prove useful in adding variety to your training, they’re also an invaluable aid in the circumstance of niggle or injury; allowing the ability to achieve sufficient stimulus without making a matter worse. As an example, we’ll use one of the most-respected lifts: the Barbell Squat. I’m not for one moment suggesting that you do not perform a barbell squat; it should be a staple of your workout regime! What I will suggest is that sometimes a variant may be preferential. Okay, so, here are some examples with the Barbell Squat... trainer issue: an alternate exercise.

Smith Machine Hack Squats

Tight Achilles Tendon: Hack Squats (machine or smith machine).
Shoulder restriction: Front Squat or Safety Squat Bar.
Tight Patellar Tendon: Hack Squats to parallel.
Hip shift: Wider-Stance Squat (& consciously push feet out against the floor).
Tight Hamstrings: Squat to parallel only.
Lower back stiffness: Leg Blaster Squats.
Lower back pain/ strain: Hip Belt Squats.

Exercise variations can be found with every major movement. Personally, I find variations more appropriate than pain relief or using an external support (e.g. weightlifting belt, tape, wraps). Whilst these variants do not address fixing a complaint, they can help avoid aggravating an existing issue and provide some much needed respite. In some circumstances, you may know the root cause; in others, you may not. Find the cause of the problem and look to resolve it; in the meantime, try not to make a matter worse.

Barbell Squats

Train insane, you only have yourself to blame; train smart, by utilising variations, and you can probably train harder tomorrow. 

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