Virginia Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Matt Stemmler demonstrates exercises at Gold Medal Grappling in Woodbridge, Va. Stemmler is an instructor at the 1-183d RTI at Fort Pickett, Va. (Mike Morones / Staff)
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I often walk into the gym and watch clients lift, pull, run, crunch, jump and toss — but what I really want to see is something different.
Bodybuilding guru Nick Nilsson, the self-styled "Mad Scientist of Exercise," invents new approaches to many standard lifts and developed the single-side dead lift and the single-shoulder bar squat. You will definitely turn heads in the gym with these.
Take this one outside. You'll need a partner to do the steering. The standard course is 100 meters, and a straight course works best.
• Get close to the tailgate and lower your hips to generate the power you want. Your back will be angled, head upward.
• Once you have the truck moving, try to hold a steady pace.
Single-side dead lift Folks will really scratch their heads when you set up for this exercise.
• Load weight on one side of the bar — I put a plywood spacer or 10-pound bumper plate on the other side — then get into your regular dead lift stance.
• When you start your lift, exert some downward pressure on the hand on the side of the light weight to keep the bar as even as possible.
• Lift with your legs, keeping the bar close to your shins.
• As the bar passes your knees, come to a full standing position.
• Return the weight to the floor, lowering with your legs and keeping the downward pressure on the lightweight end. Take a breath and repeat, then repeat on the other side.
Single-shoulder bar squat
This hits the abs, shoulder girdle and legs. Start light.
• Use a power rack — aka squat cage or squat rack — with the bar set at a moderate height. When you stand by the bar, you will be facing one of the weighted ends.
• Start at the bottom of the squat with the bar resting on the rack, the hand of the non-weight-bearing shoulder forward, the working arm with elbow up.
• Put one shoulder under the bar; start up slightly to feel your balance point; adjust if needed; then power up to the standing position.
• Take a breath, descend slowly to the start position and repeat.
Concentration curls on a low row machine
This set minimizes stress in the back of the shoulder because your back is in an upright, rather than a bent-over, position.
• Attach a single grip handle to the carabiner on the low row machine.
• Sit down, keeping one foot on the floor and the other on the bench, with the upper knee bent.
• Grip the handle, place your elbow against the inside of the thigh and complete a very strict biceps curl. This isolates the lift to the biceps, and using a cable machine keeps the tension uniform throughout the movement.
Bob Thomas is director of the Navy Wellness Center in Pensacola, Fla. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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