If it feels like you’re on a never-ending quest to fill out your shirt and bust through your sleeves, you need to course-correct. Odds are you’ve had a heavy rotation of bench presses and biceps curls when training an upper-body split. They’re great building blocks, but after years of the same exercises, you’ve either plateaued, become bored or both.
One way to shock your muscles is changing your stance to challenge your stability, core strength, balance and muscular endurance while making your favorite movements feel completely new. With these variations, you’ll engage your core more and tap into ancillary strength (the targeted group’s supporting muscles). Here are a few classic upper-body exercises with a lower-body twist.
Complete exercises as a circuit for 3 to 5 rounds, resting as needed. While these moves will crank up your heart rate, don’t rush. Perform with control and use moderate to heavy weight.
Clever Stance Variations That Make Classic Upper-body Exercises Feel New
1. Glute Bridge Hold Floor Press x 15 reps (shown above)
Start in a lying position with knees bent at 90 degrees, feet on the ground, hip-width apart, dumbbells in hands. Lift hips by driving heels into floor, engaging glutes. Position elbows out 45 degrees and stack wrists directly above. Exhale as you press dumbbells toward ceiling, finishing with wrists directly over shoulders (shown). Inhale as you lower to start position. Really engage core and glutes for stability; they’ll help keep your spine neutral and hips level and elevated for the duration of the round.
2. Staggered-stance Unilateral Bentover Row x 8 reps each side
Assume a staggered stance with soft bend in knees, holding dumbbells. Maintain a flat back as you hinge at hips, leaning chest forward to 45 degrees. With arms extended straight and palms facing each other, exhale, then row weights to hips, driving elbows back. Complete all reps on one side, then switch leading leg in the stance.