By Thomas Sellers Jr.
For many U.S. Americans, their resolution this year was just to live to see 2021.
We’re three weeks into this new calendar and the traffic at the gym is slow and steady. The normal January packs in hundreds and hundreds of people ready to rededicate themselves to better health. But I can plainly see people are staying true to their no resolution, resolution for 2021.
Many people are still concerned about COVID-19 and the safety measures at gyms. My place of working out is 901 Fitness located at 3634 Austin Peay Highway in Memphis. I must say the protective measure are apparent and awareness of the CDC regulations are enforced.
We wear mask at all times, having sanitizing cleaning nearby every machine, plate, station and dumbbell. Classes have limited numbers with spacing. And the cardio area is regulated with time limits and once again spacing.
The faithful few are enjoying having time at the gym and not a herd of temporary resolution soldiers. Those who dedicate routine focus to their bodies and health, known battling the bulge is as tough as fighting a global pandemic. Actually obesity is a pandemic in the United States.
I’ve dropped 125 pounds and God has blessed me to keep it off for 11 years now. Good diet and cardio work are two of the three biggest reasons why the weight has stayed off. The last factor and most enjoyable of the trio is weightlifting.
With dozens and dozens of awesome workouts I actually look forward to in the gym, this week’s Best Sellers’ List is going to focus on my top 10 weightlifting exercises. Let’s unrack this countdown.
- Tire Flip
Tire flipping is a great way to work posterior-chain muscles like your hamstrings, back, and glutes (muscles you’d engage during a deadlift, for example) and can be especially good for people who sit a lot.
I have a desk job at times and my weekly tire flipping routine help my lower body stay tight. I have to make a confusion — I HATE TIRE FLIPPING. Every Monday morning, I going to do three sets of 20 flips of a 360-pound tractor tire. It’s painful and a test of endurance. But I love the feeling once I’m done for a week.
Now I will take the sledgehammer to the tire sometimes and do some deadlifts with the big tire by the middle of the week. Get a tire routine so you can be tired too.
- Body Lifting
The pull-up hits almost every muscle in your upper body, particularly your back, which is why it’s also such an effective calorie torcher. But by changing your grip or the angles you work, or even just where you position the bar, you can also target those muscles the standard pull-up misses.
In addition to the pull-up, you can suspend your body in the air and lift your legs up to work your abdominal muscles. Using your body weight is the best way to build your core. Core strength will allow you to have better workouts overall and increase your output on leg, arm, shoulder, chest, back and ab day.
- Stability Ball Ab Work
Those big balloon-looking balls in the gym, they can be fun and productive for your physical health. Engaging glutes and abs, lift hips up from the floor. Exhale and slowly bring knees in toward hips, so feet are resting flat on top of the ball. Pause for a few seconds in this position and then inhale, straightening legs again.
Another trick on the stability ball is to do leg lifts to work your lower abdominal. There is a large library of ab workouts you can find in magazines or online that will put the stability ball to great use.
- Bus driver
The “bus driver” exercise is where you hold a plate at arms length in front of you and rotate slowly. It’s a hugely underrated shoulder movement. This exercise puts the whole deltoid group under constant tension and works angles that aren’t normally trained in the gym.
Shoulder day is my absolute favorite day in the gym. My shoulders are my best feature. And to get a great looking shoulder, that full appearance, this exercise is the best. It hits all three-delt heads. Start your delt routine with this workout to get the blood pumping.
Grab that steering wheel and drive blood into those muscles. Great way to build front, middle and rear deltoids.
- Preacher Curl
Position your upper arms and chest against the preacher bench pad while holding the E-Z Curl Bar at shoulder length. As you exhale, use the biceps to curl the weight up until your biceps are fully contracted and the bar is at shoulder height. Squeeze the biceps hard and hold this position for a second.
Great workout for the middle of your arm day routine. I will use the E-Z Curl Bar and a dumbbell for more isolation. Control is the key to this workout. Don’t jump your arm, or rock off the bench. Let your bicep do all the work so you can engage the two heads in the arm.
- Hack Squat
A hack squat works the entire lower body — including the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves. It also engages the core. An emphasis on the quads means the front of your legs will be feeling it afterward.
This exercise is cool because it’s like taking a seat as you hold a bunch of weight behind yourself. Slowly guide the barbell down your calves without touching them. If you’re in a hurry, most gyms have a hack squat machine. You can load up more weight there and build your strength while creating muscle memory.
- Dumbbell Bench Press
Lift the dumbbells to chest height with your palms facing forwards. Breathe out and push the dumbbells up until your arms are fully extended, using your pecs to power the movement. Don’t let the dumbbells touch. Pause for a second at the top, then slowly bring them back down as you inhale. And the key to this exercise and what makes it better than the barbell bench press is allowing the dumbbells to go lower on the way down. You can press the dumbbells past your pectorals for a deeper pump. I have eliminated the barbell bench out of my chest day routine. Doing three sets with 10 reps at 75 pounds each is good enough to get my pecs jumping.
- Triceps Extension
No arm day is complete without triceps work. The largest muscle in your arm deserves attention but doesn’t need a lot of weight. Great way to attack the triceps is with an array of extensions through pulldowns and pushdowns.
A pushdown is a strength training exercise used for strengthening the triceps muscles in the back of the arm. The exercise is completed by pushing an object downward against resistance. This exercise is an example of the primary function of the triceps, extension of the elbow joint.
Reverse your grip and execute pulldown exercises for the triceps. Extend that muscle and squeeze to get the body pumping.
- Drag Curl
When you’re arm day is almost over and you need that final workout to drive blood to those two tiny muscles, bust out the drag curl. This is a great exercise to improve the size of your biceps.
Folks rarely use the drag curl because it is easy to overlook. And it is a challenge to do. This exercise requires perfect form and control.
The drag curl emphasizes the brachialis and outer portion of the biceps (the long head). The number one rule is this: squeeze extra hard at the top. Use light weight and drag the barbell along your abdomen. It will make you look silly in the gym but feel like Superman once you leave.
- Shoulder Shrugs
The shoulder shrug is an exercise in weight training used to develop the upper trapezius muscle. It’s like somebody giving you a question and you don’t know the answer. You shrug your shoulders but add a couple hundred pounds.
The lifter stands erect, hands about shoulder width apart, and slowly raises the shoulders as high as possible, and then slowly lowers them, while not bending the elbows, or moving the body at all. The lifter may not have as large a range of motion as in a normal shrug done for active flexibility. It is usually considered good form if the slope of the shoulders is horizontal in the elevated position.
This workout makes you look like Hercules or the Incredible Hulk. And it give men that desire V-look in sweaters, v-neck shirts and tank tops. I love doing these in the middle of shoulder day between delts and getting to my traps.
I hope sharing these will inspire some to get back into the gym and others to start up down the line when it’s safer. Remember hard work can be fun.
THOMAS SELLERS JR. is the editor of The Millington Star and both the sports editor and a weekly personal columnist for West 10 Media/Magic Valley Publishing. Contact him by phone at (901) 433-9138, by fax to (901) 529-7687 and by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.