Are you that guy? You know, that person in your gym who thinks they know it all, or claims to be in elite shape? I think we all either know somebody like that, or have even been that person before. I know I have.
It’s only human nature to want to be the best at something…to feel good knowing you crushed the hell out of your buddy in the bench press or squat. I love that too. Competition and success in the physical sense is absolutely necessary. We thrive when we are making progress at something. Our confidence grows like a never ending snowball rolling down a hill.
I feel like too many of us get complacent, however. We need that snowball to encounter obstacles. I think even the most dedicated and highly trained athletes or gym goers sometimes assume they have their fitness level by the balls too much of the time. That’s ok sometimes, and it means you’re committed. It means you are part of the damn few who actually take your health seriously. Tip of the cap to ya.
There comes a point though where some of us have consistently trained hard for a long time, and need something to knock us down a few pegs and humble us. I like and need some of the following exercises to strategically use for my own good, with my clients, as well as in my own training. They are the ways I like to humble myself or our badass group of clients at Show Me Strength when they are feeling all big and bad in the gym.
1.) Do an exercise with the word “Bulgarian” in it – Bulgarian split squats can be a brutal unilateral exercise if loaded and executed properly, but there are also several other variations to make it even more challenging for you hardos out there. Single leg work in general can be a downfall for even the strongest of strong, but damn, Bulgaria is a twisted country from coming up with some of these killers.
Bulgarian Split Squats with Front Squat Grip < – – – Click for demonstration
Goblet Bulgarian Split Squat < – – – Click for demonstration
Bulgarian Split Squat Holds < – – Click for demonstration
* Keys to brutality – Figure out how advanced you are by just doing a standard split squat from a stable surface (ground). If you feel strong even with heavy weight, progress to these elevated variations, and mix up the way you load. Hold the kettlebell out in front goblet style if you hang out in lumbar extension and have problems with flaring the ribs. The next progression you can try the front squat variation or iso holds. You can even mess around with a front foot elevation if you are mobile and strong through these first few exercises. As always, load it up, and go slower if you ain’t feelin it. But you will feel it. I promise.
2.) Carry Something Heavy For Distance & Time – The most overlooked part of most people’s training regimen is the loaded carry. Dan John started bringing loaded carries back to the mainstream, but there is still not enough damn carrying going on. I’m talking about picking heavy shit up and walking with it, cradling it, carrying it over head, or carrying it at your side(s). Doing things as simple as this with strict walking form is one of the best full body crushers out there. Below are some examples.
2 Arm Loaded Farmers Walk < – – – Click for demonstration
1 Arm Loaded Farmers Walk < – – – Click for demonstration
Overhead Loaded Farmers Walk < – – – Click for demonstration
* Keys to brutality – Go far enough, carry heavy enough weight, don’t rest much in between sets, and keep as strict and tight as possible through your core to keep yourself balanced and upright. If you aren’t out of breath and barely holding on at the end, you might not be doing them right. Oh and don’t wear gloves, you pussy.
3.) Push Or Pull Something Heavy For Distance or Speed. If you haven’t been introduced to the prowler, variation of sled pulls or pushes, and/or car pushes, you are missing out on some serious predatory conditioning. Not only is pushing/pulling something heavy extremely difficult, if positioned right, these exercises can be performed by almost any level of lifter. Click on the links below for some masochistic ideas for your next lower body or conditioning day.
Prowler Pushes High Setting < – – – Click for demonstration
Prowler Pushes Low Setting < – – – Click for demonstration
Sled drags (Forward) < – – – Click for demonstration
Car pushes < – – – Click for demonstration
* Keys to brutality – Understandably most of you don’t have the fancy prowler to load up your weights, that’s fine. Use your car, a cheap, homemade sled, or plate from a smooth surface. Just as the other exercises, load these up, don’t rest too long, and go for a long distance (25-50yds). Unless you want to use speed as a factor, then you can do sprints with the sled at lighter weight and minimal rest.
4.) Use Paused Squat Variations – So..you can squat 400 plus pound pretty deep? Awesome. Anyone else out there think they are a great squatter? Try adding pauses at different stages of your back squat, front squat, and goblet squat. My buddy Ben Bruno has been instrumental to the fitness industry for finding new and brutal methods of compound exercises which we can all plateau at sometimes. His squat variations have been a huge hit with some of my more advanced clients looking to take their squats to another level. Here are some examples of his brutal findings among others.
Elevator Squats < – – – Click for demonstration
Paused Front Squats < – – – Click for demonstration
Front Squat Iso Hold < – – – Click for demonstration
Paused Squats < – – – Click for demonstration
Paused Goblet Squats < – – – Click for demonstration
* Keys to brutality – Try clusters where you are doing a heavy set of 1-6 reps then resting for a few seconds before getting back for the next set. Only a few sets will work you to a pulp. Also add in longer pauses at the bottom and slower descents from the top.