Weight training has and will always be the essence of Bodybuilding, without it we couldn’t sculpt the physique of our dreams or build the superhuman strength that is idolized by mere mortals. Currently, the art of weight training lacks a certain rawness that made it very special just a few decades ago; it seems that gyms today are saturated with machines and equipment that takes away from the pure joy of lifting.
The general idea of weight training that is imprinted in today’s society is completely misunderstood and that’s why sometimes it’s better to go back in time and try to learn something from the history books that made bodybuilding so special. The following exercises are often interpreted as “unconventional” or “uncommon” amongst the uneducated part of society, true bodybuilders know that performing these movements is crucial for building the best physique possible.
Steve Reeves was known for having one of the best physiques of his time, not only did it earn him the coveted title of Mr. Universe but it also helped him build a highly successful acting career. Reeves, known for his impressive physique, trained in a very singular manner that many of today’s top bodybuilders would call unconventional, Steve not only trained as hard and as intense as he could, he also went out of his way by introducing new never before seen ways of training that allowed him to propel his physique into new heights.
The Pinch-Grip Deadlift is probably one of the least known exercises ever, only hardcore bodybuilders know of the existence of this very special movement. You perform this exercise by setting up a barbell with a 45lb plate on each side, placing the numeric side of the plates facing outwards, you then proceed and set up your normal deadlift stance and pinch the rim of the plates with your fingers, after this you perform a regular deadlift motion for as many repetitions as you can. This exercise is great for building the legs and back, but it’s incredible for developing grip strength and forearms.
Reverse-Grip Bench Press
The bench press station is probably the most used piece of equipment in the entire gym, not only because it’s great for building the chest area and overall strength but because sadly benching is the image of weight training, even though and let’s face it, squatting and deadlifting are harder and more impressive movements to perform. When it comes down to the actual movement most people like to do flat, some like to do incline and almost nobody wants to do decline, not because the angle variations don’t work but because they’re not as strong or look as cool doing them.
If you normally vary your chest sessions and hit your pectorals from all angles, but they don’t seem to grow as fast as you would like them to, you might need to try something new. The Reverse-Grip Bench Press is not a popular movement, 99% of people have never heard of it and the last 1% probably doesn’t do it because it’s a little complicated to do.
Note this exercise can also be performed on a Smith machine or with dumbbells
To perform this exercise you need to set yourself up in the barbell bench press station, grip the bar with a reverse grip and with the help of a spotter unrack the bar, after you’re done with your set use your spotter again to put the bar back in its place. This type of pressing movement is excellent for developing a thick upper chest, because of the way your hands are placed you will also take stress off of your shoulders.
Clean and Press
This movement is very similar to the clean and jerk; the purpose of doing this exercise is to build strength, explosiveness and muscle. The clean and press may look like a complicated movement to perform, but it’s a whole lot more simple than it looks. To do this exercise, place yourself in front of a barbell with your desired weight, your foot placement must be kept roughly at shoulder width, proceed to set your body in a deadlift position using an overhand grip and then while lifting the weight use your arms, shoulders and forearms to push to weight up and towards your body, as the weight goes up, place your body under the bar and use your upper body strength to push until your arms are over your head and almost completely extended.
This exercise is a must for explosive strength building as it will increase your overall pressing strength. You core strength will also drastically improve, allowing your body to squat and deadlift more weight without the risk of injury. Like it was stated above, this exercise is very simple to perform but if something is not done correctly it can be potentially dangerous and put excess stress on your lower back, but hey, if Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno did them and they worked wonders for them, why not give them a try?
First generation Nautilus Pullover machines are really rare and hard to find but it’s very likely that a gym near you might have a newer version of this piece of equipment. Nautilus is a popular Bodybuilding brand; there isn’t a single Mr. Olympia out there (after the 1960’s) that hasn’t incorporated a piece of this fine equipment designed and created by Arthur Jones into their training sessions. The Nautilus Pullover has been a staple for any bodybuilder that can get his hands on it. The legendary six-time Mr. Olympia Champion, Dorian Yates, has a first generation machine in his personal gym that is used by hardcore bodybuilders who are brave enough to go inside his dungeon.
The first generation Nautilus Pullover machine was plate loaded; the newer ones on the other hand are like any other gym machine and come with a preloaded weight stack. To perform this movement sit on the machine, grab the handle on the back on your head and pull to the front while squeezing your lats, on the way back hold the negative and repeat for as many sets as you can. This machine is not very complex to use but it’s pretty rare to find, if you can get your hands on one, use it, you won’t regret it and your overall back development will skyrocket.