Zach Kotecki – @ZachKoteckiFitness
We’ve all been there: you’re at the gym and the machines you want to use for your workout are occupied. You have a few options: 1) Wait for the person to be finished, which we all know feels like it can take an eternity, especially if you’re at a big box gym which is more prevalent for gym users to hop on their phone for extended periods of time, hogging the machines. Or option: 2) Get creative! One of the things I love most about working out is there is an endless amount of ways you can substitute exercises for the desired muscle group you’re looking to hit that day. This also comes in handy if you feel like you’re stuck doing the same movements over and over. Working out should be fun! Switching up training styles, tempo, variety and equipment are just a few ways to make sure to keep your body guessing as to whats coming next, which in return helps with muscle growth and keeping the workouts fresh! Remember, the more your workouts change, the less likely you are to get burnt out by the same old gym routines. Sure, the more knowledge and tools you have in your gym helps in being able to pick and choose exercises that you can do if you run into this problem. Here are a few of my favorite machine “hacks” that I’ve used from time to time to hit my muscles in new and exciting ways! I hope this gets your minds thinking in new ways to add some “gym hacks” into training at your gyms!
Vertical Leg Press On Smith Machine:
- Not many gyms nowadays have a vertical leg press, but you can create your own with a Smith machine! Load the desired weight onto the machine and make sure the rack is on the safety pins upon starting. Lie down underneath the machine on the floor so that your legs and hips are directly underneath the bar. Place your feet under the bar and either have a partner or yourself carefully unrack the bar. Control the weight downward, bring your knees in towards your chest, as far as they allow, and press the bar back up keeping your core tight. You’ll feel this work your legs in a new way and its a nice way to switch things up in your training.
Donkey Kicks Using Leg Extension Machine:
- Kneel down in front of the machine to start. You will be facing away from the machine. Using the pad your legs would push against for a normal leg extension, place one foot under the pad at about mid foot. Keeping your core tight, hips squared to the ground and head neutral kick upwards with the elevated foot. Squeeze briefly at the top of the movement and control it back down, adding weight accordingly.
Banded Tricep Pushdowns:
- This is a great way to build some thick triceps! If the weight stack on your cable machine at your gym no longer suits you and you need more weight to keep building muscle, I’ve got you covered! Simply grab a resistance band of your choice, drape it over the top of the cable machine and wrap it around your choice of equipment (V-Bar, Straight Bar, etc..) This will provide greater tension throughout the entirety of the lift. As you press down the band gets longer making it more difficult to lockout the lift.
Drag Curls On Smith Machine:
- Who doesn’t enjoy to work on their biceps? I know I sure do! Drag curls are a fun way to hit the bicep in a new way other than what straight bar curls can do. This can be done on some preacher curl machines but easier on the smith machine so that’s what I’ll refer to. Set the bar at the desired height for your curls. Unrack the bar with a supinated grip (palms facing up) from the safety pins and lower your arms until they are straight keeping your elbows close to your torso and back. Keeping your core tight, begin by curling the bar up while keeping your elbows as far to the back of you as possible and the bar in contact with your torso. Be sure to not lift with your shoulders, rather focus on bringing elbows back as you curl the bar up. Slowly lower back into the starting position as you keep the bar in contact with your torso still.
Banded Dumbbell Pullovers:
- This can be done with a variety of equipment, for this I will use the standard dumbbell. Anchor a resistance band to something sturdy and low, I use the dumbbell rack (This is the end your head will be lying). Wrap the other end of the band around the dumbbell making sure its not going to come loose. Place a dumbbell standing up on a flat bench. Lie perpendicular to the bench, forming a cross, with only your shoulders in contact with the bench. Your hips should be below the bench and your legs bent with feet securely on the floor. Grab a hold of the dumbbell with both hands and hold it straight over your chest with arms extended, both palms placed against the undersides of the dumbbell, again making sure the band is secure. Keep your core tight thought the entire lift. While keeping your arms straight, slowly lower the weight towards the anchor, arms going overhead getting a good “arch” stretch in the chest. Then bring the dumbbell back to the starting position using the back arch through which the weight was lowered, keeping hips square and core tight. Squeeze the chest briefly at the starting position before starting the next rep. The band for this exercise will add tension throughout the whole lift and make your pump that much better!