Great Exercises You Are Not Doing - The Barbell Physio


Great Exercises You Are Not Doing

Great Exercises You Are Not Doing For Performance, Injury Prevention, & Rehab


Great Exercises You Are Not Doing

Single Leg Raise

So, you want to deadlift, kettlebell swing, clean, snatch and jump? Great. But, can you touch your toes? How does your active single leg raise look? Great Exercises You Are Not Doing

I don’t care how heavy you lift until your movements look clean. Performance is nothing without pristine technique and form. Ever see a house built on quicksand? Didn’t think so. You better have the foundational framework and movement patterns nailed down to support your performance output, just as you would in the foundation of a house.

That’s why the single leg raise exercise is so damn important. I’ll use the toe touch and ASLR in my movement assessments, but my absolute go-to exercise in programming is the single leg raise.

Why? Well, you can’t hip hinge efficiently, nor can you generate enough power, unless several things have been taken care of first: optimal pelvic positioning and alignment under ribcage, core activation with proper breathing patterns, efficient motor control of the lumbopelvic region, well-conditioned hamstring muscles, anterior hip mobility, and posterior chain flexibility.

The best bang-for-your-buck exercise to achieve all of these: the single leg raise. Perform 3 sets of 8 reps per side in your warm-up, and also in between hip hinge-based exercises.”

Great Exercises You Are Not Doing

Matthew Ibrahim, Founder of Movement Resilience


great exercises you are not doing

Reverse Hyperextensions with Band Resistance

Despite arguably being a misnomer, the reverse hyperextension is a great exercise for the development of powerful hip extension as well as an effective recovery tool for low back aches and pains. With the punishment the low back can take in CrossFit and Weightlifting, adding reverse hypers to your program may have huge benefits on your low back stamina and performance.

The problem is that many boxes and gyms don’t have a plate-loaded ‘Westside Barbell Special’ hyperextension machine available. No worries; adding banded resistance to the GHD machine is a great substitute.

Stabilize your pelvis over the GHD pads and place your hands on the supports. Brace your core and pull your lats tight before extending your legs. Control the peak tension of the band at the highest extension point of the hips, cautious to not ‘hyperextend’ in the lumbar spine through compensation, before lower to the start position.


Mitch Babcock, Unchained Physio

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great exercises you are not dGreat Exercises You Are Not Doingoing

Body Saw

Body Saws are one of the best core exercises that you can add in to your program. Similar to an ab wheel roll out done on the feet instead of the knees, the body saw challenges the full core and torso to stay solid while the body moves dynamically.

This move can be progressed by increasing range of motion or adding in a pike or knee tuck at the end to hit the abs in a contracted position as well.

By doing body saws slowly and with a great deal of control, especially when fully extended, you can build a tremendous amount of strength through your core and sculpt powerful and thick abs that are as functional as they are impressive.


Nate Palmer, N8 Training Systems 


Great Exercises You Are Not Doinggreat exercises you are not doing

Deficit Split Squats

The deficit split squat is one of my favourite unilateral exercises for the lower body, yet I rarely see people performing this great exercise. Most often, people stick to regular split squats or rear foot elevated split squats. The deficit split squat is a more glute dominant version of a regular split squat, and in my opinion, hits the glutes even harder than most hip thrusts, at least if you perform this exercise through a full range.

This exercise is so much tougher than it looks. The key to this exercise is getting as deep into the movement as your mobility and strength will permit, hence why you are on two boxes so you can go into a deficit (below parallel). You do not need to go very heavy for this exercise to be very effective.

Meghan Callaway, Meghan Callaway Fitness


Cross Body Landmine RDL

By using the cross body position on the landmine, it works the RDL into the transverse plane, which helps increase the glute recruitment by forcing the external rotators of the hip to fire harder.

With the crossbody variation, you don’t want to load it up too heavy right away if you can’t control resisting the rotation through the lower back. The main focus should be on driving the working hip back into a hip hinge, and feeling the tension on the glute at the bottom of the movement. After holding the stretch position for a second, drive the hip forward and squeeze the glute into full hip extension.

I like working these in towards the middle to the end of a lower body, or full body workout. Usually keep the reps in the hypertrophy range, 8-15 reps per leg, for 3-4 sets.

Michael Gorski, MGFitLife

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Crawling and Transitions

The unique design of the shoulder joint requires dynamic stability throughout the freedom of movement to optimize performance and resilience to injury. Multi-directional shoulder stability is the term used to define the synergistic couples of various soft tissue structures aimed at maintaining optimal joint position while moving through space. Many avenues can be taken in this endeavor for some, but nothing beats what nature intended for us to concur, and that is the ground. Crawling holds much skill, endurance, strength, and balance. After all, each of us used the ground as a development tool early on in life and each fall was worth more than we like to remember. While there are many positive adaptations that crawling can bring it must still be progressed correctly. Start with a functional crawl (hands and knees) position, a crab crawl, and lastly a transition from one to the other.

Execution of Functional crawl: While starting on hands and knee (hands under shoulder joint, knee under hip joint) begin by quickly sniffing in air to activate the core muscles. When you feel then snap into contraction hold that contraction but do not hold your breath. Now use the cue “push the ground away” to lift your ribs up and stabilize the shoulder joint. Next, place you toes on the ground (pads down) and lift the knees up. To start, work on isometric holds in this position until you can hold with excellent form for 5 sets of 5. When you are ready to crawl, practice slow and steady crawling in a linear pattern of knee to opposite progressing arm. Use a 3’ foam roller on balanced on your lumbar if you really want a challenge. Crawl for a preset distance increasing over time to nearly 25’ and return back to start for a total of 50’.

Execution of crab crawl: While sitting with knees bent in front of you and feet on the ground, place your hands on the ground (hands facing your feet). Next, sniff in air quickly and tighten your core (again don’t hold your breath). Next, push your hands into the ground lifting your trunk by depressing your shoulders. Again use a static holds before progressing into the crawl. When ready set a distance. (Video HERE)

Execution of transition: While in a functional crawl starting position determine which direction you will transition into first. To go left, begin by rotating the left arm and hand slightly inward, raise the right arm up and over and then follow through with the right leg. (Video HERE)

Mario Novo, LiftersClinic

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Box Squat with Single Leg Concentric


Want to improve your squat without your knees and hips always feeling so beat down. We all know squats are important for performance. However, performing heavy squats multiple times per week can become brutal on your joints. The box squat with a single leg concentric is an excellent way to still train the squatting pattern with high effort, but utilizing a light load that decreases the compressive stress on the joints.

How to perform the exercise: Set up a bench/box to an appropriate height that allows you to squat to a depth of near parallel. Squat down to the box. Move one leg in closer towards midline, and extend the opposite leg out keeping the heel on the ground. Subtly shift your sternum toward the working leg, and push through the entire foot to stand up tall. Repeat on one leg for desired number of reps before performing on opposite side.

When performing the exercise you may notice that one side feels much easier than the other. You may also notice that one knee displays greater control or balance on one side compared to another. These are a couple of asymmetries you will want to improve upon prior to increasing the amount of weight you put on the bar.

Greg Schaible, On Track Physical Therapy


Great Exercises You Are Not Doing

Dumbbell Bench Press with Intent

Simply put, your muscles don’t how much weight you’re lifting. All they know is the amount of tension they feel.

So if your goal is to maximize muscle growth, you better place as much tension through the working muscle as possible. To do so, you’ve got to learn to lift with proper intent.

Sure, you’ve probably done a dumbbell bench press a thousand times before. But if you’re the typical gym bro, you’ve probably never performed the exercise precisely for your goals.

To maximize the amount of tension you place on your pectorals, you’ve got to do a couple of things. First, you’ve got to put your shoulder blades down and back on the bench to minimize the work required from the deltoids. Second, you’ve got to finish the press with the weight outside your shoulder blades.

Why’s that? Check out the video below to find out.


Luke Briggs,

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Great Exercises You Are Not Doing

The Single Leg DeadLift

The Single Leg DeadLift (SLDL) as an exercise has to be safe first so that is why I use this movement as a screen prior to loading it as an exercise. There should be a great attention to the detail of the SLDL. Precision of this movement is very important and powerful. You need to continuously practice it to make it an efficient exercise. Once the movement is mastered, begin to load and load it heavy. Single leg training relates to everyday life as we walk or it could carry over in to more sport specific training as we run, cut and jump. The SLDL requires an impressive amount of athleticism which will yield improved movement quality and massive strength to the posterior chain.

The SLDL as movement and exercise gives you a great bang for your buck. When you are constantly creating changes in your visual environment and joint positions, you are creating a high neural load with a lot of information being processed; this is not a mindless exercise. During the movement you constantly challenge your balance, kinesthetic awareness, hip stability and glute strength. There is a great deal of sensorimotor training occurring while executing the SLDL, and there is plenty of research to support the benefits of sensorimotor training.                                      

Dr. James Spencer,

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Snatch-Grip Barbell Back Extension with Posterior Pelvic Tilt (PPT)

Squats, deadlifts, and cleans are all fantastic barbell exercises. However, since they are all performed while standing, the glutes aren’t maximally stimulated at end-range hip extension.  This is where performing the snatch-grip barbell back extension with a posterior pelvic tilt comes into play!

The traditional back extension represents a great exercise to train the low-back and hamstrings. Just ask anyone. This exercise produces a pretty wicked low-back pump… but should that REALLY be the goal? By squeezing the GLUTES and posteriorly-tilting the pelvis at lockout instead of hyper-extending the low-back, this exercise quickly becomes an AWESOME tool to promote glute strength and hypertrophy. Additionally, by taking a grip as wide as possible, you also maximize the range of motion and hammer the upper back as well. Try this exercise to improve spinal health, upper back strength, glute function, and increase performance!

Michael Mash, Barbell Rehab and Performance


Dynamic-Isometric Cable Fly

I call this bad boy the Dynamic-Isometric Cable Fly, and as far as I know, no one else does them aside from my readers. This exercise is ultra effective because it allows a trainee to stimulate the sternal and clavicular fibers of the pectoralis major. Why waste time performing incline/flat/decline work when you can do it all with a single exercise?
 Great Exercises You Are Not Doing
To perform this movement, complete the concentric portion of a regular cable flat fly attempting to touch your elbows, not hands, together at the top of the movement. Keeping the handles and your elbows as close as possible, extend your arms all the way over head, and then all the way down to your hips (see video). Perform this full ROM Isometric exercise until failure for 3 sets of 10-15 reps at the end of your chest workout to really build up some metabolic damage. This movement also makes an ultra-effective priming movement which leads to a better connection to the chest musculature throughout the workout.

Ab Wheel Rollout

The abdominal wheel rollout is one of the biggest bang for your buck anterior core drills out there. Rarely can you find an exercise that will deliver more full body benefit that is both functional and practical. Simply attach a thin resistance band to the bottom of a stationary object like a squat rack or dumbbell shelf. From there, wrap the band around one handle and bring it out so there is tension throughout the entire movement. Engage the glutes before the rollout, and stay tight during the entirety of the exercise. If you’re unable to roll all the way out, and/or collapse your hips to the ground, it’s time for a regression like the stability ball rollout or half kneeling TRX fallout. The band will multiply the challenge of both the eccentric (the way out), and concentric (way back in) portions of the exercise when performed correctly. Great Exercises You Are Not Doing

Chad Rodgers, Show Me Strength

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Offset Racked Bulgarian Split Squat 

The BSS (or RFE Split Squat) is already a great exercise for lower body strength, and by adding the offset load, you get increased glute activation to resist the rotational component. Also, by using a rack position it increases the anterior core activation. Great Exercises You Are Not Doing

Set up with your foot elevated on a bench behind you, and hold the dumbbell in the same side hand in the rack position right by your shoulder. Control the eccentric, driving your hip back and feeling the stretch in the psoas and quad, then drive your heel into the ground and return to the top.

I like working these in towards the middle to the end of a lower body, or full body workout. Usually keep the reps in the hypertrophy range, 8-15 reps per leg, for 3-4 sets.

Michael Gorski, MGFitLife


Great Exercises You Are Not Doing