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Exercise of the Week(ish) – Front Bulgarian Split Squats

17 Apr

Ever since my show, and the diet aggravated hip injury that refuses to go away completely, I’ve started to utilize single leg movements into my training more often.  Bulgarian split squats have quickly become one of my favorite exercises, and I’ve spent a bit of time trying different ways of performing them to find a variation that I consistently enjoy.  This past week I decided to try loading the exercise like a traditional front squat, and BOOM, exercise infatuation.

side note: I hate the music at my gym

A couple of tips if you want to try these out.  I’m a big advocate of using lifting straps to do front squats(Check this out if you have questions on how that’s done), and for this I think it’s even more important.  Like most single-leg exercises, these are a bit unstable, and the straps can give you a more solid grip on the bar.  Second, pay careful attention to your foot positioning.  With the bar out front looking down at the ground is difficult, and consequently it’s pretty hard to get your feet in the right place when you switch legs.  You’ll notice that I had to reset my feet after my first rep on my second leg.  This isn’t an uncommon issue, and discovering a reliable way to orient yourself mid-set will help keep that to a minimum.

Three Things I Like About Front Bulgarian Split Squats

  1. Vertical back angle.  Bulgarian split squats are normally performed with a nearly vertical back angle, and the front bar position emphasizes that even more.  This takes stress off my lower back, which means I can do more and heavier deadlifts without fatigue issues.
  2. These torch my quads.  The combination of a vertical back angle and a high degree of knee flexion is great for emphasizing quad recruitment, and mine definitely need the work.
  3. They don’t require extremely heavy loading to be hard.  Anyone who routinely puts several hundred pounds across their backs or in their hands will tell you how exhausting it is, and conserving energy on quad allows me to…. wait for it…. do more and heavier deadlifts.

Exercise of the Week(ish) – Turkish Get Up

1 Apr

So I think I’m going to use this blog as an opportunity to highlight an exercise I really enjoy every week or so.  Sometimes I’ll include tips on performing the movement, other times I’ll just write a love letter to a particular corner of the exercise world.  This post definitely falls into the latter category.

It should surprise no one that the first exercise I’ve chosen to talk about is the turkish get up.  Not only is it my favorite exercise, but I try and perform some version of it every day that I’m in the gym.  So why do I love this bizarre looking, at least to the uninitiated, exercise?  Here’s the top 4 reasons.

  1. It’s really good for my shoulder health.  Due to swinging a sledgehammer for a couple summers in college, a history of borderline overtraining, and what might be charitably characterized as being a fucking moron, my shoulders are significantly beat up.  While at first glance get ups may look prone to causing shoulder injuries, as long as you don’t fail a rep in a really ugly way stabilizing your shoulder through the full range of motion is a great way to strengthen all the muscles of the shoulder girdle and prevent injuries during other activities.
  2. TGUs can be an extremely effective conditioning tool.  I do not enjoy traditional cardio.  I straight up hate it.  Even some sort of HIIT cardio just makes me miserable, and I don’t get the same endorphin rush I get from lifting.  However, a 12-16 rep set of TGUs leaves me equally as exhausted and out of breath as sprinting, and I feel like my muscles have actully done something significant.
  3. TGUs, when performed correctly, hit nearly every muscle in your body.  Triceps, abdominals, obliques, hips, quads, the entire shoulder girdle, none of them lie dormant, and many of them can be subjected to near-maximal loads.
  4. Performing a get up with a heavy weight, or an unwieldy implement, is impressive as all fuck.  It’s also one of the few exercises where people who are familiar with the movement still find it as impressive as those who have yet to be introduced to it.  And let’s be honest, looking impressive as all fuck comprises a minimum of 50% of why I go to the gym.  Here’s an example of what I mean when I said “unwieldy implement” up above, this is also my favorite party trick.