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How NOT to get bored in the gym – Part 2

May 28, 2010

Yesterday I detailed a few (more than a few) changes you can make to your workouts for chest, back and shoulders. Things like varying…

  • the equipment you choose–eg, BBs, DBs, cables or machines
  • your bench– eg, flat bench, incline bench
  • your position–eg, seated vs. standing
  • your grips–eg, using an underhand grip instead of an overhand grip when doing pulldowns or BB rows for back

All these things will keep your workouts FRESH, which is critical in keeping you interested in coming to the gym.

Let’s continue with a few of my tricks for keeping workouts fun and interesting!


BICEPS: I usually go for at least one exercise with DBs and one with a BB.

I often, but not always, do a 3rd exercise–which is usually whatever I spot when I look around the gym that (a) I haven’t done in a while, (b) doesn’t require elaborate setup and (c) doesn’t put me in the middle of a gaggle of other people.

DB exercises:  Choose from standing or seated alternating DB curls. OR, standing or seated hammer curls.

If I do more than one DB exercise in a workout (entirely possible), I’ll switch it up. Say, seated alternating DB curls (palms face up), plus standing simultaneous DB hammer curls (palms face your torso).

TIP: For an intense burn on the biceps, occasionally perform seated DB curls on an incline bench. You’ll have to go lighter, though! The stretch you feel in your biceps will be similar to what you feel when you perform BB curls with your elbows behind your torso (see below).

BB versions: Use a fixed bar, an EZ-curl bar, or, if you’re strong, a regular Olympic bar, which weighs 45 lbs.

You can assume 2 different positions on BB curls.

  1. Most people perform them with their elbows tucked at the sides of the  torso.
  2. BUT, you can also shift your elbows slightly behind your torso. This puts you into position for what bodybuilders call a “drag curl.” The bar comes up in line with your body and close to the front of your torso. It’s a different angle, and, so, attacks the muscle differently. 

When using a bar, vary your grip. You can select an EZ curl bar one day, a straight bar another day. And on that straight bar, you can move your hands from considerably outside shoulder width, to just outside shoulder width, to just inside shoulder width. 

Other options: Try cable curls using a bar to work both arms simultaneously OR metal D-handles or soft handles to work one arm at a time. Or, use the rope attachment to get some hammer curls (palms facing) in.

You can even do “superman curls,” where you stand in the middle of a cable crossover machine with attachments at the top of both sides and curl your arms inwards as though doing a “front double biceps” pose. On this, bring your pinkies towards your ears, which give you a nice little supination action to intensify the contraction on the biceps.

Still more: Preacher bench curls, using either a fixed bar or DBs or, if you don’t mind setting up for it, cables. Concentration curls (seated, on a bench OR standing, with one arm resting on the back of an incline bench set at upright). Machine curls. Functional machine cable curls, either facing towards or away from the machine.

You can really go wild here. So don’t get stuck in a rut when training biceps!

TRICEPS: I usually go for 2 overhead movements, plus 1 “pressdown” movement. This way, both the long and short heads of the muscle get worked!

Overhead movements: Skullcrushers (the EZ curl bar is gentler on your wrists); overhead DB extensions (AKA French presses); overhead rope triceps extensions.

Pressdown movements: Bench dips, dip machines, straight or V-bar pressdowns at a cable station

Other options: close-grip pushups, close-grip bench presses, DB or cable kickbacks

This is a lot for you to think about, right?

So I’ve decided to break this down and add a Part 3, which will address what you can do for legs, calves and abs.

Please–think of this as a hobby! Keep it interesting and fun!

After all, you wouldn’t stop at one simple stitch if you were learning needlework or knitting, would you?

You wouldn’t plant only one type of flower in your garden! 

Or stop at trying only one recipe!


Think of these exercise variations as recipes for your muscles.

Change them up and you vary the ways you stimulate your muscles–which is good for growth and good for keeping your workouts fun and fresh!

Flickr photos, top to bottom, edikeskin, Odannysgirl, <christine>, Coconut Recipes

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