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Health and Fitness Tips

Growth in the Gym

Remember how difficult it was to learn an exercise for the first time? Whether it was squats or bench presses, the bar was probably moving in a somewhat jerky motion, and your limbs were likely a bit wobbly from the new movement. But that was then; you've probably mastered most of the best body-sculpted exercises and are the picture perfect form at your gym.

Let's shake things up a bit by introducing a totally new way to complete tried-and-true movements. The result is a shock to the system that can propel your body to new levels of physical strength development.
These modifications to your routine can help build more muscle.

Using chains in the gym is a great way to grow. Although it'll make you a bit conspicuous, this dynamic chains technique can help you make great strides in your training. The quantity of muscles affected in these multi-joint movements will also save you time in the gym. The effect on the entire core is something you need to experience to believe. You'll appreciate it a day or two afterward, judging by the post-workout soreness.

Let's Get Started
At the gym, lower the bar on the Smith Machine to the third notch. You want it high enough that you'll hover just above the floor, but not drag your knuckles on it. Drape the chains over it and adjust them so that equal halves hang on either side of the bar. Clip the carabiners to the ends and the handles. You should be looking at two handles hanging from chains at the same depth.

Stand before the bar and hold your arms at a natural push-up angle. Remember that proper elbow flexion for a chest push-up is 90 degrees. Adjust the chains so they're as wide as the space between your hands. This angle is important; too wide and you'll flounder to stay up, too narrow and your triceps will be awkwardly emphasized, and the movement will feel very unnatural.

First, core stability is everything. Keep your abs tight and don't let your back sag. Start on your knees if you have to. You'll feel the magic of stabilizing muscles as your hands try to shake in all directions to adapt to this new demand. Try to complete the movement in a natural, steady motion.

Push-ups can be altered in many ways to keep the body challenged. With a spotter, put your feet up on an exercise ball and continue. What you're performing is roughly the equivalent of a bench press. So to mimic an incline press, raise your feet on a support such as a flat bench. The greater the angle, the more the load shifts toward the upper chest and shoulders. On the flip side, keep your feet low but raise your upper body to perform a decline push-up for the lower chest area. Raise the bar above waist-level in this case. By now you realize not just your chest is being hit. Although you'll get a powerful burn in the pectoral region, you'll also feel these moves in your shoulders, arms, back and abs.

Other Exercises You Can Do - Besides various types of push-ups, a couple of other moves are worth a try.

Pull-ups: with your feet out in front of you and a wide grip on the chains, pull your bodyweight up. You'll activate your biceps, but to truly focus on the back - squeeze your shoulder blades together. This activates the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, trapezius and teres major muscles.

Dip: Similar to the acrobatic rings, the chains allow superior triceps development over the traditional dip. Begin with your feet in front of you on the floor and progress to your feet up on a bench, and eventually with no support at all. This is definitely an advanced exercise.

The exercises are tough, but you can have some fun with them, too. The multi-joint moves demand everything you've got. The work is hard, but the results are big.

Rick Gusler is a certified personal trainer and diet nutritionist who serves his clients through Gusler Body Sculpting Fitness Center in central Denver. To schedule a free consultation, or to learn more about the Gusler method of body sculpting, spin yoga, or Rick's Boot Camp, please contact him at 303.860.7131 or online at

Gusler Body Sculpting Fitness Center, LLC
459 Acoma Street · Denver, Colorado 80204 · 303-860-7131
Hours: Monday-Friday: 6am-8pm · Saturday: Closed · Sunday: Closed