Ask anyone who’s been in the iron game that’s had any type of success and they’ll tell you, “stick to the basics and don’t try and reinvent the wheel.” I couldn’t agree more from a coach/competitor stand point. However, one needs to throw a wrench in their workouts in order to prevent or break through plateaus. Variation is a universal principle that, when applied correctly, can yield incredible results.
One of the most obvious and easiest ways to add variation is to incorporate different exercises to one’s program. The following is a list of exercises I have rarely seen used, but recommend in this first installment.
Smith machine ladder push-ups
A chest exercise most often used as a finishing exercise can be used toward the beginning of your program with the proper adjustments. For those who can perform push-ups easily and require more resistance, this can be accomplished by adding chains around your neck, putting a box or bench under your feet, and/or using tempo. Conversely, if performing push-ups is difficult, especially toward the end of the workout, start at a higher level on the smith machine.
One set is going to consist of three subsets, which essentially are drop sets. The higher you place the bar the lighter the load.
Start the exercise in a position where positive failure is achieved between eight and 12 reps. Notice the straight line from the shoulders to the hips to the feet. Try to maintain this position as much as possible throughout the exercise.
Raise the bar one level, and perform the second part of the set. The goal is to achieve six to eight reps to positive failure. If the load is too heavy to achieve the desired reps, go up two levels the next time.