Weird Gym Stuff – Explained!

My clients are very patient.  They listen to me as I describe the exercises they’re about to do, nodding their dear heads as they silently curse both my existence and their choice to hire me, and most of the time finish by doing the exact thing I just described. 

Most of the time.

There are times when even the best of clients is thrown for a loop, or simply has to break down into giggles for how ridiculously named (or how ridiculous-looking) a certain exercise is.  I figured in the name of both celebrating the ridiculous and decoding some of the more confusing elements/exercises in the gym, I could give you guys an idea of what trips up a lot of folks about working out – and maybe offer up some new ideas along the way.

First off, we have the Roman Chair.  Neither Roman nor a chair, this thing, but it is one of the most underutilized machines in the gym – especially given the proportion of people I see that complain about lower back pain.  It is the single most effective lower back strengthening apparatus you can use, and the options are endless – add weight, add an upper back row (weighted or not), stretch to the side, flip it over and hit extension-crunches – this is the machine that keeps on giving even though it’s too often neglected in most people’s routines.

Next up is the Bulgarian Split Squat – an actual exercise, characterized by elevating the back leg and dropping into a deep lunge position.  Did it originate in Bulgaria?  Don’t know; surely don’t care.  But what I do know is that it makes your glutes pop like two fresh biscuits and gives you a bonus groin stretch to boot.  Gold medal for Bulgaria; bravo.

One that always gets a giggle from even the most straitlaced clients is the Hello Darling, which is the actual and literal name for an abdominal and abductor combo move in which you lie flat on your back, lower your legs until they’re hovering above the floor, then open as wide as you can into a straddle position.  Yep.  I think the name says it all in this case (and yes, I did have to find a picture of a male doing this exercise).

A gym standby is the Smith Machine, named for the person who stole it from Jack LaLanne and made a bunch of money off the idea.  There are definitely strong opinions about the utility of the Smith; I use it with clients not only because it ensures perfect form on squats and lunges, but because it can be used for pullup training (called body rows, as shown in the photo), pushups, presses, and even as a stabilized bench when you don’t have a spotter.  Genius.

Finally, how could we forget about the godfather of all things bodybuilding – Arnold Schwarzenegger?  Did you know that he has a “trademark” move that is world renowned, despite its relative simplicity?  Yes indeed – it’s called the Arnold Press, and it makes even the simplest shoulder press variation feel super strong and badass.  Just rotate on the way up and BAM – you’re Arnold pressing, sister sledge.

Whether or not you like to try new things in the gym, the fact is that variation within your workouts has been shown to maximize results.  Get over the odd-named machines and exercises in the gym and try something new this week!

Do you have any “gym mysteries” you need solved?  What is your favorite odd-named exercise?

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