Nowadays, we have access to state-of-art gyms with cutting-edge technology. We can log our workouts on the go, learn new bodybuilding exercises with the touch of a button, and share our progress online in real time. Yet, we cannot forget the golden era of bodybuilding. Many of us would do just about everything to turn back the clock and return to those glory days for at least a day.
Famous bodybuilders like Lou Ferrigno, Frank Zane, and Arnold Schwarzenegger haven’t had access to fancy gym machines and smartwatches. They were training with real weights and coming up with new workout ideas on their own. Some have even started their careers in a garage or neighborhood gym.
Without a doubt, these gods of bodybuilding looked amazing – even better than today’s athletes. Why not use their routines for inspiration? Classic exercises, such as the vacuum, breathing pullovers, and pinch-grip deadlifts, can transform your body and take your workouts to the next level. The key is to consistently increase work capacity and train like a real athlete.
Ready to give it a try? Here are seven forgotten bodybuilding exercises that really work:
Spider Curl (bodybuilding exercises)
Larry Scott’s favorite biceps exercise increases arm strength and size. This isolation movement engages the biceps and adds the definition that will make your guns look amazing this summer.
To get started, you need an EZ bar and a preacher bench. Press your chest on the bench while squeezing your pecs and abdominal muscles. Don’t let your shoulder slump too far forward when you’re lifting the barbell. Also, do not carve over the bench. These mistakes may lead to injury.
Ask someone to hand you the bar. Slowly lift it up into the air while keeping your upper arms perpendicular to the floor. Squeeze your biceps at the top of the movement and hold the contraction for a second or two. Lower the barbell back to starting position and repeat.
When doing this exercise, keep your feet grounded on the floor. Use dumbbells if it’s easier for you. This movement is so effective because it works both the inside and the peak of your biceps. Its name comes from the first incline bench, which had eight legs — just like a spider.
Platz Hack Squats
If you want huge quads, this old-school exercise should be on your list. Named after the famous bodybuilder Tom Platz, it’s an advanced variation of the hack squat. Compared to the standard version, it targets both the outer and lower quad.
To do this exercise, you’ll need a hack squat machine. Keep your feet together, with your toes pointed outwards. Perform the hack squat as usual, but lift your heels off the ground. This way, you’ll target the outer quad a lot better.
Do not rotate your torso or push your knees to the side. Also, pay attention to the position of your feet. Refrain from transferring your weight to the medium or inner part of the foot. Your back should stay flat all the time. Use a slow, controlled motion to prevent injuries. This movement is technically difficult and can be dangerous if done with poor form.
The Bradford press is one of the best yet overlooked shoulder exercises out there. It not only stimulates hypertrophy but also increases shoulder mobility and stability. At the same time, it boosts upper body strength and core development.
Do this exercise at home or in the gym. If you’re planning to lift heavier weights, use a squat rack. Place the bar at shoulder level, extend your elbows to press it overhead, and lower it down to the back of your head. Raise the bar over your head and return to the starting position. Do not lock your elbows throughout the movement.
This exercise puts constant tension on your shoulders, leading to muscle and strength gains. Because of this, it’s not recommended to use heavy weights. The constant tension increases injury risk. If you lift 200 pounds on the military press, stick to 100-120 pounds for this movement.
For best results, use a slow, controlled motion and do as many as reps as necessary to reach muscle failure.
Bodyweight Chest Dips
The bodyweight chest dip was one of the most popular exercises during the golden era of bodybuilders. Some folks are still doing it today, but most of them prefer the gym machines.
This isolation movement hit your pecs from every angle. It also engages the triceps and deep core muscles, building upper body strength. In the long run, it will improve your ability to perform more complex exercises and lift heavier weights.
Ready to try one of the best bodybuilding exercises out there? Head over to a dip station. Take the right position, with your torso and legs forward. Hand width should be medium to wide. Keep your head neutral.
Grab the bars, squeeze your core muscles, and lower yourself slowly until your shoulders are below the elbows. At this point, your torsi should be leaning forward around 30 degrees.
Squeeze your glutes to maintain proper form. Keep the elbows close to your body. Lift yourself back up by extending your arms. Repeat.
To get the most out of this exercise, focus on the negative part. Hold the contraction for two or three seconds and use a slow motion. If you’re a beginner, simply jump up and extend your arms. As you get stronger, do the reps at a slower pace.
The Zercher squat is one of those forgotten bodybuilding exercises that should be on everyone’s to-do list. It’s named after strongman Ed Zecher, and has been around since the 1930s.
This squat variation targets the quads. It also works the glutes, calves, hamstrings, core, and arms, but to a lesser extent. Since it requires increased stability and balance, it’s suitable for advanced lifters. However, newbies can do it too with an empty bar.
With regular practice, the Zercher squat will increase glute and quad strength, shape your core, build the traps, and improve your front squat. Your biceps will get a great workout too!
To get started, hold a barbell n the crook of your elbows. Place your hands on the chest and bring them together slightly below the chest. The bar should rest on top of your forearms.
Lower your body slowly, with your feet shoulder-width apart and the toes pointed out. Keep your head up and your back straight. Squat down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Next, return to the initial position by pushing up through your heels.
Watch your form at all times. Tighten your abs and glutes for proper support. Do not arch your back or curl your toes. This exercise carries a high risk of injury, so maintaining good form is crucial.
Flat Dumbbell Fly
Most folks nowadays perform the dumbbell fly on an incline bench. Arnold used to do this exercise on a flat bench due to the longer range of motion. He lowered the dumbbells as far as possible — until his elbows almost touched the ground. This technique allows for greater muscle activation and increased blood flow to the pecs.
This exercise requires a flat bench and two dumbbells. Lie on the bench with your feet flat on the floor. Grab the dumbbells, extend your arms, and then lower the weights to your sides as far as you can. Use your pecs to control the movement.
Return to the starting position and repeat. Your arms should remain stationary. For maximum muscle activation, hold the contraction for a second or two at the top of the movement. Keep a slight bend in your elbows.
The Stomach Vacuum
Touted as one of the best exercises for a smaller waist, the stomach vacuum can transform your body in as little as three weeks. This classic technique was used by Frank Zane, Arnold, Ronnie Coleman, and other bodybuilders who were known for their tight midsection. It not only sculpts your waist but also helps improve your posture, increases lung capacity, and builds core strength.
This exercise can be done from a seated or standing position depending on your preferences. The supine vacuum, for instance, involves lying on your back with your knees and hips flexed. Exhale as much air as you can, pull your navel in, and maintain this position for at least 15 seconds. As you progress, aim for one minute or more.
Perform three to five sets. Do it every day or every other day to get into a routine. Once you learn the basics, try the quadruped variation. This time, you’ll stand on your hands and knees. Later, experiment with the seated vacuum, which is the most difficult variation. Better yet, stand on a Swiss ball to make it more challenging.
Now you have it – a full list of forgotten bodybuilding exercises that will take your physique to a whole new level. Incorporate them into your workouts to keep your routine varied and speed up your progress. If you’ve never tried them before, start with low to medium weights and learn proper form. Be consistent and the results will follow.