The Other Presses

Image via Thinkstock
Image via Thinkstock

Some less-popular exercises to help keep your summer body the way you like it

By Jamal Al-Bayaa, Staff Writer

Summer is a time of preparation and perspiration for athletes in the off-season, and students are looking to build stronger and leaner bodies. Hiking trails open up, parks become instantly more agreeable, and the squat racks at the gym become considerably more available, so long as you’re not trying to go after 5 p.m. So the Other Press is going to take advantage of that availability and energy with nothing but a squat rack, pull up bar, and good running shoes.

We’ve picked out three different exercises that are variants on the generically-used workouts, with a focus on fun and novel exercises for the gym, or at home. Individually, these workouts are great. We’ve picked one for each type of person. Tie them all together and you also have a quick but versatile workout. To really learn the techniques for each, a quick YouTube search will get you good results. So instead we’ll leave that to the pros, and go over what workouts you should try this summer and why.


1) For the powerhouse: The Front Squat

Front squatting is one of the least done moves in the gym. I’ve only seen it done a handful of times, and all by the same three or four people. Front squats are one of the few exercises that hit your whole leg. They load your hamstrings (back leg) on the way down, and fire your quads (front) on the way up. That hamstring is a very difficult muscle to hit without special equipment or a deadlift, which isn’t for everybody.


2) For the sloth: Active Hangs
Imagine a pull-up in which your arms stay perfectly straight and only your shoulders move up and down. Face your palms away from your body. There, you now know how to do an active hang. Active hangs are great for shoulder mobility, flexibility, and injury prevention. They strengthen your straightened arm (which almost no general gym workout does) and prepare you for greater mobility challenges like swinging from one bar to the next—which could save your life one day. Developed, or at least popularized, by the famous movement coach Ido Portal, active hangs are a great way to use a pull-up bar for something other than the average pull-up. Continued use can see strengthened shoulders as well as necks, which is incredibly useful for anyone who is seated a lot of the time or looking at phones and computers. I often crack my neck out of habit, and I find this workout very useful in reducing that tendency.


3) For the competitor: Sprints

No one seems to do sprints! They’re muscle-building, fat-cutting, and heart-strengthening beasts of that get neglected because they require maximum effort. Sprints are another workout that really hit those hard to reach hamstrings, but they also work the entire body through the swinging motion of the arms and the intensity of the training. Hills make these workouts even better, but starting out with hill sprints isn’t generally a good idea for beginners. Best practice would be to go for runs and incorporate short sprints into your longer runs. And if you don’t run, best way to start that is to go for walks and throw some shorter jogs into your longer walks.