Military Muscle: Combo exercises with personality

Military Muscle: Combo exercises with personality

Ever wonder how some exercises get their names? Just for fun, try these exercises named after people. Do 10 reps using weights appropriate to your fitness level except where noted.

Mr. Spectacular

Named for a professional wrestler with the same handle, my fellow trainer and friend Rob Shaul saw him wrestle in Salt Lake City and after talking to him came up with this excellent total-body workout:

Choose two dumbbells or kettlebells of a weight appropriate to your fitness level.

Starting with the weights on the floor, execute a clean and press, and return weights to the floor.

Leaving the weights in place, hand-walk out to pushup position.

Do a pushup.

Hand-walk back to the weights.

Repeat the entire movement.

Paloff Press

This one was designed by John Paloff, a practicing physical therapist and certified strength and conditioning specialist who works with athletes of all types, including those at the Olympic and professional level.

Using a cable machine, grasp a single handle at chest height. Start with a weight lighter than you normally would choose so you can master the technique.

Standing with the machine to one side, step away from it approximately the distance of your outstretched arm. The cable will run laterally across your chest.

With knees slightly bent, push your arms straight out from your chest and hold for a five-count. Stand straight as the cable will try to pull you back toward the machine. Your obliques and the rest of the your side facing the weight machine are required to hold you in place. Do five reps facing each direction.

Progress using the following modifications:

1. Establish the start distance from the machine, extend your arms, then take three or four lateral steps away from the machine. Return to the start distance. Five reps in each direction.

2. Establish the start distance, go into a split squat with one knee touching the ground, then extend your arms out from your chest. Hold for a five-count. Five reps in each direction.

3. Position the cable handle at the top of the weight machine, creating a down-angle from the handle to you. Turn so that your back is to the cable, and step out to the established start distance. Raise your arms above your head and hold for a five-count. Do five reps. Repeat while facing the cable.

Gironda Sissy Squat

Vince Gironda, nicknamed the “Iron Guru,” was an early proponent of what we now call the minimalist gym. Starting in the 1950s and hitting his peak from the ’60s to the early ’80s, he was trainer to many movie and bodybuilding stars such as Clint Eastwood, Denzel Washington, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno of “Incredible Hulk” fame. An opponent of the back squat since he felt it gave too much emphasis to the glutes, he designed the “Sissy Squat,” which he said was much more targeted to thigh development. He died in 1997. This modified version uses a strap for balance. Use all three stances — close, medium and wide — to get a full thigh workout. Start with five reps and work up to 10.

Attach a two-foot-long strap to a bar about chest high.

Hold the strap with both hands and recline until you’re at arm’s length, supporting your body with your arms and the strap at about a 45-degree angle.

Inhale and squat, but rise up on your toes and push your hips forward as you continue to lower your body. Your knees will bend past 90 degrees when your thighs and trunk form a line. Your back will be somewhat arched.

Slowly return to the starting position.

Curtis P

Another exercise named by Rob Shaul in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, this is an exercise that can stand on its own — do 100 reps if so — or be part of a circuit workout. I prefer to use it as part of a circuit with multiple rounds. For the client level that executes this — who are at least at an intermediate level — I set the weight at 55 percent to 60 percent of body weight, 10 reps per round.

Start with the weight bar just above your knees and perform a hang squat clean — lower the weight bar to just below your knees, then explosively pull the bar up to chest level and squat at the same time. (Shown above, but look for a video online if you’re unfamiliar.)

Rise to standing position and perform a lunge on each leg.

After completing the lunges, perform a shoulder push press — you can squat slightly and use your entire body as well as your arms to push the bar over your head.

Return to the start position and repeat.

Retired Navy Cmdr. Bob Thomas

Retired Navy Cmdr. Bob Thomas has been our Military Muscle columnist since 2007. He’s the director of the Navy Wellness Center in Pensacola, Fla. He’s his base’s lead trainer, a wounded warrior program facilitator and the Navy nutrition counselor there. His special emphasis is on fitness for the military retired population.

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