Bodybuilding coach Eugene Teo regularly shares advice on how to safely build strength and muscle while avoiding injury, and in a recent video on his channel he breaks down what he feels to be some of the most “underrated” exercises that you should try incorporating into your next workout. These include exercises that people don’t prioritize or simply don’t do at all, as well as some different variations on more common movements.
Underhand grip bench press
“Apart from feeling a little bit strange at first through the hands and the wrists, the real reason why we do this is to create a narrower elbow path,” explains Teo. “Anatomically, this might be a better position for your chest muscles to have better leverage over your arm… What this means is your chest muscles can get a better stretch and work more effectively.”
High cable row
Teo recommends this exercise specifically for the way it lines up your back muscles in comparison to a traditional cable row. “Most people think of either vertical or horizontal pulling, but I believe diagonal pulls are extremely underrated,” he says.
Often used as an activation or rehab exercise, this targets the adductors, which are often an overlooked muscle group in lower-body workouts, but play an important supporting role in moves like the deadlift. Teo favors this plank variation as it can be done either as a static or dynamic exercise.
“While most people probably are doing leg presses, I think they get pushed aside a lot for free weight exercises like barbell squats,” says Teo. “Leg presses are one of the most valuable ways to gain a lot of lower body strength and to push your legs to completely different limits than you can probably ever achieve with squats.”
Pulldowns are a fairly common exercise, but it’s the rope component here that Teo believes is a real game-changer. “It allows you to customize your grip and find more comfortable positions than a fixed bar may provide,” he says, “and allows you to create this outwards force as you pull down… this can help coordinate arm and upper back muscles to work together.”
Again, the split squat is probably already a part of your leg day routine, but it’s more frequently used as an accessory exercise than as one of the “meat and potato” movements. But as Teo points out, there are unique benefits to the split squat, such as how it challenges your rotation at the hip, forcing you to to train for stablity and mobility as well as strength.
“The hyperextension literally is just a stiff-legged deadlift that’s been rotated forwards 45 degrees or so,” says Teo. “This means it can be categorized with the same priority you might give a deadlift, and really hammer your posterior chain.”
Prone Y raise
“One extra challenge here is to not just do them on an incline or standing upright, but laying flat or as close to flat as possible. This will really challenge the upper back and shoulder muscles in their fully shortened position, which is notoriously very weak and undertrained,” says Teo, who recommends using lighter weights for this one.
Sure, this is a staple bodyweight exercise, but Teo includes it in this list because he believes it has one unique benefit over other movements: it gives you more freedom at the shoulderblades to work the serratus anterior, which is crucial for shoulder function and mobility.
“This is a super simple and accessible way to introduce some loaded stretching for the shoulders and back muscles into your workouts,” says Teo. “You can work with different amounts of assistance or progression, and even add weight. You can use it for grip strength or flexibility training with the use of straps, and these are simply one of my absolute favorite ways to both start and finish a workout to get me feeling nice and loose.”
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