Doomed to mediocrity is the person always looking for the easy way to do things, lifting being no exception. Then there's the guy forever in search of a better way to train. If that's your style, this article's for you. We took seven good old-fashioned exercises (one for each major muscle group) and tweaked them just enough to make each a little bit better . . . who are we kidding, we made them harder. But let's face it: The harder the exercise, the more effective it usually is. In this case, you'll be training your muscles in a different way than ever before. So bag the leg extensions and the pec-deck machine (just temporarily, mind you), and be a little hard on yourself for once.
The Standard Way: Barbell Bench Press
The Hard Way: Bench Press with limited range of motion
A. Don't let the bar touch your chest -- stop 2-3 inches before touching.
B. Stop a few inches shy of locking out your elbows.
Lie face up on a flat bench and grasp a barbell slightly wider than shoulder width. Lift the bar off the rack.
Slowly lower the bar toward your lower chest, but stop 2-3 inches short of touching. With-out pausing, press the bar upward and stop a few inches short of locking out your elbows. Repeat for reps in this limited range of motion without pausing.
Why Harder is Better:
"Exercise execution through a full range of motion (ROM) is critical for full muscle development, especially with the bench press," says M&F contributor Tim Fritz, CSCS. "However, a slight decrease in ROM promotes continuous muscle tension, resulting in enhanced pectoral and triceps development."