Working All the Angles

The little changes of small-angle training can make a big difference.


Pavel Ythjall


From narrow to sumo-style, barbell squats can be done with a variety of stances. Hack squats, Smith machine squats, and leg presses can be performed with both different stance widths and your feet positioned anywhere from under your hips to far out in front. You can arrange your toes in, out, and straight during leg extensions, leg curls, and any calf exercise.


Pulldowns and cable rows can be done with a variety of grips, from very wide to parallel and narrow. Similarly, you can also alter your grip on barbell rows from shoulder width and underhand to wide and overhand. By progressively raising a cable’s height and using a rope, you can go from a low row to a medium row to a face-pull to a pulldown. With a progressively raised Smith machine bar, you can crank out inverted rows (like lat ladders) at a sequence of angles.


From narrower than shoulder width to very wide, barbells can be pressed with a variety of grips. For dumbbell presses or yes, an adjustable incline or a decline bench can be positioned to work pecs from the uppermost edge (incline) to the lower cliff (decline). Cable crossovers can be performed from low to high and all the positions in between.


From narrow to wide, overhead barbell presses and upright rows can be done with a variety of grips. You can alter your hand position during dumbbell presses from palms forward to palms facing each other to palms facing backward. One-arm side laterals can be done leaning toward the floor, standing straight, and leaning away from the floor. While lying on an adjustable bench set in many positions, you can perform front raises. Shrugs can be done with two low cables held behind your back, straight down, and in front.


Pushdowns and cable triceps extensions can be subtly changed each set from an underhand grip with a straight bar to overhand grips with a variety of bars or a rope.


Barbell curls can be altered from a very narrow grip to a very wide grip with multiple stops in between. You can also change the angle of curls. For example, go from a 45-degree preacher curl to a Scott curl to a regular curl.


Do crunches, situps, and leg raises on an adjustable incline bench set in any position from highest to lowest.


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