Brute Strength Program: Exercises

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The March issue of FLEX launched the Brute Strength Program. Here is a guide to proper exercise form for all the movements included in the Brute Strength Program.

While performing these exercises, inhale during the negative phase and exhale during the positive. Note that, depending on the exercise, the negative phase may precede the positive and vice versa.

PUSH WORKOUTS

Bench Press
Start
Lie on a bench and position your body so that the bar is directly above your eyes. Grasp the bar, spacing your hands about six inches beyond each shoulder. Lift the bar from the uprights (preferably with the help of a spotter) and move it to a point above the centerline of your chest.

Negative phase
Lower the bar in a controlled manner until it touches your upper chest.

Positive phase
Without bouncing the bar, raise it at a slightly quicker pace than that used during the negative phase. Don't lock out your elbows.

Incline Dumbbell Press
Start
Rest a pair of dumbbells on your knees while sitting on an incline bench. Hoist the dumbbells to your shoulders while leaning back into the bench. You may require assistance getting heavier dumbbells into position.

Positive phase
Push the dumbbells upward in a straight line to a point just short of elbow lockout. Do not bang the dumbbells together at the top of the movement. Instead, keep the spacing between them consistent throughout.

Negative phase
Lower the dumbbells along the same line, going as low as you can without feeling joint discomfort.

Shoulder Press
Start
Sit on an Olympic shoulder-press bench (or on a bench with back support in a squat rack). With the bar positioned in front of you, take a grip that's slightly beyond shoulder width and remove the barbell from the rack.

Positive phase
Push the barbell up over your head without locking out your elbows.

Negative phase
Lower the barbell along the same path, stopping before it reaches the top of your sternum.

Upright Row
Start
Grasp a barbell, spacing your hands slightly narrower than shoulder width. You may adjust hand spacing according to your specific level of wrist and shoulder mobility.

Positive phase
Raise the bar upward, keeping it close to your torso, until it reaches shoulder level.

Negative phase
Lower the barbell along the same path in a controlled manner.

Lying Triceps Extension
Start
Rest a cambered barbell on your thighs while sitting on a flat bench. In one smooth motion, tip your body backward (until you're lying flat) and bring the bar toward your chest. Press the bar up and away from your chest to arms' length.

Negative phase
With upper arms rigid, lower the barbell toward your forehead, bending only at the elbows. Stop before the bar touches your head.

Positive phase
Push the barbell back to arms' length.

Dip
Start
Raise yourself up onto a pair of dipping bars.

Negative phase
Lower your body as far as you can without feeling stress on your shoulder joints. For most trainers, this is when the upper arms are nearly parallel with the floor.

Positive phase
Push upward using only pec and triceps strength. Do not resort to kicking for added momentum. Keep your elbows close to your body to stress your triceps; pointing your elbows out stresses your pecs more.

Hanging Leg Raise
Start
Hang from a chinup bar, spacing your hands at shoulder width.

Positive phase
Bending your knees slightly, raise your feet as high as you can. Don't swing your legs.

Negative phase
Slowly return to the start position. Again, do not swing.

LOWER-BODY WORKOUTS

Squat
Start
Position yourself under a bar in a safety rack or squat rack so that the bar rests comfortably on your shoulders and traps. Walk backward a few steps away from the bar supports and plant your feet firmly, approximately shoulder width apart and with toes pointing out slightly.

Negative phase
Inhaling, lower yourself while keeping your back straight and vision focused ahead. Try to pinch your scapulae back to help ensure an upright posture. Squat to a point slightly below where your thighs are parallel with the floor. Pause for a split second.

Positive phase
While exhaling forcefully, explode up without using momentum as an assist. Make sure your back is kept straight and your visual focus never drops below eye level.

Leg Press
Start
Sit in a leg press station and place your feet on the platform according to your needs. Closer foot spacing stresses outer thighs, wider spacing focuses on inner thighs. Placing your feet higher on the platform targets hams and glutes, placing them lower hits the teardrops on the front of the quads.

Negative phase
Release the support pins and hold onto the seat handles. Lower the platform toward you, going as far as you can without raising your hips off the seat. Pause for a moment at the bottom.

Positive phase
Push the weight away, making sure that your knees follow a straight path and do not wobble.

Leg Extension
Start
Sit in a leg extension machine and hook your feet under the extension pads.

Positive phase
Holding the seat handles, extend your legs (pressing against the pads) until they are straight. Squeeze and hold the top position for a count of one.

Negative phase
Slowly lower the weight while keeping constant tension on your quads. Do not return the weight stack to its resting position until you complete all the reps in a set.

Leg Curl
Start
Lie face-down on a leg curl machine with the curl pads positioned behind your ankles.

Positive phase
Holding the handles, contract your legs by bending them at the knee, while keeping your hips against the bench.

Negative phase
Slowly lower the weight while keeping constant tension on your hamstrings. Do not return the weight stack to its resting position until you complete all the reps in a set.

Standing Calf Raise
Start
Enter into a standing calf machine, making sure that the shoulder pads are at least six inches below your shoulder height.

Positive phase
Holding the handles, push up against the pads by rising up on your toes. Squeeze your calves at the top of the movement.

Negative phase
Slowly lower yourself while keeping your calves tight. Stretch your calves at the bottom before returning to the top position.

PULL WORKOUTS

Deadlift
Start
Stand with your feet about 24" apart facing a barbell on the floor. Bending at your knees and hips, grasp the bar. Use a deadlift grip (i.e., one side overhand, the other underhand), with your hands spaced slightly wider than your feet. Keep your back flat.

Positive phase
As you raise the weight, keep your back straight and focus on driving your heels through the floor. At the top of the movement, you should be standing erect with your knees unlocked. Pause for one second.

Negative phase
Return the weight along the same path through which you lifted it, but don't let it touch the floor until the set is complete.

Chinup
Start
With your hands spaced slightly beyond your shoulders, hang from a chinup bar.

Positive phase
Pull yourself up until your chin meets the bar. Do not kick or use body motion to assist in lifting yourself.

Negative phase
Lower yourself along the same path until you are hanging at the bottom of the movement. Allow your lats to stretch at the bottom.

Barbell Row
Start
Stand facing a barbell on the floor. Bend at your hips, knees slightly bent. Using a grip slightly beyond shoulder width, pick up the barbell. Raise your torso a few degrees so that the bar does not touch the floor when it's resting at arms' length.

Positive phase
Bring the barbell up to the lower part of your sternum, just below your chest. Do not jerk the weight.

Negative phase
Lower the weight, making sure to stretch out your lats at the bottom of the movement.

Pulldown
Start
Take a medium-wide grip (about six inches beyond each shoulder) on a lat pulldown bar. Lower yourself into the seat, securely bracing your thighs under the cross supports.

Positive phase
With shoulders back and chest up, pull the bar to the front of your neck and contract your lats.

Negative phase
Control the weight stack as you lower it, making sure to feel a stretch in your lats at the top of the movement.

Standing Curl
Start
Pick up either a straight or a cambered barbell with a palms-up grip. Your hands should be spaced at shoulder width.

Positive phase
Moving only your lower arms, curl the bar up to your shoulders without leaning backward for assistance. Squeeze and contract your biceps at the top of the movement.

Negative phase
Lower the weight again, keeping tension in the biceps at all times.

Preacher Curl
Start
Sit on a preacher curl bench with the seat adjusted so that your upper arms rest comfortably on the arm pad. Lift the barbell off its support.

Positive phase
Curl the bar up, stopping when your forearms are perpendicular to the floor. Flex your biceps for a count of one at the top.

Negative phase
Lower the weight along the same path, keeping tension in the biceps at all times and stopping just before elbow lockout.

Standing Cable Crunch
Start
Attach a rope to a high pulley station. Grasping both ends of the rope, take a step backward.

Positive phase
Curl your body forward, using only your midsection, not your hips, to lower yourself. Let your hands rest against both sides of your head at ear level.

Negative phase
Raise your torso, keeping tension on the abdominal region at all times and stopping before the weight stack returns to its resting position.

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