Four Double Duty Exercises

Work More with Fewer Moves

I wanted to discuss this topic because I am often asked why I don’t dedicate a specific day in the gym to only training chest, abs or biceps. There is a method to this madness, I promise!

Strong vs. Weak Points

You know your body best. What muscles are poppin’ when you take a selfie? If you have killer delts but weak glutes, I’ll bet most of your Instagram photos are of your shoulder pump after a delt workout rather than your glutes.

All you need to do to determine your strong versus weak points is evaluate your physique and make a list separating your strong muscle groups (muscular strength and size) from your weaker muscle groups (weaker in strength and size).

My list would look something like this:

Delts, biceps, triceps, abs, chest, hamstrings, calves

Back, quads, glutes

Once you have your list, you can build your weekly split in the gym to work more often on your weaker points while maintaining your strong points. This is when the “double duty” comes in. Now, of course, combining muscle groups during one workout is one way to accomplish this— and you can read more about pairing muscle groups together to build a split in my article here. But what I want you to learn from this article is how several exercises can actually be “sneaky” and work a completely different muscle group in addition to the primary one you’re working!

Bench Press for Back Muscles

Bench Press for Back Muscles

Normally, we perform bench press for chest as your chest muscles are the primary mover during this exercise. When you press the weight up, your chest muscles are doing the work. When you lower the weight back down, though, what is working? Your back muscles actually act as the “brakes” during this portion of the repetition. I love this because my back is a weaker muscle group for me so I get to “sneak in” some back work while I am performing bench press on an upper body day! Score.

Parallel Bar Dips for Chest

Everyone goes straight to dips on triceps day, but what they don’t know is just how much it can benefit your chest! Here’s how to adjust the move to make your chest a primary mover during this exercise:

• From the parallel bars, bend your knees so your feet are behind your torso. Your grip should be just behind your hips (instead of directly to the sides of your torso). This will allow you to lean forward a bit, as leaning forward is necessary to target your chest.
• Lower your body slowly by bending your elbows with control.
• Stop when your shoulders are level with your elbows (or just above, depending on your shoulder flexibility and health) and then slowly raise yourself back up to the starting position.

Make sure to maintain the forward-leaning position throughout!

Squats for Abs

Squats for Abs

Squats, as you know, are amazing for your leg and glute development. They also have many other benefits, such as balance, strength, calorie-torching and core stability. If you could let go of the bar during your squat (do not try this) and place your hands on your abs, you would feel your entire abdomen flexing the entire movement! This is one of the main reasons I don’t need to dedicate an entire day to training abs— throughout the week your abs get SO much work during your big, compound exercises such as squats and deadlifts!

Chin-ups for Biceps

Chin-ups for Biceps

Pull-ups and chin-ups are some of the best exercises you can incorporate consistently to build a beautiful back and v-taper. By simple flipping your grip during these so that your palms are facing you, you automatically add your biceps as a secondary mover during your chin-ups. Double duty! Since my biceps are well-developed and I don’t need to dedicate an entire workout to my biceps, I do this often so that I can continue maintaining my biceps strength and size without training them directly.

Give this double duty workout a try!

Flat Bench Barbell Press
Warm-up: 2 sets x 10 reps
Working sets: 4 sets x 12-15 reps
(chest and back)

Warm-up: 2 sets x 10 reps
Working sets: 5 sets x 8-10 reps
(legs, glutes and abs)

5 sets x 5 reps
(back, biceps)

Incline Press
4 sets x 12 reps
(chest, front delts)

Parallel Bar Dips for Chest
4 sets x 12-15 reps
(chest, triceps, front delts)

Jessie Hilgenberg

Jessie is an IFBB Figure Pro, Team NLA for Her & Athlete, registered yoga instructor, health & fitness coach, bootcamp director and fitness model. Her goal is to inspire others and illustrate that a healthy lifestyle of training with intensity, staying consistent and eating clean can truly change your life!

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