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Last gains! | T nation



Most lifters spend most of their time hammering the squats and deadlifts. These are my favorites too, but it’s important to add additional work to compliment those larger, compound movements.

You will likely need to get out of the sagittal plane of motion (forward and backward) by incorporating some exercises on the frontal plane (side to side). The long-term durability of your hips and knees is improved by strengthening the smaller, less-discussed muscles like the adductors (groin muscles) in the inner thigh.

So let’s come to a few frontal plane exercises that will strengthen the forgotten muscles.

1. The Copenhagen Plank with knee drive

There is ample evidence of the benefits of this style of plank. It’s an isometric exercise that can actually target the groin area.

With this variant, your contact point is on the bench inside your mid-calf. Press down firmly on the top leg to keep it as straight as possible. The lower knee’s job is to perform an active knee drive for repetitions.

This knee powered supplement poses an even greater challenge to the upper leg groin muscles and you will feel them throughout the isometric hold.

How it goes

  • Place the mid-calf of your upper leg on the bench and keep it straight throughout the exercise.
  • Support your body on a side plank with stable shoulders.
  • Drive your lower knee up and down for repetitions.

2. The Kettlebell Copenhagen plank with knee drive

Use exactly the same setup as in the previous version. This time, however, you want to use the insole of your upper foot as the point of contact. This means you have longer leverage to deal with which increases the challenge. If that’s not enough, hold a kettlebell in the upper hand for an extra element of shoulder stability.

While this is considered an isometric exercise, make no mistake: the Copenhagen Plank is difficult to master. However, if you want healthy knees and hips, you will hardly find a better exercise to target your groin area directly. A strong bar is good for permanent knees and hips that will directly affect your overall lower body exercise performance.

Do copenhagens to keep your knees and hips healthy on your squats and deadlifts, especially if you’re a wide-stance squatter and / or a sumo deadlift.

How it goes

  • Place the insole of your upper foot on the bench, keeping your upper leg as straight as possible all the time.
  • Hold a kettlebell firmly in your upper hand as you reach towards the ceiling.
  • Support your body in a side plank with your elbow on the floor.
  • Drive your lower knee up and down for repetitions.

3. The dumbbell cup increases the side squat

Some lifters do side squats with body weight when warming up or on their rest day for mobility. While this is helpful, it is important to load this pattern with considerable dumbbell resistance as well to take advantage of stronger adductors.

Still not hard enough? Raise a foot about 3 to 4 inches off the ground for actual loading.

The key here is to get darn strong in this position, especially below. Why? Consider a still image of a lifter at the bottom of his crouch. Now cut the picture in half with only one knee visible. The remaining half indicates what one leg (knee bent) should look like in the side crouch, while the missing half would represent the other leg in a long position.

Essentially, the side squat should mimic what the bottom of your regular squat looks like on one side. If you get brutally strong with the side squat, it carries over to your standard squats.

How it goes

  • Hold a dumbbell in the cup position with both hands directly against your chest.
  • Raise a foot 3 to 4 inches off the floor on a bumper plate or similar sturdy object.
  • Reach far and wide with your other foot.
  • Keep both feet planted all the time.
  • Drop into a crouch on the side and then move back up.

4. The dumbbell cup Cossack squats

It’s the older cousin of the side squat and allows you to load an even larger range of motion in relation to the hip joint.

In this case, keep both feet on the floor. Also, don’t rush or let yourself fall too quickly. Instead, maintain a steady and steady pace that allows you to control the movement and charge a lot with a dumbbell.

The limitation in the Cossack squat is a noticeable flaring movement of the foot as you get deeper into the lower position. This occurs on the elongated leg and allows you to get deeper with the load.

You kill two birds with one stone while you improve your ability to strain and strengthen your groin muscles, and you promote hip and knee durability, which directly affects your squats and deadlifts.

How it goes

  • Take a dumbbell and hold it against your chest in the cup position.
  • Start with both feet flat on the floor and toes forward.
  • Descend to the lower position while stretching your toes up and down.
  • Ride back to the top position and bring your toes back on the floor.

5. The side lunge of the Kettlebell Front Rack Slide Board

If you really want to get your groin muscles glowing, use the gliding board for constant tension.

It’s a smooth surface, which means the foot sliding to the side has to work to keep control of the whole time. The groin muscles of this leg remain active all the time, as they must remain engaged as the foot is withdrawn (adducted) to the starting position.

This exercise not only smokes your adductors, it also keeps you honest with good core positioning. The front rack position with both kettlebells forces you to maintain relative stiffness in the front core, which means you have to fight even harder to maintain good technique and shape with your hips and knees. The hip and knee durability box is definitely checked off in this one.

How it goes

  • Hold two kettlebells in the front rack position against your chest and shoulders.
  • Place one foot on or in a shoe cover on a gliding board.
  • Then let yourself fall into the side lunge.
  • When you reach the bottom, pull the glide foot back into the starting position with control.

6. The Kettlebell One-Arm Offset Dead-Stop Lateral Lung

How it goes

  • Stand up and hold a kettlebell in your right hand.
  • Take a side lunge to the right.
  • While holding your right arm long, place the kettlebell on the floor and briefly remove your hand. (This is the dead stop aspect.)
  • Now take the vacuum cleaner and bring it back to the starting position.

Keep charging your heavy squats and deadlifts, but don’t forget that there are tons of other lower body exercises out there. Leaving the sagittal plane to the frontal plane is key to staying strong and healthy.

A stronger groin is a good sign of long-term knee and hip health, and most importantly, a longer life in the iron game. Think long term.

Related: How to REALLY Stretch Your Groin Area

Related: 5 Tips For Bigger Deadlifts


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