3 Toughest Pound For Pound Exercises

Dustin Myers


As someone who has always considered myself “pound for pound” strong and well rounded in the gym, I have to admit there still is a certain amount of appeal to just throwing around some heavy weight.  I’m not the strongest guy at the gym (not even close) but there are very few exercises that I can’t jump in the mix and lift something respectable.

However…there are certain exercises that are impossible to use heavy weight on due to their level of difficulty, the mechanical disadvantage they place your body in, and the fact that they expose weaknesses in almost any weightlifter.  I don’t care if you are the biggest, baddest lifter at your gym, you will struggle with these three movements.

1. Serrano Press - this movement is the holy grail of shoulder stability and may be pound for pound the hardest dumbbell exercise known to man.  First developed by my mentor Dr Eric Serrano, this press hits every small muscle involved in stabilizing the shoulder - from the rotator cuff to the labrum - in addition to the big movers like the deltoids.  Start by laying face down on an incline bench set at 45 degrees.  Take a light set of dumbbells (5lbers if you have never done this movement before) and rotate your shoulders so your arms are in line with your body.  Extend both arms in a pressing fashion and keep one arm extended as you begin to perform iso-presses.  Make sure that your arms are in line with the bench and your torso, and that your head and neck stay in a neutral position.  Complete 5-8 iso-reps on each side.

What makes this so tough? - The small muscles of the upper back and rotator cuff are used to stabilize the shoulder, but in this position they are without the added benefit of the big strong anterior delts (such as in an overhead press situation).


2. Snow Angels - Remember the snow angels you made in the fresh snow as a kid?  Well this is a similar motion for the upper body except you will start by laying face down.  Keep your arms off the ground and palms down for the entire movement as you sweep them from overhead down to your legs and back.  Work up to 12 reps with 5 or 10b plates.

What makes this so tough?  Once again, the weaker posterior side of the shoulder is used to stabilize as you move thru the full range of motion.  Poor shoulder mobility and a weak lower back will also add to the difficulty of this one - but both issues can be resolved by regular incorporation of this pound for pound ego crusher.


3. Hanging Hamstring Med Ball Holds

Hang from a pull up bar and curl your feet up behind you, contracting your hamstrings.  Squeeze a med ball between your ankles or have a partner load a heavy one on top of your ankles.  Keep your hips forward and knees back as you hold for the prescribed time.

What makes this so tough?  In general, most people have a hard time “finding” their adductors and hamstrings.  Isometric squeezes are an effective way to activate and strengthen these crucial keys to athletic performance.


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