5 Old-School Exercises Everyone Should Start Doing Again

Man doing an old school exercise

Young people should bring old-school exercises back. | Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

History is extremely useful as a learning tool. We can look back now with 20/20 hindsight and make note of the failures, misgivings, and shortcomings of our forefathers, and do our best not to repeat their mistakes. And we can apply those lessons to every part of our lives, be it avoiding maritime disasters, dodging world wars, or even just remembering to make sure that the lid is securely on the top of the bender before we turn it on.

Just look at the worlds of exercise, fitness, and health. Recently, we found out one of our favorite foods, bacon, is actually a carcinogen. Not only that, but how many exercises and lifts — many of which had been done for decades, if not centuries — were actually doing more harm than good? We’ve learned so much over the years, and now, we’re able to take all of that collective knowledge and use it to our advantage.

That goes for what works, as well as for what doesn’t. So, what does work?

When it comes to exercise specifically, there are many exercises that originated deep in the past that are still used today. Pull-ups, squats, push-ups — the list goes on. But there are also exercises that we’ve gladly done away with, like the behind-the-head pulldown. Still, there are others that have simply faded away with time. And it may be worthwhile to give those exercises a shot.

And to help you with that, we have five specific exercises from yesteryear to share with you. These old-school exercises may give your workout an extra kick, or they may not. But you should definitely give them a try and give a vintage spin to your routine.

1. Forearm roller

Victor Costa in the video above not only shows you how to perform this exercise, but also a cheap and easy way to build your own instrument. The exercise in question is the forearm roller, sometimes called the wrist roller, and is performed by simply rolling up a weighted rope or string. It looks simple enough, and engaging in the act really isn’t that complicated. But it does give your forearms a serious workout, and you’ll probably be feeling it the next day in muscles you haven’t activated in quite some time.

2. Hollow-body hold

The hollow-body hold — sounds like the title of a horror movie, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not all that scary, maybe just a bit uncomfortable. You’ll get a good run-through of this exercise in the video tutorial above. Essentially, the hollow-body hold is a move that gives your abs and core a serious workout and is used by a specific set of athletes, typically gymnasts. This move is relatively simple, and you can try it out just about anywhere. The hard part is getting the form correct and letting your abs do all the work.

3. Barbell cheat curls

FitProVideo brings us this short and sweet video tutorial of how to pull off the barbell cheat curl. It’s really not all that different from a traditional barbell curl — with the exception of the hip movement you see the trainer doing in order to help hoist the weight up. That’s where the “cheat” part of the equation comes into play. Pushing your hips forward to create some momentum, and helping you swing the weight up until your biceps curl is really the key here. It’s definitely old school, and you may get a lot of funny looks, but try it out.

4. Sissy Squats

Why would anyone want to do something called a “sissy squat,” you ask? Well, just watch and listen to what Scott Herman of Scott Herman Fitness has to say in the video above. Really, there’s nothing all that sissyish about it. You’re essentially doing a bodyweight squat by bending backward with one arm being used to stabilize yourself. This is a good move for targeting your leg muscle groups — the quads in particular. Once you’re comfortable, you can do them without holding yourself up.

5. Boxing/sparring

boxing

Boxing is a great workout. | Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Here you go, a real man’s workout: boxing. If you’ve ever watched movies depicting the early days, it seems like guys are always sparring and boxing, knocking each other out and whatnot (curiously, with no assault charges). Well, you should give sparring or boxing a shot — it’s really a hell of a workout. You’ll be getting some serious cardio in, along with working on your balance and coordination. Though it’s not really a traditional “exercise” per se, it can be a lot of fun and can be done with friends. Or enemies.