Exercise(s) of the Week: The Double Down

Posted on by Ben Bruno

Since I am going to be out of town for a little while and will not be posting as much over the next week, I thought I would leave you with two exercises of the week today. It’s Christmas, and I’m in the giving mood. Plus, I have a whole bunch of videos that I have yet to upload to You Tube so this gave me a reason to get moving on that. Merry Christmas.


1. The first is Suspended Flies. I picked this mainly because I did it about four days ago and my chest is still so unbelievably sore I can’t think about anything else. This is an awesome chest exercise that also builds tremendous shoulder stability and core strength. I have been doing these for about 18 months and in that time it has become one of my favorites. It is extremely challenging, so I urge you to hold off trying it until you have mastered pushups on the rings first so you build up the requisite stability in your shoulders. When you do try it, set the straps high and work your way down slowly so you can get used to the feeling of having your arms out wide. Also, on that note, do not go out all the way out at first. Begin with what I like to call a “pushup/fly combo,” where you go out wider than a pushup but not all the way out. It took me awhile to build up to being able to do these with a full range of motion. For awhile, I was doing these with my feet elevated, but I actually prefer keeping my feet on the ground and adding resistance with a weight vest because with feet elevated, it is impossible to get your arms out wide and get a full range of motion without significant rounding in the lower back. While the primary benefit here is in the chest and shoulders, you will be surprised how much you feel your core working on these. Give them a shot, or make it a goal to work towards them. Here is what it looks like in action.

2. I was not sure what to call this second exercise, so I went with Inverted Face Pulls. Face pulls are an awesome exercise to improve posture, promote good shoulder health, and build up the upper back. They are typically done in a standing position using a cable or bands.


While I do like this exercise, I have always had a hard time stabilizing myself so I don’t get pulled in forward towards the cable stack. I have to really dig my feet in and brace my core hard to the point that it starts to feel more like a core exercise than an upper back exercise. In order to feel comfortable in my stance, I have to use a really lighten up the load to where I don’t feel my upper back is being taxed unless I do a whole bunch of reps.

In an effort to circumvent this issue, I started using the blast straps. It is great because you don’t have to worry about staying planted in the ground and you can focus more on the movement. The execution is the exact same as with the cables. Set up like you are doing a row, but rather than pull the straps to your sides, pull them to either side of your head. Pause for a brief second and really squeeze that upper back before coming down for another rep. These will smoke your upper back and posterior delts like you’ve never felt before. Like I suggested with the flies above, start with your feet on the floor and the straps set higher and work your way down as your strength improves. I really think you will like this one.

Be sure to check back tomorrow because it looks like I will be getting a Good Reads post up. Also, be sure to subscribe to my You Tube channel to check out more videos as I get them uploaded.

Be safe and train hard.

  • Chris Beardsley

    Ben, thanks for this face pull variant. I also have problems being pulled towards the weight when standing. I thought it was just me weighing as much as Dave Tate's left leg…

  • Steven Rice Fitness

    My variation of suspended flies is to do a fly with one arm while the other does a press(push up). I alternate side to side each rep for some nice dynamics. The same thing works on the ground.

  • Ben Bruno

    Chris- Let me know how you like it. It's funny you mention the light bodyweight thing because in my original post I wrote that I thought the reason I was getting pulled off balance was because I am not the heaviest guy around either, but I erased it because I did not want to sound like I was making excuses. I agree though that bodyweight likely plays a role there, but the exercise I showed helps get around that and in fact is probably better suited for lighter individuals.

    Steve- That sounds like it could work well. Good stuff.