5 Next-Level Exercises To Break Your Boring Fitness Routine
Squat. Pushup. Lunge. Plank. You know what these are. But if these are all you know, it's time to add new workout vocabulary to your repertoire. New words mean new moves, new tools, and most importantly, new results. If you're stuck in a plateau or itching to reach the next level, spicing up your routine can help you increase muscle, strength, and power. All it requires is special equipment or a deeper understanding of anatomy. Here are five new exercises to improve your vocabulary (and fitness).
1| Half-Kneeling Landmine Press
If you're looking for a joint-friendly shoulder exercise, this is it. A "landmine" is a tool where one end of a barbell is locked into a fulcrum while the other end travels in an arc. As you push up, your hand moves further away from your body, which reduces the stress on your joints compared to a normal shoulder press. "Half-kneeling" is the same as when you "take a knee"—one knee on the ground, both knees at 90-degree angles. By lifting weights in this position, you target your core and hips and improve your stability. (You also won't be able to cheat with your legs or overarch your back.)
How to do it: Place one end of a barbell in a landmine. At the other end, kneel facing the landmine head-on, grab it with one hand, and hold it near the same shoulder. Drive the barbell overhead without twisting your torso or leaning to the side. Finish all your reps on one side and alternate. Add weight by sliding on more small plates. (If you don't have a landmine, just put a folded towel in a corner and wedge one end of a barbell into it.)
2| Half-Kneeling Kettlebell Halos
Ditch planks and crunches—this exercise blasts your abs from all angles while training you to stabilise your trunk and hips.
How to do it: Get into the "half-kneeling" position and hold one kettlebell in both hands so the large part points up. Keep your lower back neutral and make big circles around your head with the kettlebell, like a halo. Do all your reps one way and then switch directions.
3| Bottoms-Up Kettlebell Carries
Kettlebell vocabulary is often limited to "swings," "cleans," and "snatches." (Hopefully not "bicep curls," because that's not what kettlebells are for.) But by holding a kettlebell in one hand with the bell above the handle, you unlock new challenges: The instant you lose connection somewhere in your body—not just your grip—the kettlebell will fall. Thus, to hold it correctly, your entire body needs to be in sync, which trains you to tense all your muscles and build stability throughout, not just in your abs.
How to do it: Start with one kettlebell in the "rack position" with the large part of the kettlebell above the handle. Keep your chest up, pull your shoulders back, and crush your armpits. Then, walk while staying tall.
4| Hard Roll
Planks? Forget about it. The "roll" builds core strength while enhancing the way you move—it trains your torso to fire in the correct sequence and strengthens your inner core, not just your outer core, in a low-stress environment. The outer core is what most people think of when they think of core work: abs and obliques. But the inner core includes deep muscles like the transverse abdominis, as well as your diaphragm and pelvic floor, and it fires first, activating your outer core to stabilize and move. The "hard roll" is simply a variation where you touch opposite knee to elbow and maintain that position as you roll.
How to do it: Lie flat on your back with both arms overhead and leg straight. Pinch a half-roller or ball above your chest with your left knee and your right elbow. With the roller or ball in place, turn your head toward your left armpit and "pull" the rest of your body until it falls onto the left side. Then, turn your head toward the right and pull your body back to the starting position. Keep your arms and legs relaxed; it's your core that should do all the work. Do a few reps and then switch sides.
5| Dumbbell Snatch
Snatches are usually done with barbells, but if you don't have bumper plates, avoid them. Instead, use a "dumbbell snatch" to build total-body explosive strength. You will improve the triple extension of your lower-body—knees, hips, and ankles—which adds more muscle, blasts your fast-twitch muscles, and train your body to move more weight faster.
How to do it: Lower one dumbbell in front of you by bending at your hips and slightly bending your knees (like a Romanian deadlift). Then, rapidly extend your hips, knees, and ankles with a jump while yanking the dumbbell overhead. As you pull, keep your elbow above the dumbbell and keep the dumbbell close to your body, as if you were in a phone booth. Throw up the dumbbell as your body extends—but don't let go—then catch it at the top and land with your heels on the ground. From the top, use both hands to lower the weight. Repeat.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.