Tired of the treadmill? Dreading your next elliptical session? If you’ve hit a workout wall, it may be time to consider mixing things up a bit. These uncommon exercises will help you switch things up when your next workout session rolls around. Just as effective as your go-to routines, these unusual moves will help you work muscles you may be forgetting about. Ready to think a little bit outside of your workout box? Here are eight must-try moves.
1. Suspension Trainers
The next time you’re at the gym, look around. Do you see those things that look like belts hanging down from a pole? It’s typically an underused item at the gym – most likely because it looks so innocent – but don’t be fooled by its harmless appearance. Women’s Health writes that the belt lets you control its resistance by adjusting your body position – these belts are often used in TRX and require you to swing in them. Suspension trainers enable you to get a fast and effective, total-body workout in a short amount of time.
2. Figure Eights
You’ll often see figure eights incorporated into belly and Latin dancing. It’s a great move aimed at your internal and external obliques, which will put you on the fast track to a six pack. To do it, stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees bent. Move your hips in a sideways “eight” motion. Start with the right, bring your hips up, around and center, and then take your left hip up, around and center. Fitbie recommends putting on your favorite song and doing this move for the entire length of the track. It’ll work your abs and obliques at the same time, making it a perfect move to tone your waist.
3. Swimming Dragon
This move can help speed up your metabolism, while reducing your appetite. Similar to a belly dance, this move promotes fat loss in the abdomen, says Yahoo.
- Stand with your feet together and ankles touching, or as close together as you can get them. Bring your hands over your head, with your palms together and fingers pointing up. Keep your palms together during this entire exercise.
- Inhale and push your waist out to the right side, while keeping your head and upper torso straight. At the same time, move your right elbow to the right, so that it rests at shoulder height.
- Exhale and push your waist out to the left side, while keeping your head and upper torso straight. Simultaneously move your left elbow fully to the left at shoulder height.
- Repeat this movement several times. Every time you move your waist to the right, bend your knees a little more, lowering your entire body as you squat. Be sure to keep your upper torso and head straight.
- With each right movement, move your hands lower, keeping your palms together and fingers pointing up. When your arms reach your chest, turn your fingers toward the ground and continue the movement.
- When your arms reach your knees, you should be squatting.
- Continue the movements, now rising with each right movement until you reach the standing position. When your arms reach your chest, switch the direction of your fingers so that they’re pointing up again.
“Throughout this exercise, your hands should produce an S-shaped movement and your body should do a rhythmic belly dance. Remember to inhale on the rightward movement and exhale to the left,” writes Yahoo. Try to start slowly with this move, gradually gaining speed.
4. Offset Dumbbell Lunge
Aimed at your quadriceps, this move will require you to hold a weight on just one side of your body, increasing the demand placed on your core to keep your body stable. Your hips and abs will have to work harder, meaning you’ll also improve your balance while burning tons of calories, per Women’s Health.
- To do this move, begin by holding a dumbbell in your right hand next to your shoulder with your arm bent. Step forward with your right leg and lower your body until your right knee is bent at least 90 degrees and your left knee nearly touches the floor.
- Push yourself back to the starting position – that’s one rep. Do as many reps as you can, then repeat with your left leg, holding the weight in your left hand.
5. Plank Walk
You’ll need a few cones or markers to do this Shape routine.
- Begin in a plank position to the right side of one cone. Lift your right hand and reach across your body to tap the cone.
- Then, walk your hands and feet out to the right until you’re close to the opposite cone. Tap this cone with your left hand. Repeat as quickly as possible, keeping your abs tight so your lower back doesn’t sag.
6. Side Scissors Crunch
This move, as shown in Fitness, targets your abs, hips and legs.
- Lie face up with your legs together and your arms overhead.
- Engage your abs and lift your legs straight over your hips.
- Crunch up as you lower your legs out to the sides and reach your hands through your legs.
- Lower your upper body and bring your legs back together. Aim for 15 reps.
7. Donkey Kick
Warning: This move may make you feel a little silly, but that’s OK! Seventeen suggests incorporating the donkey kick to add some entertainment to your workout.
- Bend over and place your palms on the floor three feet in front of your toes.
- Extend your left leg as high as you can behind you.
- Bend your right knee slightly, then push off your right foot as if you were trying to kick into a handstand. Let your body swing up, then back toward the floor.
- Land on your right foot. Do twelve kicks, then switch sides and do twelve more.
8. Rake and Shake
Trainer Sara Haley tells Redbook that this move is sure to liven up any routine.
- Clasp your hands together as if you are holding a rake. Step out to the right with your right leg into a side lunge (left leg stays straight), rotate your torso over your right leg, and reach your arms out to the right.
- Slowly rake an imaginary pile of leaves (and you) back to the center pile. Moving counter-clockwise, step into a corner lunge (back leg bends) and repeat.
- Lunge straight to the front with your back leg bent and your arms reaching forward over your right leg. Repeat all three lunges to the left.
- Shake your legs out one at a time as if you were trying to shake leaves off your legs, and try it again. Keep in mind: You should be using your whole body – that’s what makes this such a great exercise!