Exercises That Will Add a Serious Challenge to Your Workout

Are you an exercise enthusiast who loves a challenge? If so, you probably have a habit of testing your limits and trying different workouts to see what you’re capable of — even if they aren’t exactly the easiest to complete. If you’re up for the test, these five moves go beyond what’s considered an average exercise. They require endurance, balance, and the proper amount of strength. Think you have what it takes? Try these moves during your next workout to burn calories, strengthen your muscles, and keep your routine difficult and effective.

1. Tricep push-up with mountain climber

woman doing push-ups in gym

This exercise really works your whole body. | iStock.com

To perform this exercise, Greatist says to begin in a high plank position with your core tight, back flat, and wrists right underneath your shoulders. Then, perform a tricep push-up by bending your elbows back rather than at your sides, and then push back up to starting position before your body can touch the ground. At the top of this move, immediately draw your right leg toward your chest and alternate sides four times as if you’re running. Then, perform another tricep push-up, and continue switching between moves until fatigue. These exercises may be less of a challenge on their own, but put them together and you’ll feel the burn faster than you think.

2. Prisoner get-up

Man Exercising Abdominals

This one really works your abs. | iStock.com/Ibrakovic

First, sit cross-legged on the ground and place both hands behind your head so that your elbows are out toward the sides of the room. Then lay back on the floor to get into starting position. To put this exercise into motion, lift your upper body off the floor by engaging your lower abs (as if you’re doing a sit-up), and use your hips and leg muscles to lift your entire body off the ground so that you’re eventually standing up straight. The catch? You can’t use your hands to help you. It may take practice to be able to complete this move without assistance, so you can always practice with using your hands at first before you fully commit to going hands-free.

3. Pistol squat

Man performing single-leg pistol squats

The single-leg pistol squat is a serious challenge. | iStock.com

To begin, Women’s Health says to stand with your arms straight out in front of you so that they’re parallel to the ground. Then, raise your right leg forward so that it’s slightly off the floor, and then using your core to keep you balanced, slowly lower your body by pushing your hips back and keeping your right leg elevated. Eventually, at the bottom of the move, it should be just about parallel to the floor. Then, slowly lift your body back up to starting position for one rep. This one is extremely challenging and may require lots of practice. But by the time you’re capable of completing just one, you’ll notice the sculpted legs, increased lower body strength, and balance you’ve developed through practice.

4. Medicine ball hollow-body hold

Woman exercising with Medicine Ball on blue background

Medicine balls are great for tons of different exercises, including this core move. | iStock.com/OSTILL

To do this exercise, you’ll need to place a 3 to 6 pound medicine ball between your ankles. Lie flat on your back with your arms down at your sides and legs straight out in front of you. Then, lift your shoulder blades off the floor while also raising your legs about 12 inches from the ground, and reach your fingertips towards your ankles. Hold for 30 to 45 seconds at the top of this move.

5. Box-jump burpee

Fit young woman box jumping at a gym

Take burpees to the next level. | iStock.com/Ammentorp Photography

Livestrong.com says that all you have to do is start by beginning a burpee as you normally would, and then perform a box jump right after. Just be sure that you’re in proper form the entire time. While performing a burpee, remember to keep your back flat and make sure that your wrists and shoulders align when you’re in plank position. When you do a box jump, make sure you’re squatting and landing correctly. Proper form is essential to maximize the workout’s benefits and to avoid any sort of injury.

6. Bulgarian split squat

Young woman doing exercises in the park

You can even do this move outside. | iStock.com/twinsterphoto

Start standing with your back to a weight bench that’s a few feet away. Place the top of your left foot on top of the bench, then sink into a squat until your right knee reaches a 90-degree angle, then push back to the starting position. Repeat until exhaustion, then switch legs.

7. Dragon flag

Set of personal sport stuff lay on training bench in fitness gym

An exercise bench is a requirement for this one. | iStock.com/golubovy

If you’re looking for a brutal ab exercise, this is it. Livestrong.com says to lie down with your back on a bench, keeping your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your elbows and grasp either side of the bench, just next to your ears. Use your core to lift your legs, rolling up onto your shoulders, until your legs are pointed toward the ceiling. Slowly roll back down until your legs are hovering just above the bench, then repeat. You should really feel it in your abs.

8. Superman push-up

superman push up

Superman push-ups give the classic move a bit more oomph. | iStock.com

Push-up variations are never easy, and the superman version is no exception. Livestrong.com says you’ll lie on your stomach with your legs extended behind you, arms shoulder-width apart and extended past your head. Push your toes and palms into the floor until your rise up as far as possible, which won’t be more than about 12 inches. Slowly lower yourself back down, then repeat.

9. Swiss ball pike

swiss-ball exercise

This is one of the hardest, but most effective Swiss ball moves you can do. | iStock.com

This move is a serious challenge because it works your core, chest, and shoulders while forcing you to balance. Men’s Fitness explains how to do it. Get into a plank position with your feet resting on top of an exercise ball and your hands planted below your shoulders, arms fully extended. Keeping your legs as straight as possible, pull the ball forward as far as possible by bending at your hips, hold for three to four seconds, then roll back until the ball comes up to your legs so your body forms a 30-degree angle with the ground. Repeat 10 times.

10. L-sit

L-sit on parallettes

If you’ve never tried an L-sit, you’re in for a challenge. | iStock.com/LunaMarina

Muscle & Fitness says this classic gymnast move will target your abs, triceps, and shoulders. The best way to perform this exercise is with paralettes, but you can also use any set of parallel bars. Start by getting in between the parallettes, which should be about shoulder-width apart. Grip the bars  firmly and push your body up, keeping your legs extended straight in front of you so your body forms an “L” shape. Hold the pose for 20 seconds. Trust us, that’ll be enough for you to feel it.

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