Weight loss is tough, and you may think that you need to start adding in heavy weights and hours of intense cardio intervals to get the results you’re looking for. While weights are a great way to boost your typical gym routine and running is sure to get the heart rate up, you don’t have to default to an exercise program that leaves you uninspired and unmotivated — and, if you’re training too much on one machine at the gym, you could be putting yourself at greater risk for injury. Sometimes, it’s the simplest and easiest moves that bring the greatest gains, and it doesn’t necessarily take all of the fancy equipment in the gym to bring about fantastic results. Don’t forget about these seven severely underrated exercises that are fantastic for shedding unwanted weight.
You probably know of this one from yoga (or gym class in elementary school if yoga isn’t your thing), but the bridge is a strengthening move that works a variety of muscles and can lead to weight loss if performed along with your regular exercise routine. Mindbodygreen explains the bridge strengthens and flattens your abs, as it works the center of your core and oblique muscles on the sides. You’ll also have stronger glutes, which can give you more power when you’re performing intense cardio moves, and thus can lead to burning more calories and losing weight fast.
Performing a bridge is easy — you lie on your back with feet planted on the ground and knees bent. Then, lift through your hips up, engaging the core and glutes to help you lift as high as you can with no help from your elbows or arms. You can vary this move by adding a weight onto your hips or performing these with just one leg for added toughness.
2. The suitcase carry
Men’s Health says the suitcase carry doesn’t feel like much work, but in reality, you’ll be sculpting your forearms, deltoids, trapezoids, and obliques.
The suitcase carry is as easy as it sounds — grab a dumbbell in each hand that’s heavy enough to be challenging but not so heavy that your form is compromised, and then walk. You can even go for five to eight-pound dumbbells if you don’t want to break a sweat. Make sure to keep your shoulders square and stand tall as you’re walking — and that’s the exercise! It’s easy, underrated, and great for weight loss.
If you’re looking for sleek, rock-hard abs, it’s easy to forget about the simple superman move. Your first thought might be bicycle crunches, side bends with heavy weights, or planks, and while all of those are all great for strengthening your core, the superman is an underrated exercise that you need to be adding into your routine so that you can work on strengthening your back as well. Core strength is essential for good balance, and back strength is essential for good posture and more power in other weight-lifting moves. You’ll get that sculpted, strong lower back to go with your toned core for an overall slimmer physique.
The superman exercise is simple, and if you’re already on the ground doing crunches, then flip onto your stomach and try a few reps of this move. With feet together and arms extended in front of you, lift up with your glutes and arms, and lower back down to the mat with control.
They were popular in ‘80s workout videos, but since then, the step-up exercises have fallen out of favor with gym-goers everywhere. It’s time to grab a step or a bench and put these back into your routine, as they’re easy to perform anywhere and extremely effective for targeting the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core. You can either perform the step-up quickly with no weights as a cardio move, or you can incorporate heavy weights for strength training. Either way, your legs will feel the burn, and because you need to maintain balance as you’re stepping up and stepping back down, you’ll get a good core workout as well.
Men’s Health explains the perfect step-up involves a 90-degree angle at the knee and a hinge at the hip to prepare your glutes and hamstrings for the incoming workload. Make sure most of the weight is in the middle of your foot to the back of your heel instead of your toes, and step up. You can enhance this move with weights or by adding a leg lift to the back or sides as well — get creative, and you’ll see results.
5. Calf raises
It’s simple, and it doesn’t look like much, but calf raises are the perfect strength-training move to sculpt amazing legs and help you burn through stubborn fat that’s sitting in your calf and ankle region. Plenty of exercises target your glutes and hamstrings, but what’s so unique about this exercise it that directly targets the calf muscles, so you shouldn’t leave it out of your routine. You’ll be working two main muscle groups in your calves with this move, and when you strengthen these muscles, you’ll be putting less strain on your Achilles tendons during future exercises, too.
To perform calf raises, Livestrong.com recommends standing near a wall for support while you lift one foot off the ground and point it behind you. With your stable, grounded foot, lift up onto the ball of your foot slowly, and then lower back down with control. You can either switch legs and continue at this pace, or you can give yourself a cardio boost by hopping on the balls of both feet to perform the move this way.
You’ve been doing these every year in gym class since the fifth grade so you’re probably sick of them by now, but push-ups are critical in shedding pounds and building strength. Strength moves are hard, and while it’s tempting to grab a pair of weights before getting on the ground for push-ups, we recommend adding in this underrated exercise for serious gains. Push-ups work the muscles around your shoulders, so you’ll get more definition in this area of your arms and back. And, because you’ll be in a plank position, you’ll be working your core as well. Push-ups are the ultimate in terms of muscle gain and fat loss in your upper body.
FitDay says your palms should be spaced apart by roughly the width of your shoulders and your back and legs should be straight and in line before you perform your push-up. Then, lower down, and don’t cheat yourself — the slower and lower you go with controlled movements, the more you’ll get out of the exercise.
7. Incline walking
A brisk walk has heart-healthy benefits and can aid you in your weight loss goals, but if you’re just planning on power-walking the day away on a treadmill at the gym, then do yourself a favor and bump up the incline. Running may not be your thing, but you can still get a fantastic, sweaty, and heart-pumping workout by just walking on an incline without increasing your speed. For those looking to shed pounds fast, you’ll be utilizing more energy and burning more calories, and you’ll be building muscle in your legs, too.
If your legs are your problem area, then incline walking is especially great for elongating the calf muscles and building longer, leaner legs. It’s a low-impact exercise that comes with great cardio benefits, and it can be done outside or inside on a treadmill. Start by choosing a steady treadmill speed and then increasing your incline by 5% until you’re at a pace and level that challenges you. Increase and decrease your incline for hill intervals if you desire.