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Chances are when it comes to your gym routine, you have just that — a routine. You probably do the same exercises on rote even if you mix them up during the week. You may be familiar with certain exercises, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting the best results from doing them. Also, just because a certain exercise is popular with other gym goers (or on TikTok) doesn’t mean it’s beneficial or efficient.
Think less leg press machine, overhead press machine and crunches, and more body weight and core exercises. Here are exercises you aren’t doing that personal trainers really wish you were doing.
Morgan Dowd, personal coach with Onyx
“Bear crawls are excellent full body exercises that focus on building core strength and shoulder strength and stability. No equipment is needed so you can perform the exercise anywhere,” Dowd tells SheKnows. “People aren’t doing bear crawls because it requires a level of coordination and can be mentally challenging. It doesn’t seem like a challenging exercise at first glance, but proper form will work the entire body and increase the heart rate.”
Start on the ground with your hands underneath your shoulders and knees directly underneath your hips. Slowly lift your knees off the ground so you are hovering about six inches from the floor.
Then simultaneously lift the right hand and left foot as you take a step forward.
Repeat opposite arm, opposite leg for the designated amount of reps
Turkish Get Ups
“This movement improves shoulder stability, hip mobility, and overall strength. People aren’t doing Turkish get ups because they are a complicated exercise to learn and can be dangerous if performed incorrectly. They require a great deal of focus, and we are forced to slow down.”
Start lying flat on the ground with a weight in your right hand. Press the weight straight up so you have a line from your hand to your shoulder. Bend the right knee in and plant right foot on the ground. Keep left leg extended straight.
While keeping your eye on the dumbbell
and the arm straight, slowly roll over to your left elbow, and press yourself up to your left hand.
Push through the left palm & right foot to lift the hips. Simultaneously lift & rotate the hips as you bring your left foot through your right foot & left hand until you end up in a half kneeling position with your right leg in front.
Drive through the front foot as you end up in a standing position with your right arm still locked out overhead.
Follow the same pattern as you make your way back down to the starting position. Repeat other side.
Single Leg Deadlifts
“Lower body exercise that activates the glutes and hamstrings with less weight than traditional deadlift and therefore less risk of injury. Single leg training also reduces muscle imbalances which reduces the risk of injury. Improves balance, ankle stability and posterior chain strength. These aren’t popular because single leg deadlifts require a certain level of coordination and many people do not understand the benefits of unilateral training.”
Start standing position with a slight bend in your knees and dumbbells down by your side.
Simultaneously start to slide the dumbbells down your right leg as your left leg lifts until you find a straight line from your head to your back foot with the dumbbells shin height.
Drive through the right foot to come back to standing. Repeat other side.
“One of the best anti-rotational core exercises. It builds core muscles that are meant to protect our spine, therefore reducing the risk for back injury. Great core exercise alternative for any fitness level. They seem simple at first glance and aren’t as “sexy” as traditional core exercises.”
Start in a standing position, feet shoulder width apart, with a slight bend in your knees and a cable machine to your side.
Grab the handle of the cable machine and hold it tight to your chest.
While keeping your chest and hips square to the front, press the handle out directly in front of you, then return it back to your chest. Repeat the other side.
Chris Acuna, NASM, CPT and trainer at Rumble Boxing in NYC
Acuna wishes you were doing more planks, rows, and deadlifts. “The benefits of planks, rows and deadlifts are huge. I can’t tell you how many times I hear people with back pain or pains on one side of their back. Most times, it stems from imbalances or weaknesses in the muscles of the back. You strengthen the back, you can alleviate muscle-based pain in the back. It’s also key for your balance and posture.”
Rows and Deadlifts
Acuna recommends these exercises for a few reasons: They’re compound, so they work multiple muscles at once saving you some time and strengthening your body.
“Rows and deadlifts target the backside of your body, which for obvious reasons gets neglected since they are less glamorous and kind of forgotten in a digital age of flashy TikTok workouts, but they’re age-old staples for a reason.”
Using a horizontal, weighted cable machine for rows, start with your knees slightly bent so your back isn’t curved but you are still able to reach the cable. Keeping your abs tight and back straight – pull the handles back moving your torso with your arms.
To start, slightly bend your knees while keeping your feet hip-distance apart. Hinge forward at your hips while keeping your shoulders pressed back and away from your ears. When lifting, push your weight through your heels as you straighten your knees, pausing at the top and squeezing your glutes. It is so important to make sure you are never rounding your back as you deadlift.
“I’m sure it’s not a secret exercise — but planks engage your core in a way a lot of other ab exercises don’t. They put tension on your core, as opposed to flexing them to grow. The balance it takes to hold you steady also recruits the little tiny muscles we don’t think about, thus making you even stronger!”
For a standard plank, place your forearms on the floor so that your arms are parallel to your body and aligned below the shoulders. You can either place your palms flat to the ground or clasp your hands together — whatever is more comfortable.
Before you go check out our favorite at-home gym accessories that won’t break the bank: