Diversify Your Workout With These 4 Underused Exercises

with Personal Trainer Tom Lombardo

1. Kettlebell Farmer Carry

You may be thinking “this doesn’t seem like much of a workout”, but this exercise engages a wide range of upper and lower body muscles. Grab two kettlebells – start light to get a feel for the exercise, then progress the weight up as you get comfortable. With one kettlebell in either hand, walk in a straight line until you reach your “turning point” – 15-25 feet is a good distance – then turn around and return to where you began. As you walk, and while picking up and putting down weights, keep your spine straight and back and core muscles engaged to avoid injury.

2. Kettlebell Deadlifts

Kettlebells are great tools for deadlifting, especially if you find barbell deadlifts challenging because your knees get in the way. (A) Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and your bell in between your feet. Hinge at the hips, create some bend through the knees, and maintain a neutral neck and spine as you lower yourself to pick up the dumbbell. (B) Your dumbbell should follow one straight, vertical path throughout the movement (i.e. don’t swing your arms around, and lift into a tall posture rather than leaning back). Repeat.

3. Planks

To get into a plank position, post up on your toes and either your hands or elbows (the latter is easier on the wrists). You may find it hard to feel how straight or sloped your back is. Maintaining a straight spine and tight core is key, so we recommend doing this exercise with a second set of eyes or in front of a mirror.

4. Burpees

Start by lowering into a squat and placing your palms on the ground slightly in front of your feet. (A) Switch your weight from your legs to your arms then jump your feet back behind you, landing in an upright plank position with a straight spine. (B) Maintain a flat posture from head to heels as you lower into a push-up. (C) Extend your arms back into a plank, jump your feet forward back into your squat, (D) then leap straight upward in one explosive motion. Repeat

Bonus: Under-used Equipment

1. Battle Ropes

When many people think battle ropes, they think exhaustive, upper-body work. But this piece of equipment is beautiful for two reasons:

  1. In terms of intensity, they’re extremely dynamic. You can slam the ropes as fast or slow with as much or as little power as you want.
  2. It’s not just for arms and core. Next time you’re using battle ropes, try adding a leg component with lunges, side lunges, or squat jumps.

2. Olympic Rings

For those athletes who frequently practice pull-ups and dips, the olympic rings (also known as gymnastics rings) are a great way to up the difficulty of these exercises. Because the rings are free-hanging, they will challenge your stability quite a bit more than a traditional pull-up bar or assisted pull-up/dip machine.

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