My top 5 favorite unique muscle-building exercises
Any knowledgable fitness professional will tell you whether you're a beginner or a seasoned gym-goer, the best, most effective moves you need to be doing are the major compound lifts: squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and overhead presses.
But after you make your way through those powerhouse muscle-building moves, what do you do next?
If you're like most guys, on chest day, you do flys, on back day, you do rows, on shoulder day, you do raises, and on and on and on. It's all the accessory work.
Sure, I like those moves just as much as the next guy, but I also have a very short attention span and I get bored with the same old moves and routines week after week, month after month.
That's why I constantly seek out new and unique moves to switch things up during my workouts and keep things interesting.
So, here are my favorite unique muscle-building exercises, one for each body part:
Legs - Elevated Sumo Deadlift
Stand in between and on top of two elevated platforms, whether they be two benches, two plyo boxes, or two elevated stair steps, and take a wide stance with your toes pointed out at about a 45-degree angle.
Grasp an upright dumbbell or the handle of a kettlebell and bring it to the midline of your body. With a flat, neutral back, slowly lower the weight down in between your legs, keeping your toes and knees pointed out.
The goal is to lower the weight below your feet where you can really target your hamstrings and glutes. Bring the weight back up by pushing through your heels, and repeat.
Chest - Incline Dumbbell Fly to Hex Press
Lie back on an incline bench at a 30-degree angle with a pair of dumbbells.
Extend the dumbbells up and over your body. Perform an incline chest fly by lowering the weights out to the sides while keeping your shoulder blades tucked down and in. Bring the weights back to the starting position above your body.
Then, in the same motion and with the weights touching, lower them down to your chest for the hex press part of this movement. Return the weights back up to their starting position for the completion of the rep. Repeat.
Back - Dumbbell Deadlift to Row
Take a pair of dumbbells in your hands and set up in deadlift position, except with your feet closer together — leave about a 3-4-inch gap between your feet.
Perform a deadlift by simultaneously pushing your hips and glutes back and slightly bending your knees as you lower the weight.
At the bottom of the deadlift, bring the weights up to your outer chest in a row movement. Lower the weights, and then elevate up and out of the deadlift to complete the rep.
Shoulders - Burpee to Upright Row
Place a pair of dumbbells on the floor in front of you and get into pushup position while grasping the handles of the dumbbells.
While still holding onto the dumbbell, perform a burpee — in one explosive movement, bring your feet up underneath your body, straighten your back and tuck your butt down, and then stand up with the dumbbells in your hands. You should push up and out of the move through your heels.
Once you are upright and the dumbbells are in front of you, bring them up in an upright row, keeping them close to your body.
Lower the weights back down, and repeat.
Abs - Elbow Plank with Extension
Get into an elbow plank position supporting your body on your elbows and on the tips of your toes, with your feet 4-6 inches apart.
To begin the move, raise one arm out and in front of you like you're reaching for something on a shelf, and at the same time, lift the opposite leg off the floor. Return to plank position and repeat with the other arm/leg combo.
Keep your core — abs and back — tight, and keep your butt down and in a neutral line with your back. Try to keep from swaying from side to side too much.