It's not difficult to find articles touting all the magical benefits of burpees, planks, and squats. I’m not saying these aren't good exercises. They are! But sticking to staples like these during your workouts gets old in a hurry, and is more likely to burn you out.
To help you mix up your gym routine, we asked personal trainers to reveal their favorite underrated exercises.
Kettlebell workouts surged in popularity in 2013 along with CrossFit and the Paleo diet. But after that brief moment in the sun, most people moved on to bigger and better things. Cristina Osorio, kettlebell and fitness instructor at TruFusion, suggests reviving the weighted handlebars. “The kettlebell is one of the most dynamic tools for strength, flexibility, and endurance training,” Osorio explains. “Because kettlebell swings create very minimal impact on your lower body, it’s the perfect solution to bringing cardio into your workout routine without agitating your knees.”
You know that weird exercise that makes you look like you’re dry humping... well, nothing? Those are called bridges, and according to Ellen Thompson, head personal trainer at Blink Fitness Penn Plaza, you should do them more often. “If you really want to target the butt and activate those glutes, bridges are where it’s at,” Thompson says, adding that bridges are one of the best glute-activation exercises around. Plus, they're a versatile exercise. “You can perform standalone [bridges] as a bodyweight movement, with weights for a strength movement, or add an exercise ball as a stability movement.”
This exercise may not look like much more than standing on your tippy toes, but Courtney Paul, trainer at YG Studios, claims it’s a must when training the lower body. “Nothing is more unappealing than someone who has muscular quads, hamstrings, and glutes with underdeveloped calves,” he says. “So before you hit the showers, polish your gastrocnemius and soleus muscles!”
Up the ante on traditional squats with single-leg squats, says Patrick Mason, yoga instructor at TruFusion. “By using only one leg on a hack squat machine, or doing pistol squats freestanding, you’re ensuring that each leg does exactly the same amount of work,” Mason explains. “This helps build your leg muscles evenly.”