Best Workouts! (Anything but Routine)

WYLIT

Whether it’s browsing through your social media feed or observing from a distance at the gym, you likely have witnessed some pretty unusual workouts. While some of them look pretty goofy, they can have amazing benefits when done correctly.

My colleague, Craig Ballantyne, has a few of these moves himself that he incorporates into many of his workouts.

While they are all super effective, common movement patterns for body weight workouts, they tend to trip people up, creating confusion about proper form and muscle engagement.

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These “weird” moves, as Craig calls them, might be just the thing to add to your next workout. Check out the demo video above then, read the form cues below — with a little practice you’ll be an expert in no time:

Rocking Plank

Exercise and Execution

Rocking Plank

Begin in forearm plank with abs braced and body in a straight line from toes to shoulders.

Shift body back and forth moving at the shoulder joint while keeping elbows and forearms squeezing toward the midline.

What it Works

Entire front side of body — forearms, triceps, chest, shoulders, core, quads

Expert Tips

Keep the elbows squeezing toward each other to “turn on the chest” and support healthy shoulder alignment.

Push and pull with the toes while keeping quads engaged and lifted.

Spiderman Climb

Exercise and Execution

Spiderman Climb

Begin in High Plank. Keep the abs braced and body in a straight line from toes (knees) to shoulders.

Place the hands on the floor slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.

Bring your right knee up toward your right elbow and plant your foot on the ground.

Return to the start position.

Alternate sides until you complete all repetitions.

Keep your body in a straight line at all times and try not to rotate at your hips.

What it Works

Hip mobility, core strength, upper body strength.

Expert Tips

Press away from the floor with hands and posted foot to stay buoyant as the knee drives up to the side.

Spiderman Pushup

Exercise and Execution

Spiderman Pushup

Keep the abs braced and body in a straight line from toes (knees) to shoulders.

Place the hands on the floor slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.

Slowly lower yourself down until you are 2 inches off the ground.

As you lower yourself, slowly bring your right knee up to your right elbow.

Keep your foot off the ground as you do so.

Push through your chest, shoulders, and triceps to return to the start position, and
return your leg to the start position.

Alternate sides until you complete all repetitions.

Keep your body in a straight line at all times and try not to rotate at your hips.

What it Works

Hip mobility, core strength, upper body strength, anti-rotation control, and power.

Expert Tips

Again, quads! Keep them engaged so the entire body is working together to facilitate the movement.

Single-Leg Hip Extension

Exercise and Execution

Lying 1-Leg Hip Extension

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

Brace your abs, and contract your right glute (butt muscle) while you take your left
leg, lift it off the floor and hold it in the position shown.

Using the right glute, bridge your hips up.

Keep your abs braced. Do not use your low back to do this exercise.

Slowly lower your hips down until they are an inch above the ground.

Perform all reps for one leg and then switch sides.

What it Works

Hamstrings, glutes, and core

Expert Tips

Keep knee aligned with hip joint — do not allow leg to cave in or splay out during the movement.

Imagine your foot is on slippery ice. Do not allow your foot to “slip” away by energetically hugging the heel toward the hips — this will deepen the engagement of the working hamstring and connect energy along the entire posterior chain.

Elevated Pushup

Exercise and Execution

Elevated Pushup

Keep the abs braced and body in a straight line from knees to shoulders.

Place the left hand on the floor and the right hand elevated 4-6 inches on a yoga block or Med ball.

With hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, lower your body down until you are 2 inches off the ground.

Push through your chest, shoulders, and triceps to return to the start position.

Keep your body in a straight line at all times.

What it Works

Offsets the workload on one side of the body increasing single arm strength and challenging body mechanics

Expert Tips

Engage your quads — your pushups will never be the same.

Stay lengthened and engaged through your body by pressing heels back while chest and crown of the head reach forward.

Iron Cross

Exercise and Execution

Iron Cross

Begin in an athletic stance with knees soft, legs toned, and abs braced. Hold your hands out to your sides in a T-formation at all times.

Draw shoulder blades down and together keeping upper back and shoulder muscles tensed throughout the exercise.

What it Works

Isometrically contracts the muscles of the upper back and shoulders including rhomboids, deltoids, lats, rotator cuff muscles, and core.

Expert Tips

This exercise is more effective the more energy you give it — Find great alignment via posture then squeeze imagining each muscle group firing fully.

Stick Up

Exercise and Execution

Stick Up

Stand with your back against a wall with feet set 6 inches forward. Butt, upper back, and head should all be in contact with the wall at all times during the exercise.

Begin with hands up overhead. Try to keep your shoulders, elbows, and wrists in contact with the wall at all times.

Draw your shoulder blades down and together as you slide your arms down the wall and tuck your elbows into your sides. You should feel a strong contraction in the muscles between your shoulder blades as well as the shoulder muscles.

From the bottom position, try to slowly slide your arms up until they are straight and
in a “stick-em up” position. Again, try to keep everything in contact with the wall.
Try to improve your range of motion in this exercise each week.

Return to the squat swinging arms back down by sides – keep chest lifted then repeat the “fake jump.” Move swiftly with good form.

What it Works

The goal is to improve shoulder mobility and postural control. But you can also facilitate a stronger understanding of how to properly contract the muscles of your back and shoulders in an upright & aligned position.

Expert Tips

Try to improve your range of motion in this exercise each week.

Imagine you are doing a pull up – knowing how to engage these muscles when there is no load leads to a greater ability to use them effectively when there is a load.

TBX

Exercise and Execution

Total Body Extension (TBX)

Stand with your feet just greater than shoulder-width apart.

Swing hands back by hips as you sit into a small squat.

Launch body out of the squat into a “fake jump” – coming up onto the balls of the feet with legs straight and quads engaged, as arms swing overhead.

Return to the squat swinging arms back down by sides – keep chest lifted then repeat the “fake jump.” Move swiftly with good form.

What it Works

Works the entire body, including cardiovascular fitness.

Builds agility – the ability to change the body’s position efficiently, and requires the integration of isolated movement skills using a combination of balance, coordination, speed, reflexes, strength, and endurance.

Expert Tips

Load the energy in the squat then launch as if you really were going to jump…. Stop at the top with every single muscle in your body engaged to fight the momentum of the “fake jump”.

The ability to control your body in this move will translate a thousand times over in other movement patterns including those in your daily life.

Reverse Lunge

Exercise and Execution

Reverse Lunge

Begin in an athletic stance with knees soft, legs toned, and abs braced.

Step one foot back and drop the knee down toward the floor while keeping weight shifted onto front leg.

Press through heel of front leg and engage hamstrings, quads, and glutes to return to start position. Alternate legs.

What it Works

Balance, coordination, flexibility, and strength.

Muscles of the front leg including those in the foot, lower leg and upper leg – hamstring, quad and glutes. Plus the core.

Expert Tips

Core engagement is critical for proper execution.

Keep the weight shifted into the heel of the front foot to protect the knee and do not allow the knee to pass the front toes.

Offer a slight forward lean with hips pushed back to accentuate glute and hamstring involvement, but do not allow the chest to collapse.

Prisoner Squat

Exercise and Execution

Prisoner Squat

Stand with your feet just greater than shoulder-width apart.

Clasp your hands behind your head. Keep your elbows back and shoulder blades pulled together to work the upper back.

Start the movement at the hip joint. Push your hips backward and sit back into a chair. Make your hips go back as far as possible.

Squat as deep as possible, but keep your low back tensed in a neutral position.

Do not round your lower back or drop your chest forward.

Push with your glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps to return to the start position.

What it Works

Total Body Exercise primarily targets quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core (abs and low back)

Expert Tips

Sit farther back than you think you should and drive up with more pressure in the heels.

Use your exhale to return upright from the bottom of the squat and press navel to spine as you stand up.

Keep knees aligned over second toe of each foot.

WYLIT

Exercise and Execution

WYLIT

Lay belly down over a fit ball. Set feet wide for balance and lengthen torso to engage muscles of the spine.

W: Begin with hands up overhead. Slide elbows down creating a W and bring your shoulder blades down and together.

Y: Extend arms straight overhead with thumbs up then open them wide into a Y pattern. Keeping shoulder blades tucked down the back make small movements up & down.

L: Upper arm extends out straight from shoulder joint. Bend the elbows to 90 degrees and maintain that angle as you externally rotate the upper arm bringing fists up – more in line with the ears – and down in line with the chest.

I: Move the arms straight out in front of body; palms facing the floor. Lift arms to align with ears then lower to chest level.

T: Open arms straight out from shoulder height creating a T formation. Draw shoulder blades together and down as you create small movements up and down

What it Works

Improves shoulder mobility and trains the small muscles of the rotator cuff to work in unison with muscles of the back creating a healthy range of motion.

W: Rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, and shoulder muscles.

Y: Rhomboids, rear deltoid, Teres Minor.

L: fires the small external rotators of the shoulder joint – Infraspinatus and Teres Minor.

I: anterior deltoids, rotator cuff muscles

T: Posterior deltoid, rhomboids, and Lats

Expert Tips

W: Imagine tucking elbows into the waist band of your pants

Y: Initiate movement from the rhomboids – the muscles in between the shoulder blades.

L: Only rotate as much as you are able without force. Range of motion will improve with practice but not if you’re injured!

I: Rotate the palms to face each other if you have shoulder impingement issues.

T: Squeeze the shoulder blades together to help facilitate a good contraction.

Further Reading:

Perfect Pushup

4 Workouts to Keep Cardio Interesting

 

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