Let’s face it: Doing the same workout day in and day out can get kind of boring. But we’re creatures of habit. Which means that when we find something that works, we often stick with it, regardless of how monotonous it may be.
The good news? You don’t have to be a top fitness trainer to get the scoop on new exercises. We scrolled through hundreds of Instagram accounts looking for some creative exercises, and what we found will definitely amp up your workouts.
1. Medicine-Ball Toe Taps
And the rest of the workout is awesome too! She combines quick spurts of cardio with core, upper-body and lower-body exercises to round out this total-body workout. The moves are great for intermediate to advanced fitness levels. However, if you have any knee issues, be careful with the low squat to overhead press. To modify, only squat down halfway.
2. Push-Up Step-Through
Get ready to crush some calories with this 15-minute workout from @mikedfitness. Moves like the push-up step-through are mixed in with other full-body moves that work all of the major muscle groups. Laura Mucci, an instructor at EverybodyFights, says this is an excellent end-of-workout burner set or a great idea for someone who doesn’t have a lot of time but wants to move.
“I would say this is for someone who is more advanced, does not struggle too much with coordination or doesn’t have any knee, ankle or back injuries — due to the amount of jumping,” she says. If you need to modify, scale down the split squat by lowering your knee toward the ground (without the jump), trying the push-ups on your knees and starting the burpees by stepping your feet back.
3. Quick Step In and Out
If you want a great butt and leg finisher or a quick 20-minute cardio routine, give this booty blaster from @livefitelle a try. She takes you through a timed circuit of quick steps, sumo squats, jump squats and gallop squats. Our fave? The quick step in and out, which is a great cardio drill to get your heart rate up.
And nothing targets your lower body quite like squats. “The sumo squat allows you to go a little heavier and concentrate more on the inner thighs, while the sumo deadlift is a little more friendly for someone with mobility issues or back sensitivities,” says Mucci. But make sure your feet are wider than hip-width distance with your toes pointed out slightly for both sumo moves.
4. Kettlebell Push-Up
If you want serious definition in your shoulders and muscles fit for an anatomy textbook, give this creative push-up variation from @blainestrong a try. But before you grab a set of kettlebells and head for the floor, it’s important to note that this move is definitely for the more advanced athlete.
“You’ll need to have mastered perfect form in the basic push-up to advance to this,” says Mucci. “Things to keep in mind here if you’re ready to take it on: Keep your elbows back at a 45-degree angle to your torso, maintain a neutral spine, don’t tuck your chin and stay strong through your hips throughout the set,” she says.
5. Medicine-Ball Toss to Push-Up
“For the squat chest toss to push-up, make sure you stay low in your squat while tossing and catching the ball,” she says. “Place your hands on the ball beneath your shoulders and then hop back to a plank position before lowering into the push-up.” The push-up uses a narrower grip, so Mucci says to keep your core strong.
6. Single-Leg Swiss-Ball Inverted Row
“It’s a great advancement from the inverted row, but there are some key things to keep in mind,” he says. Keep your hips elevated so your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to the ankle that’s on the Swiss ball, be sure to press your anchoring foot down (into the ball) to activate more of the stabilizing muscles in your legs, consciously engage your core to keep the ball from moving around too much and squeeze your shoulder blades together as you pull yourself up.
7. Medicine-Ball Push-Up to Side Shuffle
“If you have limited time and want a high heart rate sweat session or to change it up for a superset on leg day, this combination is great for you,” says Urban. She does say to be careful with your lower-body joints because these exercises require a lot of attention and footwork. “If you’re unsure of the correct form, break down each exercise before putting this all together.”
8. Running-Man Dips
Your core is involved in nearly every move you make. Yet it’s often one of the most neglected areas of the body. The good news is you don’t have to grind out hundreds of crunches to train these powerful muscles. If you have access to dip bars or a captain’s chair (likely through your gym), try the running-man dips.
This abs circuit with @kaisafit will show you how to transform some traditional moves into an intense workout by adding core and plyometrics to your routine. To add these moves into your overall workout, Urban recommends incorporating the exercises individually on a strength day. For example, do the dip “run” on chest day and the pull-up kick outs as a finisher to your back day.
9. Single-Leg Deadlift Double Tap
“You only need two dumbbells, and the combination of moves will really make your legs burn,” she says. Urban recommends doing each exercise for 40 seconds with a 20-second break for three rounds. “This ends up being a 12-minute workout that’ll make you think you just had an hour at the gym,” she says.
10. Kettlebells Four Ways
“This combo connects back, core, shoulders and glutes,” says Urban. “Ideally, you’ll use heavier weight for the deadlift part, but this combination is good for practicing some forearm strength and shoulder stability.” Oh, and the pass-through is definitely harder than it looks! Urban says you’ll need to get each move down individually before you put this together.
11. Rowing-Machine Hamstring Curl
That’s why she recommends performing this exercise toward the end of your leg workout for some isolation hamstring work. Her number-one tip: Make sure you keep your hips high, glutes tight and core engaged so you don’t hurt your lower back. And if you’re looking to challenge your lower body, try the single-leg version.
12. Squat With Biceps Curl
There’s nothing like targeting the two Bs (booty and biceps) at the same time. This compound exercise from @getfitwithgiddy is a spinoff of the squat to shoulder press move. Both are great go-to movements, as they incorporate multiple joints and muscle groups. Giddy’s variation has the edge, though, as it increases your lower body’s time under tension (great for building strength).
But Urban says doing a biceps curl instead of a press and doing it at the bottom of a squat instead of the top can wrench your back if you’re not careful. That’s why she says to make sure you keep your weight in your heels, don’t let the weight pull you forward and stabilize your core. “I really like this exercise because it’s very functional,” she says. Think of all the times you squat down to pick something up.
13. Glute Dumbbell Lift
“Proper glute and hamstring engagement is paramount to performance, and this exercise does a great job of lighting up both muscle groups,” he says. Since it’s a pretty short range of motion, Rashid says to perform it slowly and really focus on building that neuromuscular (mind-body) connection for efficiency. If you’re looking to crank up the intensity, Rashid recommends incorporating a pause at the top to increase time under tension (think longer hold, greater booty burn).
14. Battle Ropes Lunge
“Exercises performed in this position are all about control, not maximum effort or peak strength,” he says. And when used properly, Rashid says it can build a solid base for strength training, serve as a diagnostic tool and help determine if one side is stronger than the other. When setting up keep a narrow support base, engage your glutes (on same side as dropped knee) and keep the torso upright.
15. Zumba Cardio Drills
“I suspect those with a background in dance might have an easier time with the choreography component, but the individual exercises have merit in isolation as well,” says Rashid. The main challenge here, he says, is the Spider-Man push-up, a combination exercise requiring heavy core stability, a horizontal press and fair amount of coordination to execute. If done correctly, Rashid says they’re a great finisher to incorporate toward the end of a circuit.
16. Single-Leg Walk Out to Unilateral Push-Up
Rashid says if you want to incorporate something like this into your program, he views it as more of a progression on your dynamic warmup than a standalone exercise (depending on your fitness level, of course). Make sure to pay close attention to your hips and lumbar spine while lowering your hands to the ground.
17. Bulgarian Shoulder Press
If you’re looking for an efficient way to strengthen your upper and lower body at the same time, this workout from @blogilates might be worth trying out. But before you bust out these moves, Rashid says to be careful of the combination moves (i.e., the biceps curl to shoulder press), since you run the risk of compromising form, so perfect your form before cranking out reps.
That said, the rest of the circuit is fantastic, especially the Bulgarian shoulder press. “On this movement pay close attention to the direction of your pelvis (avoid excessive anterior tilt on the bottom of the movement), keep your core tight and be mindful of your shoulder mobility on the press,” he says.