3 Non-Traditional Exercises to Add to Your Weekly Workout Plan

3 Non-Traditional Exercises to Add to Your Weekly Workout Plan

A lot of people get stuck doing the same exercises at the gym: bench-presses, squats, lat pull-downs, EZ bar curls, etc.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the tried and true exercises, in fact, I recommend performing most of them consistently.

However, in order to achieve the long-term results you are looking for in terms of muscle strength, size, and power gain, as well as fat loss, you need to mix up your routine and include new exercises in your weekly workout plan.

While there is certainly something to be said for consistency in your workout routine, your muscles eventually stop responding as much to the same stimulus over time.

Additionally, performing the same exercises week after week, month after month can more often than not become monotonous and lead to physical and mental burnout in the gym.

Therefore, it is critical to add new but effective exercises to your weekly workout plans, such as the ones below. Here’s a little fitness inspiration for you.

TRX Chest Press

Overview

Chest day is the best day, no?

But after months of bench presses, dumbbell bench presses, incline presses, and cable crossovers, it may be time to mix it up. That’s where suspension bands come in.

TRX are my tried and true brand of band, but there are many others on the market. There are a couple of advantages to using TRX bands.

First, bands force you to “conquer your own body” in space. This is important as it helps to build your core while also working the target muscle group.

Secondly, suspension bands can be taken with you and used pretty much anywhere, making them a one-stop shop for a great workout on the road or in the home gym.

How to Perform

To perform a TRX Chest press

  • First, stand facing away from the band’s point of contact with the wall, adjust your bands to about halfway length and grab each handle with an overhand grip.
  • Now, step forward and extend your arms until the slack is taken out of the band.
  • Next, lean forward, keeping your back straight, chest up and head straight, while walking your feet back toward the point of contact of the band.
  • You now should be in a push-up position, parallel to the floor.
  • To complete your first rep, press out in a slight arc until you are in the “up” position of a traditional push-up.
  • Lower yourself back toward the floor under control.

That’s one rep.

In order to decrease the resistance of the exercise, shorten the bands and step forward, away from the wall, both of which will force you to be less parallel to the floor, making the exercise easier to perform.

Recommended Sets/Reps/Rest Periods/ Rep Speeds

Set and rep schemes will depend on your goals and overall workout, but three sets of 8 – 12 reps would typically be prescribed for this exercise.

Box Jump

Overview

Squats and deadlifts are the default go-to leg exercises for developing muscular strength, size, and power.

However, including an explosive exercise such as the box jump will help you develop your fast-twitch muscle fibers in a way that other exercises that are performed at slower rep speeds will not.

Along with helping you develop power and explosion, box jumps also help to break up the monotony of leg day, which everyone could use from time to time.

How to Perform

To perform a box jump

  • Simply stand in front of a plyo box with your feet just wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Keeping your back flat, chest up, and head straight, bend slightly at the knees, hips, and ankles and immediately jump up onto the box.
  • Concentrate on landing on the pads of your feet, rather than your heels.
  • Attempt to land in the middle of the box, to ensure that it doesn’t topple over.
  • Hold your landing for a second, and then step off the side or back of the box and again land softly on the pads of your feet.

Recommended Sets/Reps/Rest Periods/ Rep Speeds

This is where most of the confusion of box jumping takes place.

Many workout programs use box jumps as a form of cardio or muscular endurance training, using sets of 20 and more reps or as many as possible in a given time period.

This use varies significantly from the traditional use of box jumps, which was to develop power and explosion. My opinion is that box jumps should primarily be used to develop power and explosion, rather than cardiovascular or muscular endurance because of the nature of the exercise.

Box jumps require a great amount of energy output per rep and place a significant pounding on the lower extremities that compounds significantly with a higher volume of jumps per session.

This simply doesn’t seem necessary to me when there are so many other exercises that can be performed to develop cardiovascular and muscular endurance that are inherently easier on the joints. Taking into account that we are focusing on power development, perform 4 sets or 4 reps with a full minute of rest between each set.

Overhead Shrug

Overview

The overhead shrug is a lesser known “finishing move” that can help you work on muscular imbalances in your upper back muscles.

The primary muscles involved in this exercise are the trapezius and deltoids, and also the rhomboids.

How to Perform

This is a unique resistance exercise, as it requires very little resistance to perform correctly. Additionally, this exercise has a short range of motion, as you are simply shrugging.  To begin the exercise

  • Grab an unloaded straight bar with your hands slightly outside shoulder width apart.
  • Press the bar over your head and extend your arms, this is the starting position.
  • While keeping your back flat, chest up, and head straight, shrug the bar from the starting position straight up using only your traps.
  • You will only shrug 2 – 4 inches; this exercise may feel awkward and could take some getting used to.

Recommended Sets/Reps/Rest Periods/ Rep Speeds

Perform this exercise toward the end of a shoulder or back workout.

Complete three sets of 10 – 12 reps with very lightweight.  Perform the reps on 2 or 3 second up and 2 or 3 seconds down sequence.

Conclusion

Mastering the main lifts and performing them consistently is critical to the success of any resistance-training program.

However, it is also important to work in new exercises in order to stimulate your muscles from different angles in order to get the results you are looking for.

Additionally, trying new exercises keeps your workouts interesting and your time in the gym more fun! Add these three moves your weekly workout plan next week.

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Matthew Johnson is a fitness writer, personal trainer, strength coach, as well as a former gym owner. Matthew holds an MBA from The University of Memphis and a Master’s in Exercise Science from Middle Tennessee State University. Matthew has also earned the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist credential from the NSCA. Matthew recently published his first book, 300 30 Minute Workouts for Busy People, and lives in Memphis, TN with his wife, Anna, and their dog Henderson, and cat, Sox.

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