Strength training is an important part of any fitness routine. It can be easy to get stuck in a workout rut, performing the same exercises over and over until boredom or plateaus sneak in. If you find yourself returning to the same machines at the gym, it’s time to add some new moves to your routine. You’ll beat boredom, build new muscles and get closer to your overall fitness goals. Ready to try something new? Do these five strength exercises – they’ll take your workout to the next level.
Squat to Overhead Press
This exercise will target multiple muscles from your arms, shoulders, glutes, quads, thighs and hips. Since the squat to overhead press uses dumbbells, it can be done as part of your gym or home workout.
- Begin by standing with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart with a straight back.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in.
- Look straight ahead.
- Inhale, contracting your abdomen and pressing the dumbbells straight up over your shoulders until your arms are fully extended and palms are facing out.
- Exhale, bending your knees and hips to lower into a squat position.
- Aim your hips backwards and try to get your thighs parallel to the floor.
The side plank works your entire core, but also targets a muscle called the Quadratus Lumborum. This often-weak muscle in the posterior abdominal wall is a hip and spine stabilizer, so the side plank can also protect and benefit your back.
- Lie on your right side with your legs straight.
- Use your right elbow and forearm to prop your body up. Inhale.
- Exhale, raising your hips until you form a straight line from your shoulders down to your ankles.
- Breathe deeply while you hold the pose for 30 seconds, then slowly lower your hips to release.
- Switch sides and repeat.
- Progress to longer periods of time in side plank, working toward 60 seconds or longer.
The barbell deadlift sounds scary, and it can look intimidating if you have never tried it before. But this one exercise will build strength in your quads, hamstrings, glutes, spinal erectors, lats, traps, abdominals and forearms. The deadlift strengthens the back and results in improved posture. With so many benefits, this is one move that should definitely become a part of your routine.
- Begin with feet shoulder width apart.
- Inhale, bending at your hips and knees to squat down and grab the bar.
- Arms should be straight, and your lower back should be slightly arched.
- Keep a neutral neck by looking forward and slightly up, but not down.
- Tighten the muscles in your core and back.
- Exhale, standing with the barbell by pushing with your legs, not lifting with your back.
- Visualize your feet pushing the floor away from your body, and don’t allow your lower back to round.
- Arms, shoulders and back should remain straight, and knees and feet should point forward.
- You should be standing tall in an upright position, bar just below hip level, with legs straight and hips open.
- Inhale, slowly lowering the bar. Repeat.
A dolphin pushup is based on a yoga pose that strengthens the core, upper back, lower back and shoulders while being gentle on the hands and wrists. Dolphin pose is a common variation of other poses that can add stress to bad wrists and hands.
- Begin on all fours with your forearms flat on the ground shoulder-distance apart. Inhale.
- Exhale, lifting your hips and straightening legs until your body resembles an upside down V.
- Inhale, reaching your chin toward your thumbs and lowering your body almost to a forearm plank. (Your legs will not extend to a full plank, since they’re a step or two closer to your elbows to allow full extension.)
- Exhale, lifting your hips and returning to dolphin.
Lunges increase power and strength in the legs, and the added balance element will improve coordination and work your core. This exercise targets abs, hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings and calf muscles. Move slowly through balance lunges and focus on maintaining your balance; don’t rush through this move.
- Begin by standing two to three steps in front of a bench or chair.
- Place your hands on your hips.
- Inhale, placing your right foot back to rest on the bench or chair.
- Exhale, slowly lowering your body in a straight line and bending at the hips and knees until your left thigh is parallel to the ground.
- Inhale, resting for a moment and maintaining your balance.
- Keep your eyes gazing straight ahead at one spot and your abs engaged to help keep from wobbling.
- Exhale, and push through the floor with your left foot to slowly rise to an upright position.
- Repeat on one side until you’ve reached your desired amount of reps, and then switch legs.
By incorporating these five strength exercises in your fitness routine, you’ll work all of the major muscles in your legs, arms, core and back. Don’t be afraid to try something new, and shake up your regular workout routine.