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Exercise

Creating a lighter, healthier you is a multi-step process. One of the most important steps, and the main focus of this section, is exercise. Here we explore everything from the benefits of exercise to how much and how often it is necessary to promote weight loss.

Why These 10 Unique Exercises Are Worth Trying

If bored with your standard exercise routine, shake up your workouts with these 10 unique ideas!

Why These 10 Unique Exercises Are Worth Trying


Whether CrossFit, running, Peleton biking, walking, or doing the same routine at a gym, everyone can get stuck in a workout rut with the same exercises on repeat. Adding in unique or underrated exercises can not only help keep exercise interesting but also provide benefits of strengthening muscles that often get overlooked.

Are you getting bored of the same old fitness routine? Shake up your workouts with these 10 unique and underrated exercises that can yield great results!

10 Underrated Exercises to Add to Your Fitness Routine

No need to completely overhaul your fitness routine, but changing up some exercises here and there can go a long way. Add these unique and unusual exercises to your workout rotation for a variety of strength gains and keep exercise interesting and enjoyable.

1. Racewalking

Walking seems to be underrated related to its feasibility. You may often even think, "Walking is substantial exercise?" Yes! Walking is one of the most approachable and practical exercises many can enjoy. 

However, an unusual cardio exercise called racewalking can add intensity to workouts and may even be faster than running! Racewalking is an Olympic sport; there are many racewalking clinics and clubs around the USA. 

What's more, racewalking can easily be implemented on your own by following practical racewalking tips.

2. Stair Exercises

Stairs can be found in a wide variety of areas – the Stairmaster at the gym, at your home, in a sports stadium, etc. The availability, though, is not what makes this workout so appealing. Running and stepping the stairs is a highly effective leg workout and cardiovascular routine.

Besides running or stepping the stairs, you can take it a step further by doing different exercises such as sumo squat jumps, side hops, or jumping jack squats on the stairs instead of flat ground.

3. Rowing

On a body of water or in the gym, rowing is an extremely efficient strength and unusual cardio workout. Not only will you break a sweat, but your entire body will thank you. If done with proper technique, rowing can utilize up to 86 percent of the muscles in your body, according to a 2019 article from Rowvigor

With proper technique, rowing can target the upper, lower, and core areas of the body. It is a low-impact exercise meaning it is easy on the joints and can also be used for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercises.

4. Yoga

The slowness and fluidity of yoga may rank itself as an underrated workout. However, do not let the ease of yoga fool you!

Yoga is a significantly valuable exercise component to strengthen the core and other muscle groups. It enhances strength and flexibility while encouraging meditation through breathing techniques and promoting mental benefits

If wanting a more unique workout, look for yoga classes that offer more strength focus or try hot yoga for a deeper burn.

5. Jumping Rope

Say hello again to childhood memories! The renowned jump rope is a simple, yet effective piece of equipment. 

Jumping rope gets the heart pumping while strengthening muscles in the legs. Like rowing, it can be a unique workout for strength conditioning and cardio in one.

Although oftentimes a warmup, jumping rope can be a workout in itself or complement other exercises. There are many different jump rope videos to follow along with to offer variety and fun for this dynamic, challenging workout. Jump rope can also be a fun exercise to do with your kids

No rope? Simply jump your feet and mimic the motion for an effective bodyweight exercise!

6. Dancing

Dancing is an underrated exercise due to the fact it does not actually feel like exercise. However, workouts can be fun and dancing is a way to prove it! The movements of dance workout classes and videos utilize a wide variety of muscles while increasing heart rate, crowning it to be a full-body workout.

Dancing for fun (and exercise) can range from ballet, ballroom, hip hop, line dancing, or anything in between. If joining a dance class intimidates you, try doing a dance video from the comfort of your own home for a fun, unusual cardio exercise.

7. Kettlebell Swings

Grab a set of kettlebells and get to swinging! Through swings, parts of the back, core, and upper arms and legs are targeted. Improvements in posture can also be correlated to kettlebell swings. 

Swinging kettlebells can add a different dynamic to strength training compared to traditional lifting exercises with weights.

Since kettlebells come in various sizes, choose a weight that best accommodates your strength. Increase weights and reps once a size becomes too easy and less effective.

8. Calf Raises

Working the calves is oftentimes overlooked. However, strengthening them is highly important. Strong calf muscles help further support cardiovascular exercises such as running and cycling. Jump roping, as mentioned above, is also another way to strengthen calf muscles.

Add dumbbells to calf raises for maximum intensity, but only if you feel comfortable enough to do so, as pulling your calf can be particularly unpleasant for day-to-day walks and tasks.

9. Single-Leg Squats

Yes, single-legged squats take a little practice. But continuously practicing and perfecting the form can be substantially effective. Not only are the legs becoming toned, but the abdominal muscles are getting put to work. Since it takes tremendous balance to squat on one leg, the core is becoming strengthened with each squatting effort.

Start with bodyweight single-leg squats and work up to adding extra weight, whether from holding items around the house like gallon jugs or using weights.

10. Oblique Exercises

The obliques can be an overlooked area when trying to achieve that "six-pack." Although they do not form the inner core, the neighboring obliques should not be ignored. 

Strengthening the oblique muscles still contributes to an appealing and strong core. Strong obliques can also help support a strong spine and help improve performance from quick athletic moves that involve twisting. 

Examples of underrated oblique exercises can be weighted side bends, side planks, or plank mountain climbers.

Top Underrated Exercises Recap

It can be easy to get into a workout rut by doing the same exercises. Adding in unique and underrated exercises can not only add fun and variety to working out, but these additions can also strengthen muscles in a different way by recruiting overlooked muscle groups. 

It can also provide flexibility, balance, and mental health benefits. For example, adding in some dancing, jump roping, kettlebell swings, race walking or yoga can all challenge the brain and nervous system in a good way.

Adding in calf raises, single-leg squats, rowing, and stair exercises can add a deeper layer of strength training to your usual workout routine. 

References:

A lower body workout you can do on your stairs. TODAY. Published November 17, 2020. https://www.today.com/health/how-tone-your-legs-5-exercises-bring-burn-t104521.

Bumgardner W. How to racewalk like an Olympian. Verywell Fit. Published May 30, 2021. https://www.verywellfit.com/how-to-racewalk-p2-3436286

Perry C. 7 exercises to tone your oblique muscles. ACTIVE. Published February 15, 2016. https://www.active.com/fitness/articles/7-exercises-to-tone-your-oblique-muscles

What muscles does rowing work and what are the benefits of rowing? ROW ViGOR. Published March 6, 2019. https://rowvigor.com/rowing-machine-workout/.

Sydney Lappe's Photo
Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on July 06, 2016. Updated on July 19, 2022.

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