These underrated exercises give you the greatest bang for your buck when it comes to burning fat, building strength, and improving cardiovascular endurance. Add these functional moves to your routine to get the athletic edge your workouts have been missing.
How: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your body into a squatting position, placing your hands on the floor in front of you. Kick your feet back so that you are in pushup position. Keep your hands firmly on the ground to support your body and lower your chest to the floor. Bring your chest back up. Kick your feet back to their original position, outside of your hands, stand back up by coming back through the squat position, and complete the move by jumping into the air.
Why: Burpees torch calories and improve conditioning using solely your body weight. This full-body movement works your arms, chest, legs, and abs. They are also great for conditioning. Try doing as many burpees as you can for one minute and see how your heart rate speeds up.
How: Stand with feet hip width apart, toes slightly outward while holding kettlebeel between legs with a double overhand grip. Thrust forward from the hips to bump kettlebell into motion doing a swing to chest level (Russian swing) or overhead (American swing). When receiving the kettlebell back down, allow the knees to slightly bend. Send the butt back and let momentum take the kettlebell down between the legs/inner thighs.
Why: Kettlebell swings are a highly efficient exercise and focus on the posterior chain. This classic movement strengthens your glutes, hamstrings, inner thighs, lower back, and abs. Load up to focus on strengthening your legs and then lighten up your load and go for high reps to elicit a heart-pounding, cardiovascular response.
How: Sit on the seat with head and back upright, looking straight ahead. The arms are extended in front of body and hips and knees are flexed. Take hold of the handle with both hands, keeping your arms shoulder width apart. Extend hips and legs forcefully while slightly leaning back. Pull handle to abs once hips and knees are straight. Once handle is pulled into abs, this is the finish. The recovery is this motion in reverse. Extend arms back out and slightly lean torso forward. The catch brings you back to the starting position, where arms are straight and shins are vertical.
Why: Not only is rowing a fantastic cardio workout, but the rowing machine is also an effective tool to work your legs and back without the impact effects of your joints of running. No matter how good you become at rowing, you’ll never outgrow this machine. Doing intervals on a rower allows you to achieve a tremendous power output, build your cardio and save muscle tissue you’ve worked hard to develop.
How: Hang from a bar with a double overhand, pronated grip and arms extended. As you pull your chin over the top of the bar, focus on retracting your upper back muscles. The only thing that should be moving are the joints in your elbows and shoulders required to pull your chin above the bar.
Why: The ability to pull your own body weight up is a great indicator of strength. Pullups are a tremendous way to build pulling strength by strengthening your shoulders, upper back, biceps, and lats. If you can’t do pullups, start with assisted pullups with a band, but remember, keep your body still and do not use momentum created by swinging your legs to raise your body up.
How: Begin by lying in a supine position and holding a kettlebell in your right hand. Think of opening your chest and keeping your right arm straight and locked. Bend your right leg; your heel must be close to your glutes but slightly outside. Position your left arm (free arm) about 45 degrees from your hip. Press through your right heel, contracting your glutes and standing up. Reverse the steps to lower yourself back down to the ground.
Why: What makes the Turkish getup so effective is this move engages every muscle in your body from your feet all the way to your hands and everything in between. This movement improves shoulder strength and stability and builds core strength. Since the Turkish getup is a unilateral exercise, this is a great tool to focus on body imbalances help strengthen your weaker and/or less coordinated side.
How: Start in a squat position, hips back, chest up. Hold two kettlebells in rack position. Drive up using an aggressive thrust, at the same time press the kettlebells overhead and fully extend arms into a press. Return to a squat position with butt below parallel, knees out and chest up. This exercise should be done as one continuous fluid movement. This same movement can also be performed with dumbbells.
Why: Targets: Thrusters work all the major muscles in your legs during the squat portion of the thruster. This whole body exercise is metabolically demanding and dramatically elevates your heart rate, which in turn will improve your cardiovascular performance and exhaust every muscle in your body.