If you’re bored with your same old workout routine, your muscles probably are, too. And if you want to see results, you’re going to need to change things up.
Your body adapts to the same old routine. New routines help shake things up both physically and mentally. Also, as you get stronger, you have to kick up the challenge a notch if you want to continue to see results.
Try the following seven popular exercises with simple yet challenging variations to boost your results, up your calorie burn, and take your workout from good to great. Do these two to three times a week; start with one or two sets and work up to three to four sets of 10 to 12 reps, unless otherwise noted.
1. Side-to-Side Jumps
Plyometric side-to-side jumps (a.k.a. ski jumps). Ski jumps add intensity, work the deep muscle fibers and add an element of balance and coordination.
How to do it: Place a jump rope or other divider on the floor next to you. Imagine you’re a skier doing moguls, and quickly jump side to side over the divider, taking care to land each time with your feet hip-width apart. Start with 50 jumps (25 per side).
2. Weighted Step-Up
This move uses weights (start with five- to eight-pound dumbbells) for greater glutes and core activation than lunges.
How to do it: Place your right foot on a four to six inch step or curb. Push off with the left leg to raise your body onto the step, placing the left foot next to the right foot. Slowly shift your weight to your right foot and lower your left foot back to the floor and completely step off platform by following with your right foot. Repeat 10 to 15 times, alternating lead legs.
3. Push-Up on a Bosu Ball
The unstable surface of a Bosu ball makes muscles work harder to maintain balance.
How to do it: Flip the Bosu over onto its dome, flat side up. Grip the sides of the platform or place your hands on top of it and perform a push-up. Keep your body in a straight line and keep your core engaged the entire time.
4. Medicine Ball Planks
Adding a medicine ball under your feet (harder) and/or hands turns a ho-hum move into a power workout.
How to do it: Perform a traditional plank exercise but start with your feet and/or hands on a sturdy medicine ball; keep your body aligned without allowing your hips to hike up or sag. Hold for 20 to 60 seconds,
5. Inverted Rows
The inverted row is super effective for the lats (back), and requires major core activation but with minimal shoulder stress.
How to do it: Lie on your back under a fixed horizontal bar (or a broom handle anchored on propped up on the seats of two sturdy chairs) and grasp the bar with a wide grip. Keep your body straight as you pull yourself up towards the bar; slowly lower yourself to starting position and repeat.
6. Chair Squats
The slow descent of this move works the glutes and quads (thighs) and takes stress off the knees.
How to do it: Hold onto five- to eight-pound dumbbells and position yourself in front of a sturdy dining room chair. Keeping feet shoulder width apart, abs engaged, head up and eyes looking forward, slowly lower yourself by bending at the knees and hips, until you sit on the chair. Pause for only a second (do not bounce) and then slowly return to starting position without locking knees.
7. One-Arm Chest Press On Fitness Ball
This one-armed press on a fitness ball provides core stability and strengthening, with less stress on the shoulders than you get with a flat bench press.
How to do it: Start by sitting on a fitness ball, holding on to a five- to eight-pound dumbbell in one hand. Walk out and allow the ball to roll out until you’re in a stable, table-top position, hips and thighs parallel to the floor, knees at a 90-degree angle and head and neck supported by the ball. Holding on to the dumbbell, and with your other arm across your midsection for balance, bring the dumbbell out to the side with your elbow at a 90-degree angle, wrist stacked directly above your elbow. Push up and slightly towards the center by extending your arm; slowly return to starting position. Repeat 12 to 15 times and switch arms.