Many athletes eventually find themselves, at some point or another, bored with their regimen. This is understandable and honestly, a natural response when you consider how most ‘guides’ and ‘routines’ are bland and hardly novel. This is usually more evident the more popular it is.
So, what’s the extremely complex solution to this simple problem? FUN. After all, variety is the spice of life- or so the saying goes. Rambling aside, we’ve gathered 15 different novel exercises to skim over to include in your regimen. They’re diverse and very versatile (and easy to do!).
In addition, we carefully selected and provided these specific novel exercises, each with their own unique set of instructions, to fit just about any regimen. Regardless of your goals, you’re bound to find one perfect for warming up or ending with. That said, we won’t hold you over any longer.
1. Burpees, 100 Reps
Difficulty: Easy | Force: Push, Compound | Gear: None | Target: Legs, torso, arms, butt, back
Popularized by the U.S. Navy Seals, Burpees have been a novel training exercise for decades by both world-class athletes and armed forces alike. There are 5 steps to performing a full burpee like the one listed here (some variations modify steps) and are surprisingly easy with practice. Not made by CrossFit, it’s also widely seen as one of the novel body conditioning exercises.
Burpees require very little space and no equipment. Standing, jump as high as possible. Once you land, drop down (squat) into a pushup position (hands slightly wider than shoulder width) and do a pushup. Kick your feet back to a squat position and stand up to then jump and repeat.
Pro Tips: For each step, inhale on your way down and exhale on your way up. With burpees, try to maintain a fast yet fluid and controlled motion.
2. Barbell Hip Thrust
Difficulty: Intermediate | Force: Push, Isolation | Gear: Barbell, Bench | Target: Upper legs, butt
Ok, I know what you’re thinking- hip thrusts? That’s novel? Listen, it’s the current year and the limits of what and what doesn’t go don’t exist anymore… so it’s not really a taboo. Truth is, there aren’t better ways to sculpt a butt and upper leg. Try it once and you’ll keep coming back.
Barbell Hip Thrust Directions
Begin by placing a pre-loaded barbell on the floor parallel to a flat-bench. Roll it forward far enough so that you can sit on the floor and elevate your back against the side of the bench. Slide your legs underneath the barbell and roll it back until it stands directly above your hips. Next, pull your legs back to your chest and bend your knees up to prevent the bar from moving.
Using a pronated (overhand, palms facing down) grip, and grasp the bar with each hand at about shoulder width. This will be your starting position.
Exhale and engage your legs to drive the barbell up until your hips are parallel with the ground. Your back should move simultaneously with your leg’s and eventually flatten out on top of the bench. Once your torso’s in line with your legs, pause for a second and hold this position.
Inhale and slowly lower the barbell down until it’s just above the floor. Use your legs to resist any momentum and don’t let it touch the floor until your set’s done. Repeat for desired reps.
Pro Tips: Keep your head forward and back rigid at all times as you move during the exercise.
3. Smith Machine Calf Raise
Difficulty: Easy | Force: Push, Isolation | Gear: Smith Machine | Target: Med + Lat Calves, soleus
The Smith Machine is one of the most treasured and highly versatile machines in just about any gym. One novel variation is the calf raise. This is an excellent machine alternative if lacking other equipment as it does a fantastic job isolating and shredding the lower calves.
Smith Machine Calf Raise Directions
First set the machine’s bar to shoulder height, then load your desired amount of weight. Next, find a calf block (slightly elevated flat step) and position it under the bar. Now step up onto the block and inch back until everything except the balls of your feet are hanging over the edge.
Resting the bar against your traps, grasp it with both of your hands using a wide-grip and press up to de-rack the bar. Slowly lower yourself until your heels are stretching beneath the block.
This will be your starting position. Exhale and drive your heels up as high as you can by pushing through the balls of your feet. Your lower legs should bear the brunt of this tension. Once at the top, inhale and again slowly lower yourself down back to the starting position for one full rep.
Pro Tips: The difficulty of this exercise depends on how far the balls of your feet are to the edge. The closer they are the harder it’ll be while the farther they are the easier it is. Remember to stay rigid, use the whole range of motion (full stretch), and not to let your heels touch at all.
4. Stability Ball Jackknife
Difficulty: Easy | Force: Pull, Compound | Gear: Swiss Ball | Target: Abs, butt, upper legs
This novel exercise is on par with #3 in regard to ease of use. The only equipment you need to execute it is a simple swiss ball. Your body recruits a wide range of stabilizing muscles throughout the motion and particularly works your core, obliques, and upper legs.
Stability Ball Jackknife Directions
Find a stability ball and place it on the floor in an area with a decent amount of free space to move about in. Then, kneel down and lay your midsection on top of the ball. Now slowly crawl forward with your hands until your lower shins are fully extended and in line with the rest of your body. Your body should be in a push-up position and hands about shoulder-width apart.
This will be your starting position. Exhale and bend at the knees to slowly pull the ball into your chest. Remember to keep the movement controlled and steady without flaring to either side. Inhale and slowly lower your knees back to their starting position. Repeat for the desired reps.
Pro Tips: When beginning this exercise, ensure you execute the full range of motion (even if this means losing reps). Do this by keeping the ball at the top of your shins and bringing your knees all the way into your chest. Remember to keep your neck neutral (face forward).
5. Dumbbell Step Up
Difficulty: Easy | Force: Push, Compound | Gear: Dumbbells, Bench | Target: Butt, Quads, Legs
Dumbbell step ups are a rather novel exercise and only require a flat elevated surface, like a box or bench. Light, additional weights are totally optional depending on your fitness level. It targets a variety of muscles, namely your butt (glutes), hip, quads, and calves to name a few.
Dumbbell Step Up Directions
Grasp a low-weight dumbbell in each hand and let them freely hang by your sides. Stand up straight at shoulder width facing the side of a flat bench. This will be your starting position.
Exhale and slowly step up onto the bench with your left leg. Inhale to regain your breath. Now exhale again and this time bring your right leg up next to your left leg on the bench.
Next, step down off the bench with your left leg followed by your right until they’re both on the floor. Repeat while alternating this motion for your desired amount of reps.
Pro Tips: It’s easy to ‘cheat’ and let your back lean forward and round out- don’t let this happen. Keep your head up and body straight at all times. Only your legs should perform the movement.
6. High Reverse Plank
Difficulty: Easy | Force: Push, Isolation | Gear: None | Target: Core, shoulders, butt, rear legs
It’s no secret the old fashioned routine can get boring and, well… not novel. Switch things up a bit by including or (swapping) one of your normal movements with a high reverse plank. This plank variation targets a wide range of different muscles and lays down the hypertrophy well.
High Reverse Plank Directions
Lay down on the floor with your back and extend your legs out at about hip-width. Your feet should point at the ceiling and your heels touch the floor. Ensure your body is always straight. Then, place your hands vertically down on the floor behind you with your palms facing forward.
This will be your starting position. While keeping your body totally straight, exhale and raise your hips up until your arms are fully extended. Hold this position for your directed amount of time or until reaching exhaustion. As you hold, inhale and breathe like you normally would. After you’ve completed your set, slowly reverse the motion and lower your hips to the floor.
Pro Tips: Maintaining proper form on high reverse planks is critical for achieving results. If you feel your hips start to lower or the tension switch somewhere it shouldn’t, stop and continue after you’ve had time to recover. You can increase its difficulty by setting a plate on your abs.
7. Weighted Push Up
Difficulty: Easy | Force: Push, Compound | Gear: Plate | Target: Biceps, triceps, pecs, delts, core
Push-ups are widely viewed as one of the best novel movements in exercise history. From the endless variety of challenges to its use in the military and sports sector, it’s clear they’re here to stay. Problem is, you’re limited in how much iron you can push. The solution? Weight plates. You will, however, also need a spotter to add, remove, and keep the plates steady on your back.
Weighted Push Up Directions
Begin by setting up into a normal push-up position, legs out and straight in line with your torso. Your hands should be at shoulder-width and your elbow bent about 90-degrees while your feet support your legs. Remember to keep your head forward. This will be your starting position.
Signal your spotter to carefully (slow and gentle) start adding the weight plate(s) on the center of your upper back. Once added, inhale and slowly lower yourself down until your chest almost touches the floor. Then exhale and focus on pushing your torso back up to your initial position.
As you descend and ascend, your spotter should make sure the weights aren’t moving around. Your spotter should also be the only one to add or remove weight. Do not roll sideways to throw the plates off to prevent possible injury (unless in an emergency when there’s no other option).
Pro Tips: Remember to keep your body straight throughout the entire movement. To prevent excess wear on your joints, keep your arms tucked in close to your sides without touching.
8. Captain’s Chair Leg & Hip Raise
Difficulty: Easy | Force: Pull, Compound | Gear: Cptn’s Chair | Target: Abs, obliques, upper legs
Also known as the vertical leg and hip raise, this novel exercise helps enhance various muscle groups, namely those centered on stability and strength. More specifically, performing a vertical leg and hip raise will primarily target groups like your abs, legs, hips, and also waist.
Captain’s Chair Directions
First, get into position and stand with your back against the padding. Place your forearms on their respective paddings and grasp the handles with a neutral grip. Now lift yourself up so that your legs hang and lower back presses against the rest. This will be your starting position.
Exhale and flex your hips, waist, and legs to bring your knees up toward your chest until they almost touch. Pause for a second at the top and squeeze your core. Now, inhale and slowly lower your knees back to the starting position, resisting any momentum on the way down.
Pro Tips: Increase the difficulty by either straightening your legs (harder variation) or hold a dumbbell between your feet. Remember to keep your head forward and, unless you raise your hips out, always keep your lower back pressed against the pad to prevent lower-back problems. Sustained hyperextension of your lumber (lower) spine is harmful, so take the movement easy.
9. Swiss Ball Decline Push Up
Difficulty: Easy | Force: Push, Compound | Gear: Bench | Target: Pecs, triceps, shoulders
Also known as (and interchangeable with) the stability ball push up, the Swiss ball decline push up is one of most novel variations you can use for noticeable results. Unlike using a bench, which allows for an improved focus without instability, the swiss ball instead swaps isolation with destabilization. As a result, your core’s then also recruited to help maintain stability.
Swiss Ball Decline Push Up Directions
Like #4, begin by finding a stability (Swiss) ball and set it down in an open area. Approach it from behind from the direction you’ll be working out and lay your midsection on it. Extend your arms onto the floor and slowly crawl forward until your body’s straight and feet are on the ball.
Your hands should be slightly past shoulder width (not completely tucked or flared). Remember to keep your head forward and body straight. This will be your starting position. Inhale and flex your elbows to slowly lower your body to the floor. Once there, hold for a moment and squeeze.
Exhale and use your arms to reverse the movement and push yourself back up to your original starting position. Repeat this motion for the desired number of repetitions.
Pro Tips: This novel exercise’s difficulty is dependent on your body’s position relative to the ball. The farther out you’re extended, the harder it will be and vice versa. You can also increase the base difficulty by wearing a weighted vest (just make sure it fits snug and won’t shift).
10. Barbell Squats, 100 Reps
Difficulty: Easy | Force: Push, Compound | Gear: Barbell | Target: Adductors, quads, hams, butt
As you may already know, squats are among the most novel exercises in most gyms for numerous reasons, but namely because of the anabolic environment they create. If not already done frequently, the occasional squat session makes them very useful for sculpting leg muscle.
Barbell Squat Directions
Begin by adding a moderately comfortable amount of weight to a racked barbell at collarbone height. Next, crouch under the bar and position yourself so that it presses against your traps (not shoulders). Arch your back slightly and grasp the bar at shoulder width with both hands.
Drive the bar up through your legs until you’re standing. Carefully take a couple of steps back and space your feet out to shoulder-width. Your toes should be slightly pointing away from each other. Remember to always keep your head forward. This will be your starting position.
While keeping your torso upright, inhale and start the movement by slowly squatting down. Do this by pushing your butt out and gradually bending your knees forward at the same time until they’re at a 90-degree angle. A good way to think of it is as if you were sitting down in a chair.
Now, exhale and power your upper legs to bring yourself back to the starting position. While your movements reverse, keep your torso upright and head forward. Repeat for desired reps.
Pro Tips: Start with a low (or none) amount of added weight to practice proper form. Keep your back straight and head forward to prevent potential issues such as rounding and strain.
11. Body-weight Full V-Up
Difficulty: Easy | Force: Pull, Compound | Gear: None | Target: Abs, Sides, Upper legs
Also known as a jackknife sit-up, this novel strength exercise utilizes your body’s own weight to isolate and work your whole core. Some of these targeted muscle groups include your abs, obliques, waist, and upper legs to name a few. It also engages your back as a stabilizer, too.
Body-weight V-Up Directions
Begin by sitting down and then lying supine (chest up, back down) on the floor. Retract your shoulder blades and extend your legs out in front of you. Next, stretch your arms out straight above your head. Your body should be completely straight. This will be your starting position.
Exhale and engage your core to simultaneously raise your arms and legs up in the air as high as they can go toward each other. Once they touch (or get close), pause for a moment and squeeze your core. Inhale and reverse the movement to return to the starting position.
Pro Tips: Good form is vital for properly completing a full range of motion V-Up repetition. If bodyweight is too easy, increase the difficulty by keeping a weight plate steady on your abs.
12. Landmine Row
Difficulty: Easy | Force: Pull, Compound | Gear: Landmine | Target: Back, sides, arms, chest
Also commonly referred to as T-Bar Rows, this trainer favorite novel exercise provides a healthy medium of different worked muscle groups that help tone muscle mass and improve stability. These groups are shown in the picture, but the primary targets are across the back. That said, landmine rows are rarely used despite their great effectivity, so it’s usually open!
Landmine Row Directions
Find and add a moderately comfortable weight onto a landmine bar. If it’s your first time, or it’s just been a while, start light and gradually work your way up from there. Once you’ve added the weight, stand over the landmine bar so that it’s centered on the floor between your legs.
Next, bend your knees forward slightly and push your butt out while simultaneously lowering your torso toward the bar. Keeping your back straight and head forward, take both hands and grasp the bar just underneath where the weight plates rest. This will be your starting position.
Exhale and flex your back to pull the bar up to your chest until they nearly touch each other. Only your arms should move as you pull. As you pull, keep your elbows tucked in as close as you can to your sides. Pause for a second at the top and squeeze your back.
Inhale and slowly lower the bar down until it’s just above the floor to complete one full rep. Only set it on the floor when you’re finished with your set. Repeat for the desired amount of reps.
Pro Tips: For an optimal range of motion, pull the bar up with your elbows. Remember to start off with a light amount of weight first to prevent injury and practice correct form.
13. Straight-bar Cable Pull-down
Difficulty: Easy | Force: Pull, Isolation | Gear: Straight bar, Pulley | Target: Lats, arms, pecs
The straight-bar cable pull-down is a fan favorite novel exercise that’s commonly used for effective muscle growth. While it mainly emphasizes growth in your lat muscles, it also gives your shoulders, chest, and arms a decent workout.
Straight-bar Cable Pull-down Directions
First, attach a straight bar to a high cable pulley machine and adjust the weight to a moderately comfortable level. Extend your hands out and grasp the bar at shoulder width with a pronated (palms down) grip. Bend at the hips slightly to lean your torso forward about 30-degrees and take a couple of steps back. Your elbows should be slightly bent. This is your starting position.
Exhale and flex your lats to slowly pull the bar down and backward until your hands are next to your thighs. Once there, pause for a second and squeeze your back. Inhale and slowly reverse the movement to return your original starting position. Repeat for the desired amount of reps.
Pro Tips: Besides your arms, remember to always keep the rest of your body stationary. You can also perform this exercise unilaterally one arm at a time to correct any muscle imbalances, like one arm being stronger than another, by replacing the straight bar with a D-Handle (stirrup).
14. Decline Push Up
Difficulty: Easy | Force: Push, Compound | Gear: Bench | Target: Pecs, biceps, triceps, shoulders
The third and final push up variation on this ranking utilizes a flat bench, although any stable, elevated object can suffice. This novel exercise emphasizes isolation and stability above all, so you can expect some major post-workout hypertrophy after performing a few sets of these.
Decline Push Up Directions
Lie down flat on the floor perpendicular to an open flat bench. Assume a regular push-up position after placing your feet on the bench. Fully extend your arms slightly past shoulder width to prop up your body. Keeping your head forward, your whole body should be straight.
This will be your starting position. Inhale and flex at your elbows to slowly lower your body to the floor. Once at the bottom, pause for a moment before exhaling and reversing the movement to push your body back up to its initial starting position. Repeat for the desired number of reps.
Keep your body straight. Don’t allow your belly to sag or neck to extend as you near the floor. Keep your elbows tucked into your body a little. This will reduce the pressure on your shoulder joints. If possible, use a stability ball in lieu of a bench
Pro Tips: Keep your body straight and head forward at all times. You can increase the difficulty by wearing a weight vest and decrease by backing your legs up (less tension).
15. Sumo Squat + Sumo Deadlift
Difficulty: Easy | Force: Push, Pull, Compound | Gear: Barbell, Rack | Target: Legs, butt, back
The ‘Sumo’ variation differs from a regular squat and deadlift movements because of its novel wrestler-derived stance. As a result, you end up with a more enhanced ability to target deeper muscles just a little bit harder. This exercise combination essentially works to perfect that.
Sumo Squat + Sumo Deadlift Directions
Position a loaded barbell over your traps and grasp it with both hands past shoulder width. Stand up, driving through your heels and take a couple of steps back from the rack, spread your feet wider than shoulder width and pointing out. This will be your sumo squat starting position.
Keeping your entire upper body still and slightly leaned forward, squat down (push your hips back and slightly bend your knees forward) like you’re sitting in a chair. Exhale and slowly return to the starting position by pushing through your heels. Now rack the bar and prepare to deadlift.
Stand in a wide stance and point your feet out. Now bend over by flexing your hips back while simultaneously leaning your torso forward and grasp the barbell on the floor with a pronated grip and both hands at shoulder width. This will be your sumo deadlift starting position.
Keeping the bar just in front of your body at all times, exhale and slowly push up through your legs until you’re standing completely upright. Once there, inhale and slowly allow the bar to descend back down to the floor while pushing your hips back and lowering your torso with it.
Pro Tips: Remember to keep your head forward and to maintain proper form at all times. To increase difficulty, hold each exercise’s peak for a couple of seconds and actively squeeze their respective muscle groups before returning back to a starting position for more hypertrophy.