When's the last time you surprised yourself in a workout? We don't mean by things like scoring a new bench press PR. That's great and all, but can you recall a time you identified a weak spot or tried something new, like a class, that really surprised you in the best of ways?
No? You're among good company. Most of us fall into a routine that works with our schedule, complies with our strengths, and (at least for a while) provides noticeable results. Problem is that comfort zone isn't conducive to building new muscle, illuminating imbalances or weaknesses, or keeping you engaged in your workout. Things get boring, your muscles adjust, and over-use injuries can occur.
So, take this as a challenge to break your routine. Don't obliterate it—just step outside of it once and again to refresh your mind, wake up your muscles, and get some areas working that might not see much action in your current regimen. Take a look at these 7 novel workouts. We're willing to put money on the fact you've never done half (probably more) the ones we've highlighted. Give 'em a go.
Speedo and EXOS created Speedo FIT, a total-body aquatic training program that will crush your expectations of a pool-based workout. Stretching, cardio, resistance, and strength training—in water—will elevate and complement your land-based training regimen whether you're looking to improve power, endurance, or recovery. Speedo offers free videos available at SpeedoUSA.com that detail nearly 70 moves. They're also working with EXOS on a certification program for trainers, which should be available in the coming months.
Pilates challenges your body by putting you through unfamiliar movements that work muscles many guys typically neglect. It seriously hones in on your core as well as helps build flexibility that can make you a better lifter. You can do Pilates on a reformer machine, which uses pulleys that help you work on increasing your range of motion, or you can do mat Pilates that requires no equipment at all (though tools like the infamous "Pilates ring" can take things up a notch or 10).
New York Pilates even has a dedicated class for guys (appropriately named "Brolates") that focuses on developing the muscles you rarely use and building up your deep core muscles. The class uses the reformer, but founder Heather Andersen provided these two at-home Pilates exercises that target your lower abs:
Starting position: Lie on your back with your hands behind your head and your knees in a table top position (knees bent with thighs perpendicular to the floor).
Exercise 1: Keeping your knees in the tabletop, try to "imprint" your entire lower spine onto the floor by engaging your low abdominals. Then, bring your lower back into a neutral spine—so you have a small amount of space under the low spine, but the hip and pubic bone are all in the same plane. Complete 10 reps. *This exercise strengthens your lower abs and mobilizes your lower back.*
Exercise 2: Keeping your lower back in a neutral spine, alternately extend your legs, one after the other. Make sure to use your low abdominals to keep your spine from shifting. Complete 20 reps; then, repeat with both legs together. *This move strengthens your lower abs and stabilizes your lower back.*
Are stationary bikes just too, well, stationary for you? If you're itching to go someplace, take THE TRIP: a 40-minute cycling class that combines technology and sweat in the most motivating way, transporting you to different worlds, real and imagined. You can take a class at studios in New York City (including TMPL Gym), Santa Monica, and abroad for 9 total cities (10 locations—two in Paris). The innovative cycling experience uses digital projection on cinema-size screens to give you the illusion of climbing up the side of a super-steep glacier, a virtual reality chase with futuristic riders through space age cities, and the impression you're sprinting across lava flows. Your indoor cycling workouts have a sense of purpose, a competitive edge, and a huge dose of fun. You'll stop thinking about the workout and create new limits.
Pedaling through water may sound like the antics of a drunk man, but cycling underwater is hugely advantageous (and fun!). For one, the water pressure and temperature serves as a sort of detox massage: the pressure kneads your leg muscles while the 85-degree water stimulates the cleansing action of your lymphatic system, which they say can help rid your body of toxins. Water is 1,000 times thicker than air, creating extra resistance for your body to work through but extra buoyancy to support joints. The result? A killer workout with little risk of injury. You can burn up to 800 calories, they say, as you tone your muscles: win-win.
At Y7, you can combine your love for Drake and yoga. And if you only love one of those, then you'll learn to love the other. The studio provides a 60-minute class that balances high-intensity strength work, heat, and calming deep-breathing exercises. Flow along to the latest beats in relative darkness and completely lose yourself. Been afraid to embarrass yourself? Y7 is for you. Come Thru, From Time you'll have newfound strength, clarity, and learn to Own It—your love for yoga, that is. (By the way, these are all Drake songs, so you might want to brush up.)
Brooklyn Zoo NY is the latest and greatest parkour training facility. Revel in a form of movement and fitness you've never experienced before or hone your parkour skills; they offer a bevy of services such as: ninja warrior training, trampoline-ing, tumbling, tricking, dance, and more. Experienced instructors will work you through progressions and pay special attention to detail to make sure your technique and style are on point so you don't break your neck on Day 1 (or ever). Go on, monkey around.
Torch your muscles and lungs like never before with the The Kranking® Training System. This class is like cycling for your arms and gets you training like a professional sailor (ORACLE TEAM USA uses a similar machine) utilizing arm ergometers. One of the only (if not the only) exercise program to focus entirely on the upper body as a way to build cardio fitness, you'll build a greater aerobic capacity, pack on some serious muscle as well as definition, and burn up to 11 calories a minute.