8 Exercises You Should Be Doing (But Probably Aren’t)

Fitness, Healthy Living, Lifestyle, Strength Workouts, Total Body Workouts, Training Advice, Training Tips, Workouts

By: Chris Freytag, CPT // December 23, 2014

Need a shake up in your workout routine? Have you been doing the same darn moves over and over for as long as you can remember? While knowing a workout can give you a sense of comfort and predictability, it also does the same with your body. And when your body gets comfortable with your workout, it ceases to respond. And you know what that means – plateau city. Yikes, all that work for nothing! Seems like a few changes might be just the thing you need to find a new you. These 8 exercises are often overlooked, but definitely worth your time and definitely worth adding to your workouts.

Here’s the plan:

  • You will need one or two sets of dumbbells, preferably a lighter and heavier set ready to go.
  • Go through each exercise at least one time through.
  • Once you finish the entire set, begin again at the top and, with a better understanding of what is to come, power through a second time for a stellar workout!


Get ready to change your backside! Surrenders are an underutilized little bit of magic for your behind. Done properly, your glutes are forced into action to push your entire body weight up, plus whatever dumbbells you are holding. Try for 12 each side, but be careful—this one sneaks up on you! You will definitely feel this the next day.

Chris Freytag demonstrating surrenders in a pink tank top holding black dumbbells

A) Start kneeling holding dumbbells at your sides. (Note: you may need to be on a mat or pad.)

B) Step forward with one foot and stand all the way up while pressing the weights overhead.

C) Kneel down one knee at a time returning the weights to your sides.

Repeat 12 times. Switch lead foot and repeat for 12 more.

Renegade Row

Your back muscles probably get the least amount of attention in your body. That’s because the exercises to target those muscles are more limited and if you aren’t in a gym with cables and machines, you’re left with very few options. The renegade row is an excellent exercise for targeting your rear deltoid and lat muscles, but it provides the bonus of a full body strength challenge and including your core! Just make sure to keep your abs very tight throughout and, if needed, drop to your knees until you build the strength to finish strong on your toes. For this one, choose heavier weights.

Chris Freytag demonstrating renegade row in a black tank top with black dumbbells A) Begin in a full plank with dumbbells in hands, arms extended, and on toes. (Kneeling variation is fine if you are not able to do a full plank.) Engage your abdominals drawing the belly inward toward your spine.

B) Pull one elbow up toward the ceiling hugging your side feeling the back of your arm engage and return with dumbbell to the floor with control.

Repeat on other side.  Perform 24 total rows (12 each arm).

Related: 10 Best Exercises For Your Bad Back

Plie V-Raise

The benefits of this one comes three-fold. First, by holding weight in front of your body while you squat, you are forced into using more core and going lower thereby firing your glutes much more. Second, the shoulder strength and flexibility are challenged, especially when combined with the squat move. Third, the plié part of this move targets your inner thighs as well as glutes, quad and hamstrings. For this one, choose lighter weights.

Chris Freytag demonstrating plie v-raise in a pink tank top using black dumbbells A) Stand with dumbbells in hands and feet slightly wider than shoulder distance apart, toes turned out, and bend the knees lowering down into a deep plié. Keep spine tall.

B) Squeeze glutes and straighten legs to come to standing. Tighten the abdomianls and lift your arms up and out forming a “V” shape. Lower arms to return back to the starting.

Repeat 12 times. Move slowly and avoid swinging your arms.

Spiderman Push-Up

Push-ups come in hundreds of variations. This one is a must to include in your workout routine. There’s no denying it’s a tough one, but we did decide it was time for a shake up, right? Read through the description and give it a try–at least a couple. If it is virtually impossible (not hard, IMPOSSIBLE) for your body, take the variation listed and you will still strengthen not only your chest, arms, shoulders and transverse abdomens, but the obliques will be on fire. Have fun, spidey!

Chris Freytag demonstrating spiderman push-up in a green tank top on a purple yoga mat. A) Start with hand on mat slightly wider than shoulders, legs long, and on toes in a full plank position with your abdominals engaged.

B) Drop into a push up by bending your elbows out to the side and lowering your chest toward the mat and pull the left knee toward the outside of your left elbow and hold for one count, then press up to plank returning your foot to mat. Repeat on other side. That’s one rep.

Perform 6 reps. That’s 12 total push-ups!

[Modification: If you struggle to complete even one, keeping the moves separate will help. So stay on both toes for a full push up, then pull right knee to right elbow. Then perform another full push-up followed by pulling left knee to left elbow.]

Shoulder T

The shoulder T is obviously great for strengthening the deltoid or shoulder muscle. The added benefit of this exercise is the “T” movement that takes place. By holding the weight long and opening the arms, you strengthen all the connective tissue surrounding the rotator cuff. This is a common area for injury so it’s a must to keep it strong all over. Just be careful to choose your lighter weights and move very slowly throughout. Slower is better on this one!

Chris Freytag demonstrating Shoulder T in a black tank top with black dumbbells A) Starting with feet together and dumbbells at sides.

B) Engage abs and lift dumbbells to shoulder height. Open arms out to sides rotating dumbbells parallel to the floor.

C) Return dumbbells back to the front of the body and down to sides with control working the shoulders.

Perform 12 reps.

Related: 5 Moves For Sexy Sculpted Shoulders

Stationary Lunge

I know what you’re saying: “I’ve done lunges forever. This is nothing new.” Perhaps the exercise isn’t new, but the execution might be. Time and time again I watch people go half way and never fully succeed into a full lunge position. In order to get your glutes to fire, you have to be willing to lower all the way until both knees hit a 90 degree angle. In fact, if your hip flexibility allows, you should be able to feel your back knee brush the floor before pushing back up to standing.


Chris Freytag demonstrating stationary lunge in an orange tank top A) Begin in a “split stance” position with right foot in front and ball of left foot on the floor behind you.

B) Stay tall with abs tight and lower your back knee toward the floor, even touching the floor if you can.

C) Press into your front foot to rise back up.

Repeat 12 times and switch feet.  Repeat 12 on this side.

Overhead Pull

If it seems like this has already been said, it probably has, but here is goes again:  This exercise does not get used enough! It’s such a great overall toner and one of the best ab exercises around- hands down. If your weights are heavy enough it’s nearly guaranteed to be noticeable in your sore core tomorrow. You will remember this one! Just move slowly and keep your back firmly pressed against the floor throughout.

Chris Freytag demonstrating overthead pull in a black tank top using black dumbbells A) Lie on back with knees bent and feet on the floor. Arms are extended in front of your chest to start. Engage your abdominals and keep back pressed into the floor the entire time.

B) Lower dumbbells past your head keeping elbows slightly bent. Keeping abdominals tight raise dumbbells back to ceiling working your arms and abdominals.

Perform 12-15 reps.

[Tip: If possible, lie on a bench to provide a bigger range of motion for your arms.  Leg the dumbbells go slightly below your head.]

Reverse Plank

The perfect ending to an awesome workout. This move not only strengthens your low back and hamstrings, but stretches and opens the chest and shoulders. It’s a must do!

Chris Freytag demonstrating a reverse plank in a green tank top on a purple yoga mat. A) Start seated on the floor with legs long in front of your body. Place hands behind your hips slightly wider than shoulders with fingers pointed towards your feet.

B) Lift hips and torso off the floor and gaze up toward the ceiling keeping your neck relaxed. Keep your body in a long line with softly pointed toes.

Hold for 30 seconds then release to floor slowly.  Rest 30 seconds, then repeat the reverse plank.
Now, are you finally ready to start doing the moves you been missing out on?!

READ THIS NEXT: 4 Must Do Exercises for Weight Loss

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