How to Make 7 Common Exercises More Challenging AND Effective


How easy is it to fall into a regular exercise routine that doesn’t change for months on end?  Maybe you mix the order of things up, but do you find yourself doing the same type of exercises week after week?  It’s an all too common occurence; we find some exercises we enjoy, we get comfortable doing them, we’re feeling pretty confident we at least half-way look like we know what we’re doing, and end up sticking to what we know.  The problem is, we stop pushing our bodies harder, progress slows, and despite being “comfortable” when we’re at the gym or working out at home, we’re not doing much more than wasting time.

If you’re ever going to achieve that cover model body, you’re going to have to make some changes.  Luckily, these changes are easily done and highly effective at jump starting your progress.  By simply modifying some of the most basic exercises, you’ll be able to burn more calories, pound your muscles harder, and make better progress in less time.  The key is knowing how to sufficiently turn up the dial on some of these exercises in a way that is going to really push your body and challenge your limits.  Today, we’re taking a look at how you can increase the difficulty of some of the most common exercises to burn fat, build muscle, and get into the best shape of your life, FASTER than ever before.

Seven Common Exercises Made More Difficult

Do THIS: Weighted Burpees

In place of: Burpees

By now, you probably know what a burpee is.  It’s a great exercise that really helps spike your heart rate, burn calories, and slash through fat.  It’s plyometric in nature, so gives the added benefit of helping you build lean, explosive muscle.  Unfortunately, even the burpee can get a little stale and lose its effectiveness over time.  To keep you on your toes, we’re bumping things up by introducing some weights into the mix.


Do THIS: Crazy Planks

In place of: Planks

The plank is a tried and true exercise which really helps strengthen your core muscles.  If you weren’t aware, this includes your abdominals, obliques, and lower back muscles.  We’re going to up the ante on the regular plank by adding some additional movement to this exercise.  By alternating a knee in, kick out, followed by a straight leg raise, you’re going to put additional stress on your core muscles, while also hitting the muscles in your hamstrings and butt.


Do THIS: Weighted Leg Raises

In place of: Leg Raises

The leg raise is an all too familiar sight in living rooms and gyms across America.  This core exercise is great at hitting the lower abdominals and hip flexors, but after a while, it just seems to lose its effectiveness.  With weighted leg raises, we’re adding load to this movement, making it a more total body challenge that is sure to help you pack on muscle and rev up that metabolism.  Hold a barbell (maybe even stacking it with weight!) as though you at the top of a bench press while performing the leg lift.  This additional load is going to hit the stabilizer muscles in your chest, shoulders, and arms, while continuing to deliver the six-pack making goodness that standard leg raises deliver.  If you want to really amp it up, consider pressing the bar between each leg lift.


Do THIS: Twisted High Knees

In place of: Running in place

The run in place is an often overlooked exercise that is perfectly created to help jump your heart rate and get your burning calories.  Especially awesome for those of you working in a smaller area, running in place is a staple in many workouts you’ll find around the web.  If you’re looking to really bump this up, grab yourself a dumbbell, and while holding it out in front of you, twist side to side as you continue with your high knees.  This one may take a little getting used to, but once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll see just how much of a total body conditioner twisted high knees can really be.


Do THIS: Barbell Squat Jumps

In place of: Squat Jumps

Squat jumps, or a similar variation (think: box jumps) are a pretty standard exercise in most any plyometric cardio routine.  Great for burning calories, upping your metabolism, and building lean muscle, this exercise is most definitely one to consider.  Nonetheless, even something as great as the squat jump is going to lose its ability to transform your body over time.  To keep challenging your lower body muscles and pushing your cardiovascular system, it’s time you added a little weight to the mix.  Throw a barbell over your shoulders and perform the same basic movement.  Little harder, huh?  Give this one a go and remember to always increase the weight your holding as you get stronger.


Do THIS: Kick Up Climbers

In place of: Mountain Climbers

By now, you know mountain climbers are a great way to hit your cardio hard, while also throwing a little plyometric action into the mix.  Mountain climbers will help push your heart rate, target your core, and strengthen your lower body; but like any other exercise, they can’t be used exclusively if you want to keep making progress.  To make the standard mountain climber a bit tougher, we threw in a high kick up after every two reps.  This added movement is going to burn out your calves, quads, and hamstrings, while leaving you gasping for air.  Give this one a try to see just how much tougher a little kick up can make this exercise staple.


Do THIS: Hang Snatch

In place of: Snatch

The hang snatch is a great compound, power exercise that is going to help pack lean, shapely muscle to your frame in a hurry.  While the standard snatch is a great exercise, the added variety of using a barbell allows for greater weight, while hitting your muscles in a slightly different way.  Hitting your muscles from a variety of angles is one of the key elements to making noticeable muscle gains.


Turn it Up to Make More Progress

The difference between making serious progress, lowering your body fat percentage, and transforming your body, is often the result of making minor changes to your fitness program.  Don’t overestimate the impact a slight change can have on your body; it doesn’t take much to make things more challenging.  When things become too comfortable, it’s likely because your body has adapted to a particular exercise or workout.  The feeling of comfortability is welcomed, and takes a concerted effort to work beyond.  If you’re training with specific goals in mind (and you should be) accept the challenge, embrace the different, and learn to recognize that being comfortable is NOT what you want when it comes to working out.

With these seven simple changes, you’re now in a better position to kick up the intensity on your workouts.  This new found intensity is going to help you burn more calories, strip away more fat, and change your body in a better and more effective way.  If you’re interested in how to make any other exercise more challenging, simply leave a comment below and I’d be happy to help you take things to the next level.



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