If you are a gym-rat, then there is no doubt that you have spent a great deal of time trying different workouts and different lifting routines. And after a good amount of time, you have probably settled in to a routine that works well for you. However, even for the seasoned gym-junkie—and also for the newbie who simply wants to try something new—there is a certain pleasure that comes from attempting an unusual lifting session. Furthermore, when you are having an off-day and just don’t feel like working out, trying an unorthodox routine just for one bout at the gym can help push you into the weight-room when you otherwise might not have gone in. And so, to that end, here are four unorthodox lifting-routines that you may not have tried before, but which make for great single session lifts when you want to experience something new.
The One-Minute Set
The One-Minute Set is a good routine to use when you are relatively pressed for time but you want to get in a solid work-out on a number of different muscle groups. In essence, decide which exercises you want to do for your lifting session. Then, for whatever exercise you are planning on doing, put about 50% to 70% of your maximum lifting weight on the bar. Once you are ready, watch the clock and when a new minute starts, begin the exercise and max out. The moment you are done, rest, but watch the clock. The second the clock changes to the next minute, do another max-out set. Repeat this one time each minute so that you are doing a set every minute. This does not mean that you are resting for a minute between sets, but rather, that once every minute, you are doing a full max-out set. So, in ten minutes you will have done ten sets; and in just a thirty-minute workout, you will have potentially done thirty max-out sets. And the next day, you will hurt. And that is a good thing!
The Super-Heavy Negative
The Super-Heavy Negative workout is for those days when you want to lift really heavy, but your energy is not there for some reason. So, in light of that fact, this workout makes you lift heavy, but there is a lot of down-time in-between if you want it.
To get started, decide what exercise you want to do and then put yourself in a lifting cage or other location where there is something that can definitely catch the weight for you. Make sure everything is safe and the weight will not drop on you! Then, on the bar, put on from one-and-a-half to two times your one-rep max; the weight should be low enough that you can get it off the bar yourself at full extension but heavy enough that you could not even do a single full rep with that weight (and note that due to the strain on your joints that this workout causes, it should only be done by experienced lifters). Once the bar is off, slowly lower it down until it eventually catches on whatever safety device you are using; note that lowering the bar should take as long as possible, even upwards of a minute if you can do so. Finally, once the bar is down, then, if you have a partner, lift it back into the starting position, or, if you are working alone, then take off the weight until you can do a normal set, do the normal set, put the bar back up, and then reload the bar with the super-heavy weight for your next negative.
Note as well that while this type of set works well for bench-press and shoulder-press, etc., it likely seems harder to do for any pulling exercises, such as for your back. So, if you want to do super-heavy negatives for your back, you can do something like the following: if you are on the back-row cable machine, for instance, then choose a weight that you can do with both hands but not with just one, which will thus allow you to pull the weight into position with both hands, but then do the super-heavy negative back-row with just one hand. If fact, you can do a super-heavy negative in each hand, then max out with a regular set of back-rows.
So this kind of lifting, whether pushing or pulling, will make you work.
This is more of a fun routine that is ideal when you are feeling a bit mischievous and want to be free of having a set routine for the day. So, for this routine, just go into the weight-room, then randomly decide what area of the room you will walk to. Once there, randomly decide what exercise you will do, and then randomly decide the weight you are going to lift (within your reasonable limits, of course). Essentially, the goal here is to make everything you do in the weight-room random. And if you are the type of person who simply cannot make random-like choices by yourself, then pick two different exercises and fill a coin to decide which one to do (or use a dice-throwing app on your phone or something similar to make the decision for you). And use this same procedure for how much weight you will lift, how many sets you do, etc. In the end, the point is to let chaos take its course and have a good time.
Death by Dumb-Bell
The final type of routine is for when you are really pressed for time in the gym but you feel like your whole body needs work. Indeed, this is the routine to do if you only have ten or fifteen minutes to workout but you still want to hit all the major muscle groups.
So, once in the gym, find yourself an adjustable bench and grab a set of dumb-bells which might be on the light-side for compound lifts, and heavier for individual lifts, but which you can lift for almost all exercises. Then, with the bench there, start hammering out a single set of a certain exercise until you max out, and then immediately switch to another exercise and max-out, and then repeat this sequence until your workout is done. So, for example, do a shoulder press, then front shoulder-flyes, then shrugs, then bicep curls, then dumb-bell squats, then lunges, and so on. The point is to cover your whole body in a short amount of time, and to do it in a way which also gives you some cardio benefits. And this workout achieves exactly that.
So, these a just a few of the unorthodox workouts that you can do on the odd day that you do not feel like doing your regular routine. These unusual routines are enjoyable and likely quite different from your regular workout. And so, hopefully trying one of them will motivate you to head to the gym even on a day when you really just don’t feel like it.