Without trying to reinvent the wheel, finding unique exercises that haven’t been performed to take your gains to the next level can be hard.
Those who have been lifting for a significant amount of time might get bored of certain exercises they have repeated ad nauseum for several years.
In my lifting experience, spanning three decades, I have come up with a few unique exercises you can try to take your lifting to the next level.
Let’s jump right in.
The 7 Unique Exercise Inventions You’re Not Doing
We will start with unique exercises we haven’t written about in the past.
First off, let’s target the arms with our adaptation of what we believe to be the best biceps exercise: the one-arm straight bar bicep curl.
Unique Exercises #1: The Herculean Hammer Curl
This exercise is fairly straight forward to perform, but it should be noted that you should keep a slow tempo and not ego lift.
You are to grab a light straight bar 2/3 of the way up with one arm and perform a hammer curl.
We have to stress that you make sure to use a light weight as a lot of energy will be expended to grab and stabilize the bar.
This is effectively a hammer curl on steroids — taking your forearms and bicep long head to the next level.
The ideal rep range for this exercise is between 8-12 per set as it is deceptively taxing.
Unique Exercises #2. The Best Row Ever (Invisible Chest Supported Row)
The Best Row Ever was something I created when screwing around while doing powerlifting accessory movements for the deadlift.
I was doing weighted back raises (or hyperextensions) and decided to start rowing the barbell at the top of the movement/lockout.
So, effectively, it is an invisible chest-supported row where you have to support your weight plus the barbell at lockout on the hyperextension.
Now, this exercise will kick your ass and take your pulling prowess to the next level.
It is a challenging isometric on your posterior chain that will have your glutes and hammies “vibrating” as you attempt to row the weight.
You have to lock yourself in place to perform the exercise safely and with good form.
The best rep range for this is between 6-12 reps — and it’s not for beginners!
Unique Exercises #3. Herculean Shoulder Complex
Our Herculean Shoulder Complex is a brutal 3-in-1 finisher for you to do on your shoulder day.
Grab a weight you can comfortably strict press for 15 reps and do this triset we’ve written about in our previous article here:
- One Overhead Press Variation
- One Lateral Raise/Wide Grip Upright Row Variation
- One Reverse Fly Variation
Complete all three movements for 10-12 reps with no rest between sets. Then, rest for 1-2 minutes before repeating.
As previously mentioned, you can use either dumbbells or a barbell to complete the movement.
However, it’s slightly trickier with a barbell.
You will have to do Wide Grip Upright Rows and a Wide Grip Bent Over Upright Row to focus on activating your rear deltoids for the final movement.
(I put Wide Grip in bold as narrower grips can cause shoulder impingements and even serious injury if not executed carefully.)
Unique Exercises #4. Tricep Trinity
The Tricep Trinity is a grueling tri-set designed to hammer your triceps with 3 evergreen exercises used in descending order of difficulty.
From our recent article on the Tricep Trinity:
By using the same weight throughout on an EZ bar, start off by performing Skullcrushers until you have 1-3 reps in reserve; then, perform JM Presses until you have 1-3 reps in reserve; and finally, do the same, but with Close-Grip Bench Press.
If you don’t have a gym, then, not to worry, you can follow the same schema with your bodyweight or a low horizontal bar.
Start off by doing Bodyweight Skullcrushers, Bodyweight JM Press, then do Close-Grip pushups to failure.
The principle behind this is simple: you are to become progressively more fatigued as the tri-set continues.
Your Skullcrusher should be weaker than your JM Press and your JM Press should be weaker than your Close-Grip Bench.
This tri-set can be done with NO rest period between sets and take your triceps to exhaustion.
As each successive exercise should be, on paper, stronger than the last, which is why it is to be performed in said order.
We recommend that you perform these at the end of your session as you shouldn’t have energy for much else.
You will receive a skin-splitting pump from this tri-set and an opportunity to make your arms bigger than you ever dreamed of.
In the past, however, we have advocated for what we coined “rebound drop sets” to take your body beyond failure and using burnout sets themselves as an opportunity to rest!
One of my other favorite tricep workouts is to do mega JM Press dropsets on the Smith Machine — Julius Maddox, the world’s strongest bench presser by far, does them so I’m allowed to do them too! — until I am completely burned out.
But this can be unkind on the elbows if the weight load is too high.
This is why we have suggested performing this exercise at a lighter weight (no more than 25-30% of your bench press 1RM) and with the EZ bar.
You should perform this exercise with the EZ bar as it is gentler on the wrists, elbows, and shoulders.
And although we like to train hard, we are also training for longevity.
Strong triceps are key to a big bench press, if you wish to obtain a program specific to bench pressing, try our eBook here.
Unique Exercises #5. The Herc Press
The Herc Press is one of our unique exercises that we have covered extensively.
Some lifters struggle to bring up their upper chest — and this reverse grip squeeze press can help beef up this oft-lagging area.
From our article of The Herc Press:
Traditionally, apart from general upper chest mass building exercises, the best way to develop this stubborn area — apart from favorable genetics — is the low-to-high cable crossover, focusing on squeezing at peak contraction.
However, it’s often relegated to the end of a workout and abandoned as a mere afterthought at times.
My friend and I can comfortably rep out 3 plates on the bench, but we struggled to hit 30lb DBs on this for ten reps.
This exercise DOES NOT require an awful lot of weight.
Using a combined dumbbell total of around 25% of your bench press one rep max is a good place to start before adding more weight.
And apart from tearing up the upper pecs, it will give your anterior deltoids and triceps some stimulation — like, practically all pressing exercises.
Watch his upper inner pecs
If you watch Julian, you’ll see that his upper inner pecs are significantly activated throughout most of the movement. And, unlike the traditional DB press, the Herculean Press starts significantly lower down, closer to the belly — which is something that might take some getting used to.
Unique Exercises #6. The Herc Squat
I have written about this particular exercise at length before.
It is a supramaximal Bulgarian Split Squat on the Smith Machine allowing you to handle weight loads well beyond your squat 1 rep max per leg.
The Herc Squat was one of the first of our unique exercises that we unveiled on our website as it proved remarkably effective to taking my squat and deadlift to new heights.
You’ll be thanking me for the enormous gains you’ll make to your deadlift, squat, and glute development; but you’ll hate me when you use the can in the days after training.
All you have to do is set safety pins on the Smith Machine, have a bench parallel to the Smith Machine, get under the bar, raise your inactive leg onto the bench–as if you were actually performing a Bulgarian Split Squat.
My twist here is the whopping overloading of the bar that you can get away with. The bar path is restricted by the Smith Machine itself, reducing the need to expend energy on stability.
The safety pins will stop the bar from descending too low to reduce the risk of injury.
Combined, you can really go to town in throwing the weight around.
Moreover, new accessory movements drilled into your program are easy to PR on.
When I first started these, I could do 3.5 plates a side. After a few months, this increased to nearly 5 plates a side.
My max squat at the time was in the mid-500s, and, within a year, I added over 60lb to my squat–mostly because of this exercise.
Unique Exercises #7. Rebound Drop Sets
Now, this makes our “unique exercises” cut due to the fact that it exploits the lowest weights in a burnout set as an opportunity to rest before taking on a heavier weight on the final drop set.
What makes this one of our unique exercises is that it enables you to train beyond failure, to a point you wouldn’t have dared to go before.
Towards the end [of a workout], on the final intended set, the weight had been dropped so low that, if anything, it helped me recover my energy levels, so I increased the weight back up and hit that to failure.
Traditionally speaking, on such a mega drop set, most lifters, instead of increasing the weight after supposedly going to failure on the final set, would finish the set there.
Instead, you can use the final intended set as a brief rest period, while continuing to tear down the muscle fibers, before increasing the weight to the penultimate set and cranking out more reps.
An example of a Rebound Drop Set would be as follows:
Take the triceps extension for instance:
|Total Weight (Resistance)||Total Reps|
On a traditional drop set the exercise would’ve finished after the 16 reps on 25lb resistance; but with the Rebound Drop Set, you will be using what would have been the final set as an opportunity to recover and go after more total reps.
This is an opportunity to go beyond failure in a method that is even more taxing than traditional post-failure methods.
It is also exploiting the use of lighter reps to somewhat recharge before truly exhausting the muscle.
Unique Exercises Conclusions
These unique exercises are not for beginners and were used to help me break plateaus in whatever respective discipline I was training for.
If you are an advanced lifter, by all means, you can try to implement some of these ideas into your program.
Our unique exercises are born out of years of trial and error — and it is not recommendable for you to try to create your own unique exercises unless you know your way around the gym like the back of your hand.
Don’t hesitate to email us at [email protected] for personalized coaching and a client questionnaire if you’d like DEDICATED tailor-made personal training on strength training, building muscle, losing fat, developing athleticism, and more — all to your liking, lifestyle, habits, and taste!
Alternatively, you can pick up a FREE eBook on fundamental strength principles offering an introductory workout program.