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What are Some of Your Favorite Unconventional Exercises?

I thought it’d be fun to share some of our favorite unconventional exercises that for whatever reason are really effective at hitting a muscle group for us even if you would never really see them in a pre-designed program.

A few of mine to get the ball rolling:

  • Pecs: plate squeeze, all I need are a pair of 10s. Especially great as a pre-fatigue exercise before any pressing.
  • Delts: seated muscle snatch
  • Upper back/rear delts: seal row w/ snatch-grip and elbows out OR landmine row with elbows out (think meadows row, only pulling it into your armpit instead of hip crease)
  • Hammies: single-leg landmine RDLs (I don’t care that these were part of that whole functional training wave…I can really isolate my hams with them.)
  • Glutes: reverse hyper on GHR machine (We don’t have a proper RH machine at my gym, so I do them on the GHR machine. Instead of adding weight I just tweak tempo, add iso holds, etc. to progress.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nx-0vHJrfhA

The everything: log viper press

Along with of course torching the shoulders, it absolutely obliterates your posterior chain, and will tear apart your conditioning as well.

Always liked Kelso Shrugs for upper back

High handle trap bar lifts for total body overload

OH, speaking of trap bars, the trap bar press is an amazing pressing exercise for hammering the shoulders from different angles than a barbell or even a swiss bar can manage. It’s like being able to really overload dumbbell pressing overhead.

I’ve also taken to doing long, slow, max distance keg carries on my back day as a finisher/burnout exercise


Did… did he bring his own log to a commercial gym?

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There wasn’t really a whole lot of places to train back then. That was a good era of strongman, haha.


You’d be surprised what we used to get away with. I had a big wooden box with a padlock full of odd lift stuff in a corner of the gym. Nobody screwed with it. We had tires in the parking lot, and a closet for implements. We brought people in, so we got to do stuff like that. Poundstone would have gotten away with a lot, he was a big name competitor.

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I love how his arms are white at the end, and his shoulders and traps are purple with blood.

Never before heard of kelso shrugs or thought to use a trap bar for overhead pressing. I’ll be sure to get both into my next training block!

What’s the best way to do it with a standard TB with the two sets of handles? I’m guessing use the low handles from underneath?

For rear delts

Mainly because I don’t really like reverse flyes…not sure if my shoulders just aren’t agreeable to reverse flyes, or I just suck at them…

Anyway, been wanting to ask…you guys think this substitute for flyes makes sense?

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I second this.

For a totally different stimulus, try trap bar pressing with chains. Massive instability, without messing about with kettlebells on bands or anything like that.

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Mine are probably more conventional than unconventional but here goes:

  • backward sled drag: nothing seems to generate quad burn like these over the course of 20-30 yards;
  • prowler pushing: I actually rank this as a total body movement. I’ve had DOMS in my arms after using this;
  • band-resisted exercises: given the supposed role the eccentric phase plays in hypertrophy, adding these both augments this phase and helps build mind muscle connection when coupled with slower, deliberate contractions. I particularly love it for landmine/viking pressing; also dips;
  • fatgripz: I rarely do DB presses without them; the rest of the time they are on my dip station;
  • tug of war: a bit like the backward sled drag; awesome move;
  • Swiss bar wall press: almost like a homemade Smith machine but the angle, as well as parallel grip, does not irk my dodgy shoulder;
  • Nordic leg curl: been a revelation for me given my dodgy lower back prevents any form of deadlift. Using bands to assist means I can execute both lower and higher rep ranges.

I don;'t know about unconventional, but I certainly have done some that always garner odd looks or questions.

-Reverse Grip military presses
-Hammer Curls laying prone on an incline bench
-Rope shrugs standing several feet back from the cable stack (shrugging at a 45degree angle)
-DB presses with 3 Olympic plates under one side of the bench (very slight decline)
-Scapular retractions (standing in the middle of a cable crossover machine)
-Incline High pulls (laying prone on an incline bench, and mimicking a high pull movement to target lower traps)
-Hammer Pulldown machine shrugs (basically the back movement solely with the shoulder blades and not bending the arms at all)

I’m sure there are more, but I’m still nursing coffee over here at my desk :slight_smile:


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Yup: out of a rack

Anything Zercher.

Various grips for pull ups
Vertical grips/Sticks

Various Grip strengthening exercises
Towel Hang
Thick rope Hang
Plate Switches - flip and catch one handed or two
Alligator smash w/ band res

Verious neck strengthening execises
Harness work - extension, flexion, cervical neck glides etc
bridge presses

Slush VP press

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Just playing around in the garage, and haven’t picked up an incline bench yet, so I did my best to mimic the movement with two cables while facing away from the machine. Not bad.


OP, may I ask where on earth you learned about SEATED muscle snatches? I’ve never heard of that before.

As for me, nothing… The only thing remotely unconventional in my list of movements is high pulls. But is it really unconventional when the bulk of all Olympic lifters do them?

However, I am thinking of doing isometric shoulder raises with dumbbells as a way of developing shoulder endurance for boxing. So that’s that.

I think I first saw it as part of a circuit in CT’s article on growth factor training for shoulders. I hit them in the 8-12 rep range and my delts get toasted.

I had done single-leg RDL with DBs before, mainly to save my lower back.

Well due to lockdown I had to be try other options so I tried those with a landmine (well, barbell stuck in a corner) and it’s now my favourite ham exercise. Both with the barbell in-line with the body or perpendicular to it. Just awesome, I advise everyone to give these a try.

Other “landmines” I started doing at home include:

landmine curls
landmine delt raises
landmine rows and meadows rows
landmine rotations
landmine shrugs (using a V-grip, I love the angle it hits the traps. I did this to mimic low cable shrugs).
All kinds of landmine presses, standing or laying down.

Other exercises include:
One arm Db presses with my back on a Bosu Ball (hey, it’s my gfs BB, alright)
GHR with my knees on the Bosu Ball

I know it’s a lot of “landmine” but I didn’t have a bench, and my gym resisted for quite a while before it closed down, so when it finally did, I couldn’t get a bench anywhere.
Actually it was for the best, all these exercises will be in my rotation.

Exercises that will not be in my rotation, but were useful considering the lack of options:

Landmine seated calf raises. Like this guy is doing here, but with the barbell positioned like in the bottom position in a lumberjack squat. I found it useful not just for loading purposes, but also balance.

Squats with the kids or GF on my shoulders. GF was gaining weight during lockdown, so that great, right? Progressive loading, yay! She really thought about me. On the other hand, she hasn’t lost the extra weight. I wish she’d think about me.


I was doing Meadows Rows long before they were called Meadows Rows so I’m gonna state them here lol. Which I understand provides no value to this thread but whatever it’s just one post.

Okok, I like doing any sort of machine exercise(other than the smith machine and leg curls) with bands. This was directly inspired by Meadows.


I used to do shrugs in the standing calf raise machine. That’s like awesome squared

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Hise shrugs yeah?