Unique Workouts – 3 Uncommon Exercise Strategies for Gains


Early on in my fitness career, I learned that working out like most other people was going to bring me the type of results most other folks achieve. Nothing against that, but I’m not cut out to be an “Average Joe”. I’m here to be a stand out, someone who is a little left of center. The last thing I want to do is fit in a nice little category in a fitness encyclopedia. I guess that’s why I’m always looking to run as much against the common fitness trends as possible.

My workout strategy is very much based on this philosophy. It’s very easy to spot me in any big commercial gym because I’m the one who’s sticking out like a sore thumb. My methods are heavily based on using 3 uncommon exercise strategies.

I don’t do these exercise techniques just to be unusual while working out. I do them to gain results that are far different from the norm. They give me capabilities and a physique that makes people stop and take notice.

If you’re looking to break away from the pack and blaze your own trail then read on my friend. The following simple “tricks” will gain you a body that looks and performs unlike anyone else in the gym.

Unusual Workout Strategy #1: Hanging Around
At least 1/3 of my entire workout strategy involves hanging from something. Hanging is one of the best ways to develop a strong and impressive upper body. It also helps you build insane grip strength, shoulder stability, and an ability to move without your feet on the ground.

Most folks have issues with hanging from an overhead object which is a shame. Your entire upper body from your fingertips to your spine has evolved to reach up and hang from things like tree limbs and ledges. There is no method that’s safer, more effective and more fun than to hang from your arms. You were literally built to hang.

Of course, our modern culture doesn’t require you to hang much. As a result, chances are you have eons of evolutionary strength and capability that’s dormant and waiting to be unleashed.

Be aware though that if you haven’t been hanging around much you’re grip and other hanging attributes are going to be pretty atrophied. That’s okay. It just means that you have a lot of strength that’s been hibernating and it’s not going to take much to wake up your potential.


There are all sorts of fantastic hanging exercises. Pull ups always come to mind, but there is so much more! Hanging leg raises are also another great exercise to explore. Forget about the bottomless chair where you can pick up your legs or those ab slings you can hang from a pull up bar. Those things are good to get started with, but they are like training wheels on a bicycle. Good to get the general idea, but they should be discarded if you really want to advance to a high level of strength.

But don’t stop with just pull ups and leg raises. Play with various levers, holds and anything where you can move your body through space while hanging from a bar.

Also, don’t limit your grip to a nice, perfectly shaped handle or bar. Hang from odd objects like rocks, ledges, tree limbs, the crossbar on Smith machines, towels and ropes. The more variety in your gripping surfaces the stronger and more functional your entire upper body will become..

Unusual Workout Strategy #2: Get Inverted
Like many folks, I’ve had long-standing issues with going upside down. Even a simple sit up bench or decline bench press was enough to make my feel uneasy. Over the years, I’ve worked on becoming more comfortable with bringing more body weight over my head. It’s one of the most rewarding workout methods I’ve come to use by far.

Since we live most of our lives upright or horizontal, gravity is constantly pulling us in the same general direction. When you get upside down, the pull of the ever-present force flips and now everything gets turned on its head, literally. Your core muscles have to stabilize in a whole new way, your shoulders now have to handle and stabilize your weight, and even your circulatory system needs to become stronger to keep blood flowing. You can even feel your breathing change when you go upside down.

The most popular form of inversion is often to use inversion tables or boots where you can hang upside down. This is a great way to relax the body in an inverted state, but I find you’ll have far more exercise variety and benefits from holding yourself up rather than just hanging from your feet.

Flipping your body upside down forces your arms to now work like your legs. Imagine how strong and capable your legs are, even if you don’t work them all that much. Just think how strong your upper body can become when you start supporting more of your weight through your arms and shoulders!

You don’t have to go into a full handstand to gain the benefits. There is a plethora of exercises such as the downward dog in yoga and even the simple bridge can bring some measure of inversion to your training. Just placing your feet up on a bench or chair can help you start to tip your body in the right direction.


Unusual Workout Strategy #3: Locomotion
Walk into almost any gym and chances are most, if not all of the people working out will only be moving a select part of their body. Either their arms will be moving, their legs or maybe even just their feet. Most of the exercises will involve keeping the person stationary while one part of their physique is moving in a short repetitive motion.

This is why I incorporate locomotion into much of my training. I aim to physically move my entire body from one area to another. Walking and running is the most common form of locomotion but there is also lunging, skipping, jumping, crawling, and even swinging from one hanging position to another.

Locomotion is incredibly functional because it requires constant application of balance, strength, shifting of weight and coordination. It also fires up the nervous system for endurance and control. It’s funny how many strong people can lift up a heavy weight, but then struggle to carry that weight around.

I used to face this a lot back in the day when I delivered treadmills. Sure, I could lift up the heavy equipment, but carrying it through the house and up a flight of stairs was a whole different challenge. It’s certainly one thing to lift up your body or a heavy weight. It’s another thing entirely to actually move that weight around.

Locomotion also helps to maintain joint health and keep injury at bay. With most exercises, we use our muscles in a very dedicated and repetitive way. Often this sets up our body to be strong and stable within narrow and very defined movement patterns. Of course, life doesn’t always follow such movement patterns. Stepping on a stair machine is very different from running up a rocky mountain trail where every foot step is unique.

Locomotion helps break your movement out of the up-down-up-down box that characterizes most exercises. It rounds out the corners and fills in the cracks where your strength and control may be lacking. It creates more of a well-rounded use of your muscles and maintains joint mobility better than the short stretching sessions typically done at the end of a workout. I recommend shooting for at least one exercise that involves locomotion per workout. It can be using your legs, arms or both.

The best thing about these forms of exercise is that they don’t require much in the way of equipment or resources. They don’t take much time and can easily be incorporated into any warm up and workout method. So start getting a little creative in your next workout. Within a few weeks you’ll find yourself looking and performing above average and standing out from the masses!

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About Author

Matt Schifferle

My name is Matt Schifferle and I'm an A.C.E. Certified Personal Trainer, CrossFit Level 1 coach, underground strength coach and I'm a 5th degree black belt in Taekwon-Do. I specialize in outdoor and playground based underground and CrossFit style bootcamps. See my profile page for more information!

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