The 10 Most Underrated Exercises to Build Resilience

underrated lifting exercises

Many people ignore a few underrated exercises that are probably the best for building strength, muscle, power, and endurance.

I’ve assembled the 10 most underrated lifting exercises that you know about but are not doing.

Such exercises are excellent for transforming your physique and scaling your fitness to the next level. However, they are challenging and require you to push a little harder.

Let’s find out which are the most underrated lifting exercises and why you should be doing them.

10 Most Underrated Exercises for Building Strength, Muscle, and Endurance

  1. Barbell Jammer
  2. Incline DB IYT Raises
  3. Dumbbell FDL Raises
  4. Dumbbell Power Maker
  5. Turkish Get-Up
  6. Dumbbell Surrender
  7. Barbell Hack Squat
  8. Dumbbell Cluster
  9. Farmer’s Walk
  10. Weighted Push-up

These underrated gym exercises are good for building muscles, increasing weight loss, and helping you achieve your best physique.

The best thing is that you don’t need fancy gym machines to perform them. They are free-weight exercises that require only barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells.

1. Barbell Jammer

The barbell jammer is an effective exercise that targets multiple upper and lower body muscles, such as quads, calves, hams, glutes, shoulder, chest, and core.

It burns decent calories, gives you a quick full-body workout in a short duration, and makes you stronger, faster, and shredded.

However, only a handful of people know about it.

I first discovered this exercise on the American Council of Exercise (ACE) website, and since then, I’ve started doing it consistently.

The barbell jammer can be a great addition to any training program, whether you want to shed fat or gain lean mass.

It will be challenging at first, but once you practice a couple of times, you’ll be able to do it efficiently.

Steps to Perform:

  1. Place the end of the bar in a corner of a wall or something so it stays intact.
  2. Put the desired weight into another end.
  3. Stand upright with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and toes pointing out. The bar will be between your legs.
  4. Lower into a squat position, grab the bar firmly with both hands and hold it to chest level with your elbows bent. This will be your starting position.
  5. Pushing your feet onto the floor, drive your hips forward as you return to standing.
  6. Once you’re in the standing position, don’t stop. Instead, raise your heels off the ground and press the bar in front of your head simultaneously until your arms are fully straight.

2. Dumbbell IYT Raises

The incline dumbbell I-Y-T raises is an upper-body exercise that builds up several muscles at once, particularly the back and shoulders.

I found this exercise in the ACE-sponsored study last year when I searched for the best dumbbell back exercises backed by science.

The study has shown that I-Y-T highly activates the traps, infraspinatus, and deltoids simultaneously and builds a sculpted torso.

Even though it is super effective for muscle building, it is one of the most underrated exercises in the fitness world, and you rarely see anyone doing it in the gym.

However, if you want to maximize your muscle growth and tone upper body muscles, especially delts and traps, you can include IYT raises in your workout program.

Steps to Perform:

The IYT is made up of three movements: I raise, Y raise, and T raise. Let’s see how to do them step by step.

  1. Holding a pair of dumbbells, lie prone on a 30-45 degree incline bench with your face down, chest rested on its edge, and your arms hanging straight downward. It is your starting position.
  2. Raise your arms in front of you as high as possible, pause for a moment, and then return to the start.
  3. Now, raise your arms slightly outward, making a Y shape, until you feel the full contraction in your medial and posterior delt and upper back. Hold for a few seconds, then lower the dumbbells to the starting position.
  4. To perform the last move, raise your arms out to the sides until your arms are parallel to the floor.
  5. Pause for a moment and lower your arms to complete the first rep.

3. Seated FDL Raises


The FDL raises are a multi-joint exercise that involves three different movements: front raises (F), diagonal raises (D), and lateral raises (L).

The combination of F, D, and L raises hits the front and medial deltoids and helps you build aesthetic shoulders with dumbbells only.

You can do this exercise both in a seated and standing position.

The seated FDL allows you to lift heavy dumbbells, while the standing one requires more ab involvement.

Steps to Perform:

  1. Holding one dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip, sit on the edge of a flat bench with your feet firmly on the ground. Keep your core tight and back straight. That’s the start.
  2. Raise your arms in front of you all the way over your head so your arms are straight toward the ceiling. Hold for a moment at the top and then slowly return to the start.
  3. Now, raise your arms slightly out to the sides to form the “Y” letter. That’s Y raises.
  4. To do the last move, raise your arms outward so that they form a 90-degree angle. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly return the dumbbells to the start.

4. Dumbbell Power Maker

The power maker is a blend of several exercises, including push-ups, renegade row, power clean, and push press.

It targets multiple muscles simultaneously throughout the body, primarily the chest, back, abs, and shoulders, and helps build strength, power, and endurance.

Despite its effectiveness, the power maker is not as popular as clean and press, thruster, and kettlebell swings.

However, if you want to enhance your athleticism, torch quick calories, and build a toned physique, I recommend adding it to your training program.

Steps to Perform:

  1. Grasp one dumbbell in each hand and get into a high plank position with your arms straight below your shoulders and feet two times hip-width apart.
  2. Perform a pushup. As you complete it, lift your right arm off the floor and row the dumbbell at your side. Then, repeat the same on your opposite side.
  3. Now, return to the standing position, perform one regular squat, and push through your heels to stand upright and press the dumbbell overhead. That is your one repetition.

5. Turkish Get-Up

The Turkish get-up is a full-body exercise that involves lying on the floor and standing upright while holding a kettlebell above one’s head.

It engages many muscles throughout the body, specifically the abdominals, shoulders, and back.

It helps enhance your shoulder’s strength and mobility (because it involves holding the bell stationary overhead), improve mind-muscle connection (because you’ve to keep your eyes on the bell throughout the movement), and bolster your abdominals and obliques (because you have to keep your core tight from start to end), and makes you flexible and correct posture (because it involves keeping your torso twisted).

Even after making your body more functional, the Turkish get-up is not as popular as it should be. Hence, it is on the most underrated exercise list.

Steps to Perform:

  1. Grab a kettlebell in your right hand, lie on the floor, and keep your right arm straight and directly over your shoulder while the other arm is relaxed on the floor.
  2. Keep your left leg straight and your right one bent.
  3. Keep your eyes on the kettlebell, and begin by lifting your torso off the floor until you are seated.
  4. Extend your knees and stand upright.
  5. Return to the lying position by reversing the movements in order.

6. Dumbbell Surrender

The surrender is a high-intensity dumbbell exercise that bolsters legs, shoulders, and abs simultaneously.

It helps build up resilience, endurance, and lean mass and take your fitness to the next level.

However, I rarely see anyone doing this exercise.

I recommend adding it to your workout list if you want to target multiple muscles at once, annihilate plenty of calories in a short time, shape your body composition, and enhance your overall fitness.

Steps to Perform:

  1. Grab a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip and hold it close to your shoulders.
  2. Stand on your knees with your chest up and back straight.
  3. Lift your right foot and place it on the ground, followed by the left one.
  4. Now, get into a standing position and press the dumbbells overhead until your arms are extended.
  5. Reverse the movement to return to the start and repeat.

7. Barbell Hack Squat

The barbell hack squat (a.k.a reverse deadlift) involves lifting the bar behind your legs, just opposite the deadlift.

This unconventional position targets the quads, glutes, and hamstrings from a different angle than other lower body exercises and helps build strength and mobility.

It is not as effective as the standard barbell squat or machine hack squat, but a barbell hack squat can be an excellent alternative when you don’t have access to a gym machine or heavy plates.

Steps to Perform:

  1. Put the loaded bar on the floor and stand against it with your calves close to it in a shoulder-width stance.
  2. Push your hips back, slightly bend your knees, and grab the bar with an overhand grip.
  3. Pushing your feet onto the floor, lift the bar and return to the upright position.
  4. Start the squat by hinging at the hips before bending your knees.
  5. Start with an empty bar first, then increase the weight and focus on proper form over heavy weights to avoid injury.

8. Dumbbell Cluster

The cluster is an explosive dumbbell exercise that involves hang-clean and overhead press.

It targets the legs, shoulders, abs, and triceps and helps build endurance and power.

You don’t often see this exercise people do in the gym. But if you are a hybrid athlete and train to stay fit, flexible, and fast, this underrated dumbbell exercise can be an excellent addition to your workout arsenal.

Steps to Perform:

  1. Place one dumbbell beside your feet and stand tall in the hip-width stance.
  2. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and grab the dumbbells with a neutral grip. Your back should be flat as you lower down.
  3. As you grab the dumbbells, drive through your heels and explode while shrugging them to catch them on your shoulders.
  4. Then, quickly extend your hips and legs to stand straight. Press the dumbbells up until your arms are straight overhead.
  5. As you press the dumbbells overhead, quickly push your hips back and lower the dumbbells until they touch the ground (beside your feet). Repeat for the desired number of times.

9. Farmer’s Walk

underrated gym exercises

The farmer’s walk involves holding the weight and walking as far as possible.

It strengthens forearms, legs, and abdominals, builds resilience, and improves functional fitness.

It looks pretty simple, as you have to carry the weight and walk a few steps to perform this exercise. However, it is a lot more effective than you may think.

Several studies have demonstrated that the farmer’s walk has the potential to maximize muscular strength and power and improve grip strength.1 Hindle BR, Lorimer A, Winwood P, Keogh JWL. The Biomechanics and Applications of Strongman Exercises: a Systematic Review. Sports Med Open. 2019 Dec 9;5(1):49. doi: 10.1186/s40798-019-0222-z. Erratum in: Sports Med Open. 2020 Feb 5;6(1):8. PMID: 31820223; PMCID: PMC6901656,2Woulfe, Colm Master of Sport & Exercise, MSc1; Harris, Nigel PhD1; Keogh, Justin PhD2; Wood, Matthew MHSc1 The Physiology of Strongman Training, Strength and Conditioning Journal: December 2014 – Volume 36 – Issue 6 – p 84-95 doi: 10.1519/SSC.0000000000000104 That’s why it’s one of the favorite exercises of strongmen’s workout regime.

Despite its many advantages, the farmer’s walk is one of the most underrated exercises for achieving optimal fitness.

Steps to Perform:

  • Grab a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip. Hold it at your sides with your arms straight and palms facing in.
  • Walk a few steps ahead and then return back and repeat.

You can also perform the farmer’s walk by carrying a pair of kettlebells.

10. Weighted Push-up

Weighted pushups are popular, but they are also an underutilized muscle-building exercise.

Many people start their fitness journey with bodyweight pushups, but once they develop strength and join the gym, they forget about them, particularly the weighted ones.

The weighted push-up is an excellent exercise for building muscle and maximizing strength. It works on many upper body muscles, especially the chest, triceps, and shoulders.

A meta-analysis published on the National Institute of Health (NIH) website has suggested that loaded pushup contracts the chest muscle as efficiently as the bench press, and you can use it interchangeably when your upper body.3T Tillaar RVD. Comparison of Kinematics and Muscle Activation between Push-up and Bench Press. Sports Med Int Open. 2019 Sep 5;3(3):E74-E81. doi: 10.1055/a-1001-2526. PMID: 31508485; PMCID: PMC6728153

So, if you truly want to increase your strength and build beefy muscles, you can consistently do weighted push-ups.

You can do weighted pushups using vests, weight plates, or asking your partner to sit on your back, whichever suits you the best.

Steps to Perform:

  1. Begin in a high plank position with your arms straight beneath your shoulders and back flat.
  2. Ask your gym partner to put the appropriate weight on your back.
  3. Brace your core and lower your torso until your chest is close to the floor.
  4. Pause for a second and then slowly push back until your arms are extended. That’s one rep.
  5. Shoot for a couple of sets and perform at least 10 reps each.

References

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Murshid Akram

I’m a personal trainer, fitness blogger, and founder of thefitnessphantom.com. For the last six years, I’ve been working and training with people who use all sorts of equipment and follow multiple types of workouts, from calisthenics to powerlifting. I primarily design workout plans and share science-based, practical, and logical information that can help you become stronger, flexible, and healthier.

About Me

I’m a personal trainer, fitness blogger, and founder of thefitnessphantom.com. For the last six years, I’ve been working and training with people who use all sorts of equipment and follow multiple types of workouts, from calisthenics to powerlifting. I primarily design workout plans and share science-based, practical, and logical information that can help you become stronger, flexible, and healthier.

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