Every week, you perform basic big-muscle moves like the squat, deadlift, row and bench press. Those are your meat-and-potatoes exercises, and they're important for revving your metabolism and building size and strength. But are you getting enough of your workout vegetables? Probably not, says Sean De Wispelaere, expert coach for Men's Health Thrive.
"Vegetables are the exercises you love to skip because they're hard, make you move in new ways, call out muscle imbalances, or highlight weaknesses," says De Wispelaere. "But they're also some of the best moves for you."
Over time, neglecting these exercises can slow your progress and your gains. After all, to build a body that moves better, lifts better, and feels better, you can't just focus on strength alone. You need a balanced routine that incorporates other facets of fitness, too, says De Wispelaere.
So add some of these effective -- but commonly disregarded -- vegetables below to your weekly routine. You can do them as part of your warmup or during rest periods so you're not logging extra time in the gym. Then reward yourself by doing an exercise you love directly afterward. Think of it as your dessert.
DO THIS: Perform three 30-second planks between each circuit or set of your workout.
The plank is one of the best moves for a hard core, even if it's not the most exciting abs exercise. It forces your core to brace against potentially spine-injuring motion like rotation, flexion, and extension, explains De Wispelaere. And stronger you are in a plank position, the more weight you'll be able to lift in every exercise. (Think you have the pushup down? Think again. Here are 5 Body-Weight Exercises You're Doing Wrong.)
Ankle Mobility Drill
DO THIS: Perform three 10-second holds on each side. Do between squat sets.
Sure, mobility drills are boring, but they improve your range of motion, help you lift more weight, and decrease your risk of injury, says De Wispelaere. One of the least-mobile areas on men are the ankles. Lack of ankle flexibility can cause unstable foundations in your squat and lunge patterns. The result: You can't support as much weight and the neutral alignment of your spine is compromised. (Which moves do fitness experts hate? Read 5 Exercises That Make Trainers Cringe.)
Lateral Slide Lunge
DO THIS: Perform 10 reps per side during your warmup
"At the gym, most guys perform forward-and-backward or up-and-down movements," says De Wispelaere. "But life rarely happens in just one plane of motion." Moving laterally strengthens the muscles that run down the sides of your body, while testing your hip flexibility and targeting your glutes and groin muscles. You'll build strength you can use inside and outside the gym, he says. (Build a better performing body and a sculpted core with The Toughest Exercise You Aren't Doing (but Should)).
Bulgarian split squat
DO THIS: Do 8 to 12 reps on each leg. Perform between sets of an upper-body exercise.
The Bulgarian split squat might be one of the hardest moves you'll ever do, which is why many guys try to avoid it. Unlike the regular split squat where your back leg pushes about 50 percent of the load, this version relies on the back foot only for balance. Your front leg is doing the majority of the work. But training one leg at a time prevents imbalances and increases total-body stability, says De Wispelaere.
Carve the invincible abs you've always wanted in as little as 2 hours a week with The New Rules of Lifting for Abs.