Here’s the deal: I’ve been in the fitness industry for two decades. From bodybuilding splits to power lifting to all different forms of stretching to strongman training and beyond, I’ve seen plenty of workouts come and go. Some work pretty well and, well, some don’t.
But when it comes to workouts and workout modalities that fly under the radar, I’ve been obsessed lately with three different forms of workouts – workouts that some people might call “woo woo” but that really do get me a lot of bang for my fitness buck.
In no particular order of importance here they are…
Workout #1. Kundalini Yoga
At the risk of any yogi that is reading this article being forced to absolutely cringe, I would roughly define kundalini yoga as a form of yoga that involves intense breath work, plenty of quick muscular contracts, meditation with your eyes closed, and an intense, tantric-like focus on moving energy up and down your spine.
I’m now using it for everything from recharging my body at the beginning or at the end of the day, stepping into airport bathrooms and closing the door to do quick 5 to 10 minute routines, and doing full-blown 30-90 minute routines in a hot sauna.
I really dig this form of yoga because it opens up the lungs, earns a bunch of calories, gets a bunch of blood flowing, and frankly, makes you feel like a million bucks when you finish. Here’s a link to a podcast that I recorded that goes into the nitty-gritty details…
But ultimately, if you haven’t yet tried this form of yoga, you definitely need to add it to your repertoire (and grab an Onnit multi-mat to make your practice oh-so-comfortable).
Workout #2. Neuro-Sets
I recently finished reading a book called “Neuro-Mass”. The relatively simple routine outlined in the book has absolutely blown my mind and pushed my fitness to new levels.
The program basically goes something like this: you start with what is called an “grind”, which is a super slow, controlled set performed with either body weight or a kettle bell.
For example, if you are doing a Neuromass for your legs, you might do a super slow lunge with one leg forward and the back leg elevated on step, for 5-10 repetitions.
Next, you move into some kind of a power, explosive movement. For example, using the leg training analogy I just described, you would do scissor jumps (AKA lunge jumps) for 15-60 seconds.
Then you would finish with an isometric hold that builds up a ton of lactic acid and “finishes off” the muscle group.
For this, you could use something like an isometric lunge hold. You complete 3-5 rounds with minimal rest between rounds before moving on to another body section, such as hamstrings, back, shoulders, etc.
You can do these type of workouts with the mighty Onnit kettlebells, dumbbells, body weight, you name it and I’m now – because of how much I’m traveling – doing these routines about three times a week in a hotel room or park.
The workouts are somewhat unconventional, but I highly recommend if you want a breakthrough in functional fitness.
Workout #3. Hypoxic Swimming
Okay, let’s start with a disclaimer: anytime you’re holding your breath near water, swimming underwater, exerting yourself in water, or doing anything else that involves exercise and water, you need to be careful.
There is indeed such a thing as shallow water blackout and I talk about it in great detail here.
That being said, if you’re an extremely experienced swimmer and/or have a good swim buddy to swim with, there are some really cool things you can do without necessarily having to just swim laps back and forth in a pool while staring at the black line at the bottom of the water.
For example, one workout that I will do, popularized by surfer Laird Hamilton, is to get into a squat position at the bottom of the pool and then do an explosive jump squat up and out the surface of the pool as high as I can go while clapping my hands above my head.
I’ll do 10 to 15 repetitions of this (if the pool is deep enough, you can do this with light dumbbells), and then move into “eggbeater style” kicking in which I’m keeping my hands above my head and exhausting my legs.
You can also do this type of egg-beater kicking or hand “crawling” back and forth across the pool, holding a weight to your chest or between your legs.
Once catching your breath, you can take a heavy set of dumbbells down to the pool and simply walk back and forth until you are out of breath. Just try three to five rounds of this and you’ll be absolutely blown away by the cardiovascular training result.
If you really find yourself sucking wind, try a bit of chlorella, which can assist with oxygen transport in your bloodstream.
Are each of these workouts a bit unconventional? A bit woo-woo? Fly a bit under the radar? Absolutely.
But if you’re looking for a way to shock your body into a metabolic stimulus or new muscle growth or fat loss response, pulling out some of the lesser-known, less popular workouts can be just the thing to get this done. So woo-woo away, baby.