8 Unique Whole Body Workouts

Following a fitness routine can provide a straightforward and trackable way to improve your physical health. Still, as you go through the same exercises session after session, the routine can start to feel stale quickly.

If you yearn for something new, don’t worry — there are plenty of activities that work your whole body. Read on for some suggestions for unique full-body exercises that will help break the monotony and get you energized.

1. Oar-Based Workouts

For a quiet, solitary day, rowing offers the ability to move through water at your own pace. You can use a kayak, canoe, paddleboard, rowboat, or any other oar-based equipment for this activity. Paddling and balancing demand a lot from your body. You’ll be giving your entire body a workout the whole time, no matter your pace. Oar-based workouts can easily end up feeling more like mental and physical therapy than exercise.

If you’re something of a thrill-seeker, you won’t need to hesitate to take out your paddleboard on windy days. Stand-up paddleboard (SUP) surfing requires more intense effort, challenging you physically while stoking your appetite for more. Alongside activities such as kayaking and canoeing, paddleboarding can be tailored to suit any level of full-body workout you’re looking for.

2. Swimming

Continuing along with the theme of aquatic sports, swimming is a great way to stay in shape if you don’t have access to workout equipment. Using the correct form, swimming is low-impact, too. You can work out your whole body with less danger of strain. Gyms and other fitness facilities commonly have lane pools alongside land-based equipment that is accessible at no extra cost.

In the pool, added water resistance means that you can improve upon the same exercises you do on land. You’ll benefit even if you don’t change your routine very much at all. Alternatively, you can swim laps or even play around with friends for a workout that will still be equally intense. A simple game of water polo can be surprisingly invigorating at any age.

3. High-Mobility Sports

High-mobility sports such as basketball, football, and lacrosse offer diverse and exciting workouts outside of the weight room. All muscle groups will be engaged in some form by the full-body coordination these activities require. You also have the choice of playing casually or competitively with friends or members of a league.

No matter how intense you want your workout to be, there are opportunities to match your abilities. If you want a slower, engaging sport, join a tennis team. For faster-paced action, basketball might be the answer. Even within these sports, you can find teams playing at all skill levels. Don’t worry about your skill level, just find a niche you enjoy! The competitive nature of sports will encourage you to continue exerting yourself much longer than you might normally.

4. Hiking

Hiking is another great suggestion for getting a whole-body workout for good reason. Just as with rowing, you’re constantly on the move. It can make it much easier to set out and exercise for the day anticipating the adventure ahead. Trails provide a comforting level of solitude and movement at your own pace. You’ll also be rewarded with breathtaking views should your hiking trail lead to elevated locations or even the top of a mountain.

As you traverse uneven terrain, you’ll encounter myriad obstacles that require exertion from your legs, core, and upper body. Cardio and leg work are a given anytime you go hiking. Just remember that you’ll need to bring supplies. Don’t make the rookie mistake of underestimating the effort of carrying your pack and its effects on your upper body throughout your trek.

5. Rock Climbing

Different types of climbing require different skill levels to master. However, to get whole-body exercise, all you’ll really need is a supervised rock wall. Many fitness facilities have dedicated climbing areas you can use at your leisure. Brightly colored grips provide climbing with a playful atmosphere, too. Just remember that climbing can be incredibly challenging. What looks like a fun activity can be much more physically demanding than it appears.

Climbing puts special emphasis on every part of your body as you make your way up the wall. Arms and legs are used for balance and upward propulsion, and your core supports this effort as you ascend. You also have the opportunity to add a timer into the mix, which is another aspect you can use to encourage a mean cardio workout.

6. Stair Climbing

Plenty of people dislike regularly climbing stairs for the very same reason that it ends up on this list of whole-body workouts. As tiring as it can be when carrying groceries, stair climbing provides a perfect opportunity for getting a vigorous workout. It also has the bonus of being an activity most people can do in their home or apartment building.

Turning a daily chore into an exercise will make it a lot easier when you’re not exercising. It’s also incredibly taxing — so taxing, in fact, that you won’t have to climb for very long. A quick trip up the stairs, to the point of exhaustion, might take no more than five minutes. This makes stair climbing an efficient cardio workout.

7. Dancing

You’ve surely heard of the multitude of dance and music-based programs permeating the fitness world. These programs are increasingly popular because they provide a non-monotonous workout. Alongside the exertion it entails, dancing can be fun as well as meditative depending on the genre and program.

Any form or style of dance can be used as a type of exercise if performed with fitness in mind. By maintaining an awareness of the role dance plays in working various parts of your body, you can exercise where needed. If you’re focusing too much on legs, then start lifting your arms — or change the music. Nothing will get your blood pumping, not even rowing, like early 2000s dance pop.

8. Free Running

Free running (also known as parkour) is a form of artistic and athletic movement through space that involves creative gymnastic movements. Think of free running as creating your own obstacle course using your surroundings. The sport requires every part of your body to vault, flip, and climb over obstacles. While getting good requires a lot of gymnastic experience, building up to that point is very athletically rewarding.

To prevent injury, it’s best to free run in a controlled environment where you are allowed to work out safely. Naturally, the sport can be dangerous if you’re reckless, so joining a free running program might be the best way to enjoy it. These offer course supervision for the optimal experience and provide a safe, challenging experience.

Give yourself permission not to drag yourself to the gym every day if you need something more engaging from your workout. There are plenty of options for exercise that ultimately feel more like play than work. Next time you’re feeling uninspired at the gym, don’t hesitate to drop the weights and head out into the world. Regardless of what you choose to do, you’re likely to feel all the more fulfilled for it.