These Are the 6 Exercise Variations That You NEED to Know

These Are the 6 Exercise Variations That You NEED to Know

You’d be surprised just how much the slightest variation to an exercise can turn on a whole lot of other muscles. For example, if you’ve been doing the same exact exercises for months (or even years), while you have become strong and efficient in those movements, you most likely still have hidden weaknesses or imbalances. Those weaknesses or imbalances could either be holding back your performance, or — in worse scenarios — creating compensations that can set you up for injury

Related: Break Out of Plateaus With Gabe Snow and Kristina Centenari's Strength Program

While there are lots of variations to lots of exercises, we honed in on six that don’t get enough coverage. Here, Spartan Director of Training Sam Stauffer goes into detail on their benefits. Want to try them with the help of a Spartan Master Coach? You’ll find these moves in Master Coaches Gabe Snow and Kristina Centenari’s Break the Mold program on the Spartan FIT app.


Instead of the shoulder press, do the half-kneeling bells up overhead press.

“With the bell being away from the body, it activates the core more,” Stauffer says. “And holding it upside down creates a real challenge for the shoulder."

Try Gabe’s Deviate & Destroy workout on the Spartan FIT app.


Instead of the bent-over row, do the isometric quadruped single-arm row. 

“One of your core’s primary goals is to prevent overextension, flexion, or rotation of the lower lumbar,” he says. “When rowing, form breaks down at the lower lumbar due to weak core strength and stability, so this movement will reinforce your core and improve your rowing strength."


Instead of the forward or reverse lunge, do the rotational lunge.

“As humans, we almost always move in the sagittal (linear) plane, we rarely move in the frontal (lateral) plane, and we almost never move in the transverse (rotational) plane,” Stauffer says. “By working in the transverse plane, you're working on becoming more powerful, and by incorporating the rotational lunge into your workouts, you're building your power unit from the ground up."

Try Gabe’s Learn Your AB/ADs workout on the Spartan FIT app.

Exercise Variations


Instead of the deadlift, do the single-leg deadlift with adduction and rotation.

“If you have an imbalance and you're lifting bilaterally, the dominant side ends up pulling more than its fair share of the load,” he says. “Throwing the SLDL with adduction and rotation into the mix is great because it gives each side of the body a fair shot to get strong."


Instead of the broad jump or box jump, do a two-footed jump into a single-foot land.

I’ve seen a lot of people get obsessed with concentric power (the jumping part) but pay no attention to the eccentric part (the landing), and this is where a lot of injuries happen,” Stauffer says. “Our ability to eccentrically control a load is important in avoiding injuries and building power, so the two-foot jump into single-foot land is a great way to build super eccentric control."

Try Kristina’s Low Impact, High Burn workout on the Spartan FIT app.

Exercise Variations


Instead of crunches, do tall-kneeling to standing knee drives. 

“Crunches promote excessive spinal flexion, which can become problematic,” Stauffer says. “The tall-kneeling to standing knee drive, on the other hand, builds functional core strength by teaching you how to activate your core during movement and how to resist excessive spinal flexion or extension."

Try Kristina’s Air Time workout on the Spartan FIT app.

To start working all of these new variations into your training, commit to Gabe and Kristina’s Break the Mold program on the Spartan FIT app. App Logo