The Idiot-Proof Functional Fitness Workout

I was looking up some different workout ideas today and all of a sudden I stumbled upon what I believe to be one of the most awesome summaries of all things exercise that I have ever seen (and paraphrased):

When in doubt, squat, hinge, press, pull, do something for your core and/or carry something heavy.

This is such a useful answer to the question I get so often as a trainer:

What should I do in the gym?

Functional fitness for 100, Alex.  Planning your workout isn’t brain surgery; it’s simply putting together the most effective summary of parts so that you aren’t (a) wasting time or (b) about to injure yourself.

Case in point: I, like many women, used to spend time on “little muscles” – think triceps kickbacks, biceps curls, or thigh abductions.

go hard

You can go hard, or you can go home.

Sure, muscles are muscles and they all need work to function optimally.   But consider a complex movement like the deadlift-row – where the body must hinge, pull, engage the core, and lift something heavy – and you see why 10 reps of dead-rows versus 10 reps of arm-kicking makes a lot more sense.

dead row

The deadlift row. Please use larger weights, ladies and gents.

So what does a squatting, hinging, pushing, pulling, core stuff and carrying things type of workout actually look like?

I know, it sounds like some sort of complicated version of Mouse Trap, but honestly, these fundamental movements are some of the easiest to put together on your own when faced with a gym and a half hour(ish) to work out in it.  Here’s one example:

SQUAT – why not just um, squat?  Or add weights?  Or jump?

squat

Drop it like a squat

HINGE – you know I love a deadlift.  Or heck, a kettlebell swing.

kb hip

NOT a squat. #hiphinge

PUSH – don’t discount the humble push-upPush-press?  Chest fly too.

push press

My fave Crossfit move.

PULLpull-ups are hard.  Seated rows aren’t.  Or how about cables?

pullup

Ripped dudes make it look easy.

CORE – so many planks.  Crunches.  Lower back work.  Twists.

planks.jpg

CARRY – pick up a sandbag.  Drag something behind you.  Farmers walk.

darg

This workout is a drag, man.

As with most things in life, the best answer is often the simplest one.

What do your functional workouts look like?  What are your fave moves?

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One thought on “The Idiot-Proof Functional Fitness Workout

  1. Thank you for highlighting this! Functional fitness is such a must- and even if you are doing those smaller muscle groups, you need all those stabilization muscles firing correctly to execute them. When I was coming back from an ankle injury, my physical therapist had me doing many seemingly simple one legged maneuvers, but at the end of six weeks, my butt looked amazing and my core was stronger. My favorite compound movement right now is doing burpees with a shoulder press- I use dumbbells in at the bottom of the movement, placed depending on what upper body muscle group I’m targeting, and it has the added benefit of keeping my wrists neutral during the pushup/plank maneuver (damn carpal-tunnel)!

    Like

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