Prepare your body for everyday life
Functional workouts involve compound exercises that work the large muscle groups of the body and mimic functional everyday movement patterns. Of course some of these exercises by their very nature can be explosive and highly demanding. In addition to maximally taxing your muscles, functional training will give you an awesome cardio workout.
Here are 5 fantastic functional exercises that you should consider slipping into your workout schedule:
Take a hold of a sledgehammer and position yourself side on to a tractor tire. Swing the sledge hammer out and then bring it crashing into the tire. Concentrate on driving the power from your thighs, hips and lats. Do 12 reps on the right, then another 12 on the left.
NOTE: If your gym doesn’t have a sledge hammer and truck tire, demand that they get them
Squat Snatches are a classic weight lifting move that require explosive power, core stability and hip and shoulder flexibility. To start place a barbell on a squat rack and step under it so that it is behind the neck and across the traps. Un-rack the bar and take a couple of steps back. With feet shoulder width apart and wide grip on the bar, snatch the weight overhead to arms length, pushing up and out. While holding your breath, squat down into a full squat position. Do not lean forward, but keep your back arched and chest up. Immediately you hit the bottom of the squat reverse position and drive yourself back to a standing position with the weight locked out overhead. That’s one rep.
Start with the bar in front of you. With your feet firmly planted and back arched bend your knees to grab the bar with an overhand grip. Start lifting the bar and as it reaches mid thigh, extend the hips, knees and ankles upwards. At the same time shrug your shoulders and bend and raise the elbows. Keep the bar close to your body as it rises and rests at your upper chest level. You will now be in a standing front squat position. Immediately lower into a full squat and then return the bar to the start position on the floor in front of you.
A front squat is essentially the mid part of the clean exercise just described. Many people shy away from front squats due to the relative uncomfortableness of squatting with the bar in front of your neck. That, however, is part of what makes it a great functional exercise. It’s vital that you maintain a strong, upright position throughout the squat.
Start in a squat position with a medicine ball held at chest level. You should be 10 feet away from a wall. As you explode upwards chest press the ball straight towards the wall. You now have to catch the ball on the rebound. As soon as you do, move right into your next repetition. Stay focused or you’ll have the thing smashing into your rib-cage!
The above exercises are not easy. They take time and repetition to master. So, start off with a light weight until your body is correctly trained. Remember that the power of the drive in each movement comes from the thighs. While you’re getting used to these movements, introduce just one of them at a time to your workout. The next workout, add in the next exercise. Do the movement first in your routine while you’re still fresh. After a month, you’ll be ready to combine all five movements into a hard as nails circuit. Simply perform the four exercises in sequence, doing 12 reps each with no rest and keeping going until 20 minutes have expired. At the end of it you’ll feel totally wasted - in a good way.
Author: Steve Theunissen
Author Bio: Steve Theunissen is the Nutrition Souq Bodybuilding and Workouts Editor. He is a former gym owner and personal trainer. Steve is the author of 5 hard copy books and dozens of e-books on the subject of fitness, bodybuilding and weight loss.