There is a huge learning curve that goes along with beginning a functional exercise program. Regardless if you are a veteran weightlifter, a gymnast, or a complete newbie, there are certain exercises you MUST learn. Many of these staple movements have already been profiled in our Exercise of the Week posts.
Here are some of (by my standards) the most functional exercises. They replicate, simulate, or have the most cross-over value into reality. Unfortunately most experienced weight trainers subscribing to traditional bodybuilding methods do NOT include these in their routine. The reason for this is simple: they do not isolate a single muscle enough to force it into reaching its biggest potential. This is what I refer to as "vanity limiting performance." Anyways, here are the exercises, and links to various YouTube demonstrations. And just for sake of debate, I'll loosely rank them from top (most practical) to bottom (less practical).
- Air Squat
- Turkish GetUp (TGU)
- Kettlebell Figure 8 to a Hold
- Sumo Deadlift High Pull (SDLHP)
- Inverted Row
Now I'm sure I'll catch some crap for listing the pullup so low, and the TGU and Figure 8 to a Hold so high. Bring it!
The main reason I picked the TGU and Fig8 as very fundamental is this: trunk rotation. They both involve twisting the torso... a real-life movement which could lead to incredible injury if not practiced and conditioned. I picked the SDLHP and Thruster on this list because they are complex movements that combine upper and lower body coordination and agility. I listed the pullup down on the list not for the reason that it is least functional -- absolutely not. It is because the others are more fundamental. Please analyze the list again. I picked EIGHT drills out of hundreds of possibilities. I think if you look at the longer list of all exercises, you'd see that ranking #7 is pretty darn high!!
After looking at my list again, I realized that I could potentially limit my entire workout routine to these eight exercises and still reach peak physical performance. I do each and every one of these movements. Not because they are fun. Some are positively brutal! But rather because they summarize a vast majority of potential movement patterns demanded by life.
Put this list in your wheelbarrow. You won't be sorry.