Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Most Functional Movements/Exercises (Part 5)

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).

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.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Steps up onto soap box,

The deadlift as the "least practical" of all these movements? I don't think so. The air squat and deadlift are by far the most "practical" of all these movements. After all, we squat up off the toilet every day, just about as frequently as picking up an object up off the ground (i.e. deadlift). These are two movements that are gateways to doing some of the other cool stuff. If someone cannot demonstrate sufficient mid-line stability during even a lighter load dead lift (or even with no load at all), then will that person have sufficient coordination and mid-line stability to control the load with it's kinetic energy during a figure-8 or TGU? I have yet to see someone new to exploring these movements able to reverse engineer the basic mechanics of how the body works to overcome the demands placed upon them in the more elaborate movements, and in a safe and efficient means.

With regards to trunk rotation, we can just as effectively train this by resisting the urge to rotate. The overhead squat (the best demonstration of overall relative flexibility, coordination, midline stability, and strength), puts a huge demand on the transverse plane as the loads are increased or as fatigue sets in. Likewise, the kettlebell swing, handstand pushup, and even running all require the body to move in one plane with no rotation to be considered efficient. Every time the frontal and sagittal planes are broken in these movements, energy is leaked, and decreased efficiency ensues.

We've had the testimonial that one of our members had messed up his golf game by doing all of the basic CF movements with no golf practice during the winter when he was training with us. He also did no trunk rotation while in our hands. The problem is, he now hits the ball 15 to 20 yards farther, and has trouble selecting the clubs needed for his shots.

Now back down from my soap box!