We love to squat with a barbell, crank out push-ups and get on the rower to burn some calories and get strong. But are we making maximum gains to be fully functional in life? Personally, I care most about being able to carry our 20L water bottles inside from the car; to carry our kid up the stairs regardless of how heavy he gets; and to race down the street at a moment‘s notice. I care more about these things then I do my back squat PR, my snatch form, or my Fran time. I want to be daily life FIT.
So how do we ensure our bodies are functional? In my experience, diverse movements, lots of variety, realising the importance of single arm and leg movements, rotating our bodies in a variety of planes, and did I mention diverse, diverse, diverse? These are the things that have helped me and my clients achieve more functionality in their fitness. Keep your body wondering what you will do next, pay attention to what’s uneven, work with a professional on ensuring everything is activating effectively and add in accessory work on a regular basis. So what are my favourite functional accessory movements to add into workouts? These 7 moves can often be found in my clients plans to ensure the program has balance and adds to their balance 😉:
1. Seated Kettlebell Z-Press. The sitting position of this movement takes the strong legs out of the picture and ensures you are engaging your core and working to even out arm dominance.
2. Split Squat. A combo of a lunge and squat, this movement will tackle the posterior chain a.k.a. it will burn the gluts big time AND work on your balance at the same time.
3. Pistols. There are a ton of ways to scale the pistol so don’t be deterred when you watch one of the top crossfit athletes do a one legged squat. Benches or boxes, bands or different leg positioning can ensure everyone can perform this movement on a regular basis.
4. Single Leg Deadlifts. Take out one leg and use a kettlebell and this balance movement will get you engaging your core, and activating where you want and need too.
5. Single Arm Bent-Over Rows. Strengthen your back in all the right places, this movement will help get all your pull and push movements stronger.
6. Hollow Holds. Looks easy but crushes your core in seconds. Holding in the hollow position translates to so many of the flashier movements….handstands, kipping pullups, double unders and the like.
7. Running With Purpose. Start, stop, start stop, slower, faster. All too often we diversitfy our workouts and NOT our running. 8X 200m, 85% of max run, and time trials are some of my favourites.
We all have imbalances, rights stronger than lefts, lefts stronger than rights, weak links in the chain and small muscles turned off. Getting in variety, learning to use our core properly, focusing on mobility and training fuctionally are all keys to ensuring that one day we get chased by a bear we will be able to jump the fence and climb the tree 😉