With all the craze over functional training, there has been endless confusion over what is "functional." In a nutshell, if your training improves your activities of daily living, then it is truly functional.
Now, if you want to hear the details on how to incorporate something new and exciting into your own personal workouts and the training of your clients, then get ready to have some serious fun -- as well as breathe new life into your business, with faster results and increased profits.
Sounds good, right?
Let's take a look at a few of the most popular movements, how to perform them safely and how to lead your clients into them with proper progressions. Note that these movements are not for the beginner and often require some form of a foundational program beforehand.
The Tire Flip
Everyone wants to flip a tire; it's some strange, primal instinct people have, and they can't deny it! There are two ways to flip the tire: sumo stance with arms between the legs and close stance with the armsoutsidethe legs. The close stance places the biceps in a much safer position, compared to the sumo stance, which can strain the biceps if one doesn't transition from a curl grip to a overhand grip quickly.
- Lean into the tire, driving off the balls of your feet so you are pushing up and against the tire.
- As soon as the tire is past waist-height, lift one knee up to assist the tire flip, and quickly transition from a curl grip to a pushing grip with the hands. Focus on running through the tire using the entire body, primarily the legs.
The sledgehammer strikes will improve grip strength, core strength, leg strength, full-body conditioning and mobility through your entire body.
A sledgehammer can vary in weight from six to 12 pounds if you pick one up from a hardware store, or you can purchase specialty hammers online that are shot-filled or made extra large, weighing anywhere from 20 to 40 pounds! You will need an open area, free from others, and a tire to slam the sledgehammer onto.
- Begin by holding one hand at the bottom of the handle and the other hand on the top, right beneath the hammer.
- Bring the hammer around and behind your body in a rotational movement.
- Once the hammer is behind your body, swing the hammer over your head.
- Once the hammer is over your head, strike the hammer down onto the tire. As the hammer begins striking down, your top hand will slide down and meet your bottom hand.
- Perform a slight squat when finishing the movement, and catch the sledge handle after it bounces off the tire.
Repeat for designated reps by repeating with the same hand on top/bottom, or switch the top/bottom hand. Try performing these for 10-20 reps or 30 seconds for each side. This will be brutal!
This can be performed using specially made farmer handles, dumbbells or kettlebells. This movement, although simple to perform, is not easy. It will work your entire body, head to toe.
- Begin by deadlifting the implements up with a flat back and proper technique. Do not allow the weights to alter your posture negatively. Focus on keeping your chest high and preventing your body from being pulled around by the weights. If the weights pull you around, then the weights are too heavy.
- Perform farmer walks, either in a straight path or by zig-zagging throughcones or an obstacle course. Zig-zagging will work the trunk and core muscles intensely as your body resists being turned by the pull of the weights.
- At the end of the set, come to a complete stop, and deadlift the weights back down.
Sandbag Clean and Press
If you are short on time or run time-crunching fitness classes and boot camps, be sure to include this full-body exercise into the workout. It will hit every muscle from head to toe and, when performed for 10 or more reps, will have you huffin' and puffin'.
- Place the sandbag between yourfeet.
- Squat down, keeping your lower back flat. If your upper back rounds slightly, no problem; if it rounds too much, then you need to work on upper-back strength and hip mobility.
- Rip the sandbag into the "rack" position, just as you would if you were power-cleaning a barbell.
- From the rack, you can either strict-press or push-press the bag overhead. I recommend locking the arms overhead and holding the weight for a two count with biceps near or slightly behind the ears. This lock-out position will work the core intensely as well as being the main factor for demonstrating control when the weight is overhead.
A perfect way to end a workout is to have groups pushing a car or truck. It is an awesome lower-body workout but also intensely works the upper body and the trunk muscles as your abs stabilize and your upper body is tensed in an isometric fashion.
You will need a large parking lot. If you don't have one, don't be afraid to have one or two off-site boot camps at the park where plenty of free space is available. The parking lot should be empty and free of pedestrians.
- Shut off the car and put it in neutral. There should be a driver at the wheel, ready to hit the brakes.
- Have two to four people stand behind the car.
- Drive with the legs all the way until the end of the parking lot. Arms should be locked out and the upper body kept tight.
All of these exercises can be performed indoors, on grass or on cement,except for the car/truck push.
When performing any of these movements, safety must be your number-one factor. If the technique is unsafe, go lighter, or get back to performing other movements that prepare the body for these functional movements.
Exercises such as squats, deadlifts, the dumbbell clean and press, pull-ups, kettlebell swings and leg-raise variations prepare the body for the rigors of these movements. Again, they are not for beginners.
Justas we progressed through school, we must also remember to progress our clients into these advanced movements. From a business standpoint, you can also hold advanced fitness camps or come up with a catchy name.Participantscan be through invite-only or after passing certain benchmark standards. This will motivate your clients to get stronger, fitter and stay on board with you for a longer time period.
These movements will also lend themselves to some amazing leverage opportunities. For example, you can get video clips, testimonials and photos and use them for your blog, YouTube channel and articles. Once your clients become proficient with these exercises, you can create a fundraiser event with the strongman movements, invite the local media to cover the fundraiser story or even invite a local journalist or news anchor to join your workouts for free in exchange for a review.
Time to go make it happen!
Zach Even-Esh is a performance coach and the owner of TheUnderground Strength Gym, located in Edison, NewJersey. Zach also holds a popular mentorship program, where coaches learn how to implement his training methods and business systems into their existing programs. For more information, visit ZachEven-Esh.com and UndergroundStrengthCoach.com.