Find Fitness (and Fun) in the Functional

By Diane Vives, M.S., C.S.C.S., N.S.C.A.-C.P.T. – July 1, 2015
Photography by Brian Fitzsimmons

Every time a circuit is organized, we have an opportunity to make sure we are putting exercises together with a purpose. To make sure we incorporate exercises that not only increase volume, intensity, and overall physical conditioning, but also feed the body movements it craves—those functional movements that make our everyday tasks and activities easier and more efficient. 

Highlighted in this circuit are exercises focused on working hip extension, developing strong, explosive rotations of the hip and upper body, and challenging core static stability and upper body pushing strength. Put together, these functional movements offer an intense circuit guaranteed to work the entire body. 

Hip Thrust 

Purpose: This lower body movement translates to better force production for lower body movements as well as muscle development of the glutes.

Start: Position your back on the bench so that the edge of the bench is just below the shoulder blade and the barbell is on the crease of the hip. With the back in a neutral position, establish a straight line through the shoulder, hip, and knee.

Feet should be shoulder width apart and directly under the knees so that the shins remain perpendicular to the ground. 

In a smooth, controlled movement (with no jerking), perform a hip hinge by flexing the hips so that the torso maintains a neutral position and all the movement is coming from the hips.

The goal is to focus on the hip hinge and extension while allowing the low back to remain in a neutral, supportive position.

Return to start by fully extending the hips as you regain shoulder, hip and knee alignment. 




Overhead Wall Toss

Purpose: The arms act as an extension of the torso and this overhead toss works the full flexion and extension motions of the body—really challenging your core strength.  

Start: Stand (in a tall posture) about 2 feet away from the wall with the ball directly overhead.  

Begin the movement by slightly bending at the knees while simultaneously extending the hips and upper back to load the throw into the wall.

Quickly use your body’s elastic feeling to flex forward from the ground up and perform a quick snap throw into the wall. The ball should bounce off the wall and directly back into your hands.

Absorb the throw and maintain control. 

While reloading for the next throw, always brace the core like you’re bracing for a punch.

Rotational Single Leg Jump

Purpose: Prepares a single leg to rotationally load and explode into a change of direction (a physical function we do in many activities). 

Start: In a single leg stance, brace the core and quickly perform an athletic bend in the ankle, knee, and hip while loading rotationally (like winding up) with the upper body.  

Without hesitation, quickly unload and explode into a 90-degree jump by extending at the ankle, knee, and hip while uncoiling the upper body to drive the direction of the jump.

This is a single leg takeoff with a quiet, two-foot landing in the new direction—now facing 90 degrees away from the original starting position. 
Set your position on the opposite leg and perform the jump again, this time in the opposite direction.

Clock Push-Ups

Purpose: Perform a more challenging upper body strength movement that also challenges your core control and static stability. 

Start: With a light weight balanced on your upper back, get into a push up position. Your feet should be stacked to create a good pivot point for the low body

The weight gives good feedback to help you maintain a level shoulder position when stepping laterally with the hands.  

After stepping to the side with each hand, lower your chest to the ground in a push up. 

Continue alternating walking the hands and performing the push-ups in a circular or clock pattern. 

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