Layer Function, Boost Potential

By Diane Vives – November 5, 2013

When training, there are many ways to challenge the body to reach new goals of transformation and performance—especially here in Austin, where there are many challenging programs, all designed to take any fitness athlete to the edge of his or her current ability and physical limits. This is a motivating (and, many times, life changing) moment in the journey towards fitness and building confidence in one’s body. And that is why adaptability and durability are keys to having a positive and long-term experience as a fitness athlete. Adaptability means that you have prepared your body through proper progression and fundamental movement ability in order to accommodate higher levels of training and multifaceted training programs. Durability is your body’s ability to take on the overload variables needed to properly progress in training and recovery without increased risk of injury or actually breaking down. These two important aspects of movement competency require that we invest in our long-term fitness through a well-rounded crosstraining program.

Here is an example of how you can incorporate the four major categories of human movement into your workout, all while creating great foundational strength and promoting a metabolic energy challenge. You can apply this strategy and build your training program with similar circuits by using the categories of human movement and incorporating one movement from each of the categories.

The Four Major Categories or Pillars of Human Movement:

Level Changes/Lower Body

Push and Pull/ Upper Body

Rotary Stability and Rotation/Core

Locomotion/Speed, Agility, Quickness

Choosing a movement that falls in one of these categories of movement and then putting them together in a circuit is a great way to ensure that you’ve hit the essentials of movement while conditioning the total body. And, by focusing on movement rather than individual muscles or joint movements, you will consistently incorporate more working muscle and increase your energy output.

1. Goblet Squat

Purpose: Focus on lower body movement, which in turn focuses on lower body mobility and dynamic motor control, while maintaining static motor control/stability for the upper body and core.

  • Start with a shoulder-width stance and hold the kettlebell with two hands in a front carry position, just in front of the chest.
  • Bracing the core, bend at the ankle, knee, and hips so that the hips drop between the feet in a vertical descent.
  • Feet should be flat at all times, and the torso and shins should be parallel in the bottom position, with knees tracking just behind the second toe.
  • Lower the kettlebell, keeping it in position close to the body, elbows traveling vertically down toward the upper thigh.
  • Push through the heels to return to a standing position and finish in full extension of the lower body, making your spine as long as possible at the finish of each repetition.

2. Cable Combo Push-Pull

Purpose: Create a combination that includes the two essential movements of push and pull for the upper body. This also challenges rotary stability and core strength.

  • Stand between a functional cable machine so that cables cross at chest level, and place feet hip-width apart in a staggered stance.
  • Make sure your spine is as long as possible and keep the lower body motionless.
  • Set one arm flexed with grip just outside the chest for pressing and the other arm extended for the rowing motion.
  • Keeping the lower body stable, perform the push and pull simultaneously in a smooth controlled motion.
  • Return the upper body to the start position by reversing the full range motion.

Tweak Down: Perform the push and the pull separately in two different sets in order to master form and technique.

Tweak Up: Use a single leg stance to increase demands on static motor control for the lower body.

3. Cable Lift with Ropes
Purpose: Use a narrow, static lower body stance to perform an upper body dynamic movement within the functional, diagonal pathway way connecting the opposite shoulder and hip.

  • Set your lower body in a half-kneeling stance, with the front knee over the ankle and the back knee directly under the hip. Make sure the torso is as long as possible.
  • With both hands holding an end of the cable attached rope, perform a diagonal upward lift by first pulling the hands just in front of the chest and close to the body and then pressing through the motion to finish over the shoulder.
  • Nothing in the lower body should change.
  • Reverse the motion in a smooth controlled pace back to the start.

Tweak Down: Use a light medicine ball to master the half-kneeling stance and maintain stability of the lower body while performing a full range of motion.

Tweak Up: Use a staggered, standing position while performing the movement. You may also continue the progression further with a single leg stance.

4. Lateral Run + Direction Change with Hurdles
Purpose: Use a lateral locomotive movement to challenge agility and the crucial deceleration and reacceleration skills needed for changes in direction. This can add a great metabolic energy demand at the end of the circuit.

  • Set up four hurdles, 6-12 inches in height, about 3 feet apart.
  • Start in a power position. Keeping your eyes in focused in front of the body and your torso squarely forward, step laterally step over the hurdles.
  •  When you reach the last hurdle, perform a jab step with a shin-angle back in the direction of the hurdles.
  • Perform this change of direction technique at both ends of hurdles for the designated reps.
  • Keep the shoulders level and at the same height as you laterally run through the hurdles.

Tweak Down: Use a lateral walk over hurdles, focusing on form and balance.

Tweak Up: Perform the exercise as fast as you can control. You may also have a coach or partner add a medball toss to make this a reactive drill.

Building circuits with purpose will continue to build your functional strength and foundation for a stronger movement base. In addition, it will increase your adaptability to other training programs and add challenges to enhance your fitness performance experience. The durability you will gain provide long-term gains through increased recovery and resistance to. Movement that matters performed while conditioning the body will accelerate your personal success!

Thank you Stephen DeLanoy and BodyBusiness for hosting us this month!


Related Articles