Total Body Exercise Part II

In my previous post I discussed how it was a good idea to include compound exercises into your fitness routine. I compared isolated muscle exercises with compound exercises and although both have a role to play in the strength and conditioning of your body there are clear benefits with compound exercises that should not be overlooked. Some of these benefits include the maintenance of a strong core which adds stability and the ability to withstand external force, such as a rugby tackle. Compound exercisesalso work in accordance with the anatomical slingprinciples, which consists of muscles working together sequentially to generate power. With these two concepts,improving core stability and sequentially activating muscle groups, we can see that this type training can translate more closely to the field of play. As the old adage states “we train to play” and not the other way around, therefore training should enhance our sporting capabilities and mimic what we do on the pitch/ sporting arena. So after listing the benefits of compound exercises I thought it would be a good idea to give some examples of these exercises, what muscle groups they are activating and why this is important.

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Exercise: Backward Lunge with Unilateral Row

Anatomical Sling: Posterior Oblique Sling.

Muscles and structures used: Latissimus dorsi, thoracolumbar fascia and contralateral gluteus maximus.

Benefit: Provides pelvic, SIJ and lumbar spine stability. Also provides stability on the stance phase during gait.

Equipment Required: Thera-band or cable machine in gym

Aim for 3 Sets of 10 Repetitions on each side

Tempo: 5 secs

Starting position: Start in with your feet hip width apart and theraband in an outstretched right arm.

Step 1: Take a step back with your right foot taking up any slack in the thera-band.

Step2: Kneel with your right knee touching the floor while at the same pulling the thera-band back until your right hand is in line with your right hip.

Notes: The step back and into the kneeling position should be a continuous motion, your arm should come back in time with this. You should not overly rotate your upper body but some rotation is allowed.

Step 3: From the kneeling positon return to the standing position by pushing off your left leg and bringing your right foot in line with your left. At the same time extending your right arm and allowing the thera-band to return to its original tension in a controlled manner.

Exercise: Forward Lunge with ContralateralChop

Anatomical Sling: Anterior Oblique Sling.

Muscles and structures used: Hip Adductors, internal obliques and contralateral external obliques.

Benefit: Provides pelvic stability and strengthening of core muscles. Also acts to stabilise the stance leg during the stance phase as well as rotating the pelvis to start the swing phase during gait.

Equipment Required: Thera-band or cable machine in gym.

Aim for 3 Sets of 10 Repetitions on each side

Tempo: 5 secs

Starting position: Start with your feet hip width apart and the thera-band held in both hands at shoulder height on the right side. The Thera-band should be attached behind you at shoulder height.

Step 1: Take a step forward with your left foot taking up any slack in the thera-band

Step2: Kneel with your left knee touching the floor while at the same pulling the thera-band forward and across your boding until your right hand is past your left knee.

Notes: The step forward into the kneeling position should be a continuous motion and your arm should come across your body in time with this.

Step 3: From the kneeling positon return to the standing position by pushing off your left leg and bringing your left foot in line with your right. At the same time rotating your upper body and allow your arms to return to the starting position in a controlled manner.

Exercise: Kettlebell swings

Anatomical Sling: Deep Longitudinal Sling.

Muscles and structures used: Erector Spinae, thoracolumbar fascia, gluteals, hamstrings and peroneus longus

Benefits: General strengthening of the posterior sling to assist in lifting heavy objects and also deceleration in hip flexors during running.

Equipment Required: Kettlebell or Medicine Ball.

Aim for 3 Sets of 10 Repetitions.

Starting position: Start with your feet hip width apart, toes pointing out, knees slightly bent andlooking straight ahead. The kettlebell held in both hands

Step 1: Bend your hips back, your knees will automatically bend also and allow the kettlebell to swing between your legs.

Note: You should keep your back arched and as the kettlebell goes back you should notice the weight transferring onto your heels

Step 2: Squeezing your glutes and thrusting your hips forward return to a standing position. As you stand up maintain straight arms and the kettle bell should come up no higher than shoulder height.

Step 3: Maintain a straight arm and return to Step 1 by bending your hips and knees while keeping your back arched.

Note: There are numerous variations on the kettle bell swing and a quick search online will show you single arm or single leg variations of the above.

Listed above are three simple exercises suggested by Physio and More that can be incorporated into your gym program. They have a few common themes; they are full body exercises using upper and lower limbs concurrently while also linking both of these with core activation. No external support is used to ensure maximal core and stabiliser activation. Muscles are activated in a sequential manner and one that is mimicked in real sporting environments.  They are intuitive movements and not circus acts, the kettle bell swing “feels right”, if you disagree try doing the opposite ie: squatting while lifting a medicine ball above your head.

I hope you found this post useful and remember there are endless variations on upper limb and lower limb combined exercises. Have fun.