Your fearless functional fitness plan
Improve your balance, flexibility, and strength with this workout. We promise, these refreshing moves will make you fall in love with going to the gym.
Every few months, it pays to revamp your workout. Not only is it a great way to bust a workout plateau so you continue getting results, but it also keeps boredom away. This plan by Shwetambari Shetty, a 35-year-old Bengaluru-based fitness trainer, will do more than just get you losing inches. The plan focusses on boosting functional fitness. She explains: "Whether you are lifting your toddler, climbing a set of stairs, or lugging a suitcase, your body is performing complex movements. Any form of training designed to improve these movements is called functional fitness." It'll help prevent injury, develop your strength, enhance quality of life and ensure you remain independent well into your retirement years.
To keep things dynamic (and more fun), we added on a few bits of equipment. Do each move for 10 to 12 repetitions before going on to the next move. For best results do it every alternate day so your body has time to recover between sessions.
Barbell Sumo Deadlift High Pull
Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Squat down by bending your knees and pushing your glutes back as you reach for the barbell. Keep back flat, chest up, and head aligned with the spine. Grip the barbell with both hands. Find the right position by sticking your thumbs out so that they meet each other at the very centre of the bar.
(a). Stand up, keeping your arms straight as you pull the barbell off the ground. Next, pull the barbell up so that it comes in line with your collarbone
(b). Gently lower down and repeat. Always keep the bar close to the body.
MAKE IT EASY: Beginners can do this with a PVC pipe to get the form and technique right. Once you feel confident and ready to make things a bit more challenging, graduate to the barbell and add light weights.
BENEFITS: It strengthens the glutes, a hamstrings, and lower back.
Wall Ball Shots
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Grab the medicine ball with both hands with elbows at sides. Squat as deep as you can without lifting your heels, keeping the ball right in front of you
(a). Then, stand up quickly, using the momentum from the squat to throw the ball up to a target on the wall
(b). Targets should be about 10 feet high. When the ball starts its descent, stand with hands overhead, ready to receive the impact. As soon as the ball hits your fingers, let it push you down into another squat. Repeat. Do as many repetitions as possible.
MAKE IT EASY: Use a light ball and do the move slowly, focussing on squatting low and getting the aim right. Make it challenging by using a heavy ball and increasing the speed and reps.
BENEFITS: Utilizes the entire body and offers great cardio-respiratory gains.
Toes to Bar
Hang on a pull-up bar, or a good set of monkey bars if you want to train in a park. Place your hands at a distance slightly wider than your shoulders
(a). Bring your thighs closer to the chest then send your toes up to the bar
(b). Draw strength and speed from your midsection, and focus on really squeezing your abs. Avoid swinging.
MAKE IT EASY: Begin by hanging from the bar for as long as possible. Once you develop a good grip and shoulder strength gradually try to bring the knees to the chest.
BENEFITS: It engages your entire core. Hello, slimmer tummy!
Medicine Ball Throws
Lie on your back with the ball resting on the floor a few inches above your head. Then, reach up and grasp the ball with your hands
(a). Sit up, pull the ball overhead and throw it at something or play catch with someone in front of you
(b). Once the ball comes back, return to start and repeat.
MAKE IT EASY: Do the move without a ball. Just sit up and throw your hands forward. Then, once you feel ready, start using a light (3 kg) medicine ball. BENEFITS: This move shapes the shoulders, back, and abdomen.
Hand-Stand Crawl Ups
Squat down with your back to the wall. Place your hands on the ground and reach one foot up as high as possible on the wall
(a). Keep your arms straight, and then reach the other foot up onto the wall. 'Walk' your hands towards the wall, keeping your body straight so you end up in a handstand
(b). If you can't get your hands to the wall, that's okay. Just keep your body straight and your feet together. Hold the position for 20 seconds To come back down, gradually walk your hands away from the wall and let your feet find their way back to the floor.
MAKE IT EASY: Try putting your feet up onto a box or table. When you graduate to the wall, get your feet as high as you can each time.
BENEFITS: Improves balance and coordination as it boosts neuromuscular efficiency.
Place the kettlebell on the floor several inches in front of you. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, chest up and shoulders back and down. Squat as you reach forward and grab the kettlebell with both hands
(a). As you lift it off the floor, swing the kettlebell forward and up to chest level, with arms extended, in a fluid move. As your hips thrust forward, engage the mid-section and squeeze your butt. Keep your knees soft, with your body weight resting in your heels and your arms straight and loose. Sit back and lower, repeating the movement
MAKE IT EASY: Start with a low weight like 4 kg and as you progress, make it challenging by increasing the weight to 8 kg, 12 kg and so on.
BENEFITS: Strengthens the large muscles of the back and the glutes. It improves cardiovascular fitness and helps burn fat.
Stand in front of the box, not right up against it, but at a comfortable distance, feet shoulder-width apart
(a). To jump, go into a slight squat, swing your arms, and jump up on to the box. Then, stand all the way up
(b). Be light on your feet and step back on the floor. Boxes can be 50 cm, 66, or 81 cm (approx) high. Start with a smaller box and work your way up.
MAKE IT EASY: People with knee problems should avoid the jump and step up one foot at a time.
BENEFITS: A calorie-blasting move that improves cardiovascular function.
Ring rows are a little like pull-ups, but because the rings are adjustable, you can set them to an appropriate height to alter the degree of difficulty. The higher the rings, the easier the move. Grab a hold of the rings and then allow your body to lie back until your arms are fully straight. Your feet should be at least 30 cm in front of the rings, so that you can maintain a straight, plank-like body.
(a). Pull your chest up towards the rings. Hold for a few seconds
(b) and slowly lower back down to the start position.
MAKE IT EASY: Start with the rings at a higher level and with your feet directly below the rings. To make it challenging, try putting your feet on a box so that they are in alignment with the rings. The highest level of challenge here is to do ring rows with just one arm.
BENEFITS: Ring rows strengthen the back, and maintain shoulder health, preventing shoulder injuries.
Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Hold a barbell overhead with a wide grip
(a). Engage your shoulders and push them up hard into your ears. Keeping the back straight and the chest up, slowly perform a squat until thighs are parallel to the ground
(b). Engage the hips, thighs, and glutes to stand back up, keeping the barbell directly overhead throughout.
MAKE IT EASY: Start with a PVC pipe till you nail the technique and form. Then, graduate to a barbell and progress to adding weights.
BENEFITS: Full body move that promotes better coordination.
Source: Prevention, November 2015.