By Miguel J. Ortiz
One very important thing I learned when going through rehab and physical therapy is that after strengthening and lengthening I had to coordinate my movement with the rest of my body. It was a building process that I was not expecting to be very difficult, but it absolutely required a lot of focus and taught me a great deal about movement.
When it comes to exercise, it’s great to look good. However, to move well and feel good while doing it is just as, if not more, important when it comes to longevity. In order to do that, we need to maintain our normal exercise routine while also doing exercises that will improve our general movement patterns. The following three total body exercises will challenge your flexibility. They will also improve your core balance, coordination and strength.
The first movement is the gorilla squat (youtu.be/oNxM7zC-iPI). This exercise, right off the bat, will challenge your hamstring, shoulder, hip and lower back flexibility. You want to start the exercise as low as possible. In this case, putting your fingers under your toes. If needed, try grabbing from a higher position (knees) and then work your way down. Try to bend the knees while driving wide and keeping your arms straight. If possible, maintain a neutral spine on bottom and top. This exercise can easily be used as part of a warm-up routine or slowed down for a yoga pose. It can also be used at the end of a workout to crush your hamstrings. Either way, be sure to add this one to your routine. Do three rounds of 10 reps.
The second movement will challenge your total body core strength and balance. It is the single leg touchdown to balance with a curl and press (youtu.be/JCZW2GuXuTA). While balancing on one foot, hover the other in the air, perform a single leg squat while reaching your right hand to balancing your left foot. If you cannot reach your foot, start at highest position and work your way down. After coming upright, perform a high knee with a curl then a shoulder press. This movement has many fundamental patterns that will help develop general athleticism. It’s a great warm up before going into a strength phase of training or for improving core strength and joint stability. Do three rounds of 6-8 reps a side. Be sure you can control the weight through every phase of motion.
Lastly, we have a great total body movement that can be done with just body weight or be turned into a solid total body strength exercise. It is a kettlebell goblet hinge to squat (youtu.be/yBaTZNMZc-Q). If done with body weight before starting to exercise place your hands behind your head to focus on scapula retraction and spinal alignment. If done with a kettlebell this exercise will challenge your core and leg strength as well as your hip, knee and ankle mobility. The strength development throughout the legs and core can be helpful as a body weight movement to warm up before leg day. It may also be used as a great strength exercise built into a leg or exercise routine. Either way, it’s a great total body movement you don’t want to omit from your program.
Have fun with these new movements and continue to stay active.
– Miguel J. Ortiz is a personal trainer in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a member of the National Personal Trainer Institute and a Certified Nutritional Consultant with more than a decade of professional experience. He can be found on Instagram at @migueljortiz.