You may not be asked to bench press a car tomorrow, but you very well may find yourself helping someone push that car into a nearby gas station.
A bit of strength with some core stability will go a long way in such a situation. Functional exercises translate well to everyday movements.
Medicine balls are an awesome piece of gym equipment. Adding a medicine ball to a basic exercise is a good way of making that movement more functional.
Medicine balls are a safe way to simulate complex, everyday movements in the gym. If you work behind a desk for a living, you may eventually need to get up from your chair. Getting up from a seated position is essentially a squat. Are you ever holding something when you stand up from the couch? That's a weighted squat.
When I stand up from the rocking chair holding my sleeping daughter, I have to get up slowly so I don't wake her. If my core isn't tight or I lean too far forward when standing, she'll wake up. I'd rather do one, good, functional squat instead of an ugly one and risk waking our sleeping baby.
Doing squats while holding a medicine ball against your chest with both hands can help condition you to have sleeping-baby friendly movements. Medicine balls are built to be sturdy. You can drop them, throw them at a buddy and even slam them on the ground. They won't break.
Holding something round is harder than holding something with handles. This is another reason medicine balls make good, functional tools. Their awkward nature prepares you for a variety of daily tasks.
Have you ever filled your pet's water bowl too full? Instead of dumping some out, you decide to risk the journey to the food mat. Let's break down that movement. You are using your fingertips to hold a heavy bowl that needs to remain still while you're walking. Hopefully, your core is tight and your back is straight.
Then you have to bend over and set the bowl down. Maybe you use a dead lift, deep squat or a lunge to do this. You would never bend over with a rounded back, right? If you do, you may need to train your lower body some more.
If your pet is the anxious kind, she is jumping on you and throwing off your balance in anticipation of the water. Those with larger animals might need to train their balance more than those with smaller ones.
Functional training will prepare you to perform everyday tasks better and better. When you leave the gym, don't forget to take the good form habits with you into the world.
Both of today's exercises use the medicine ball. The medicine ball knee kick uses balance and some over-the-head movement to challenge you. The medicine ball pushup is the progressed form of a regular pushup. It will prove difficult even for those who have mastered the basic pushup.
These exercises work well in circuits as well as a stand-alone movement. Once you have them down, throw them in with a few of your other favorites for a fast-paced workout. Check out the videos online to see variations and progressions of both exercises. Always start with a lighter medicine ball and work yourself up to the heavier ones.
Chris Huth is a Las Vegas trainer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.