How to Maximize Your Strength Workout with Full-Body Movements

While strength training benefits are well documented, it’s easy to become frustrated if you stop seeing significant progress week-to-week. Continuing to reap the rewards from a strength training program requires change! But don’t let that scare you. Spicing up your routine by adding some new moves to your workouts should do the trick. And we’ve got just the plan to help you do that!

Before you dive into the workouts we have created to help break through your plateaus, be sure you have a solid foundation. If you haven’t lifted weights before or seen a weight machine or a dumbbell in quite some time, it’s important to ease into a regular weight-lifting program. Beginning with a straight forward, machine-based weight lifting routine is the perfect way to stay injury-free while building confidence. Machines allow you to focus on form, add weight slowly, and acclimate to moving more than just your body weight. After a few weeks, you can step up your program to include free weight type exercises. This will keep you moving toward your goals!

Once you’ve established the habit, you’ll want to add full-body, functional movements to your routine. Whether you’re interested in reshaping your body, dropping a few pounds, or simply feeling better, you will definitely benefit from this approach to weight lifting. Functional exercises focus on common movement patterns versus other exercises that attempt to isolate and overload one muscle at a time. By training movement patterns you use multiple muscles simultaneously and engage your core throughout. That equals a challenging workout that will work you from head to toe, inside-out!

Types of Functional Exercises to Develop

Functional workouts mix and match exercises that fall into four movement patterns:

Upper Body Pulling Movements – The upper body can pull vertically or horizontally. Vertical pulling movements include any type of pull-up. Horizontal pulling movements include any kind of rowing exercise.

Upper Body Pushing Movements – The upper body can push vertically or horizontally. Vertical pushing movements include overhead pressing exercises. Horizontal pushing includes push-ups or bench press type exercises.

Hip Dominant Lower Body Movements – Exercises such as bridges, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, and lunges are considered hip dominant.

Knee Dominant Lower Body Movements – Exercises such as squats and step-ups are considered knee dominant.

When looking to maximize the benefits of a full-body, functional workout, you may see some of the above movement patterns combined. Combining upper and lower body movements not only prepares the body for everyday life, but it increases the number of calories you burn! So, you’ll be able to decrease the amount of time you’re strength training but see similar—if not better—results than when you first begin lifting weights or working out on machines. Keep in mind, these type of exercises require a bit more coordination and care. While you might be tempted to jump in and start with our Level 3 workout, we’d caution you to build up. If you’re anxious, seek the help of a certified fitness professional. A certified trainer can help guide you and make sure you stay safe when executing these movements.

Weight Lifting Level 3 Workout A   Weight Lifting Level 3 Workout B


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Shannon Fable, 2013 IDEA and 2006 ACE Instructor of the Year, is the VP of Fitness Programming for the FIT4MOM® franchise. For more than two decades, she has helped impressive brands such as Anytime Fitness, Schwinn®, Power Systems, ACE, Silver Sneakers, and BOSU® as a fitness business and programming consultant. An experienced educator, freelance writer, and certified Book Yourself Solid® Business Coach, she helps fitness entrepreneurs navigate the industry and make more money. Fable serves as Vice Chair of the ACE Board of Directors and is the founder and co-owner of GroupEx PRO®, a cloud-based group fitness management tool.