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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Two Approaches to a Single Full-Body Exercise

With the new year just a week away I know many of you plan to start exercise programs. Here's yet another idea that might help you create a program that's easier for you to keep doing.

A couple of days back I did a post about eccentric exercises. In an eccentric exercise you use what exercise geeks call the 'negative' part of an exercise to get stronger. The example I used was a pull-up; an eccentric version uses the downward move to build strength. (Go back and check out the post if you don't understand how that works.)

Today I'll give you two different examples of full-body exercises -- that is, a single exercise that works all of the major muscle groups at once. I'll talk about why you might want to go this route in a minute.

Golf Digest's fitness advisor Ben Shear posted this full-body exercise he designed. I'm just showing the diagram below; he explains each step in the post. But you can see that one repetition of the exercise works many different muscle groups.

Full-body workout with one exercise

For comparison, here's an old standard that doesn't require any extra equipment at all. It's called a burpee, which is a ridiculously funny name for a really tough exercise. In this short video Kelsey Lee demonstrates one version of the exercise -- I've seen more complex versions -- and explains exactly how this exercise trains your whole body.

The reason full-body exercises are so neat is because you use a minimum of equipment -- or none at all with the burpee. Since you don't have to learn a lot of different movements, it's quick to learn and you can focus on doing the exercise properly. And because the one exercise gives you a full body workout, you can add one or two specific exercises if you find that you need to build some extra strength in one area of your body.

Full-body exercises tend to be harder than individual exercises because you don't waste time stopping between movements to change weights or reset machines. That also means that you can do shorter workouts and still get a lot of work done. But harder doesn't mean you have to hurt yourself. You can just do the movement more slowly if necessary.

The idea is to push yourself a little, not strain yourself a lot.

And with the burpee you can have an added advantage. In the beginning you can do them slowly and count repetitions... but as you get stronger, your endurance will increase and you can begin to treat them like an aerobic workout. That means you can change from a number of reps to a number of minutes. That's a true power workout.

There are a variety of full-body workout routines around. Some use four or five bodyweight exercises -- like push-ups and squats -- so you don't have to stop between sets. Others use a single complex movement like the ones I mentioned in this post. But either way, you may find that this approach is a good way to create an exercise routine you can stay with.

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