Total Body Strength: The Best 6 Exercises You’ve Never Done
Written by: Evan Whitemyer CF South Shore L-1 Coach
Throwing hundreds of pounds on a bar and half-repping squats isn’t cool. We are entering a new age of fitness, where moving well and looking good reigns supreme to bro-reps. Functional movements have been proven time and time again to improve posture and increase movement efficiency in our daily lives. It’s time to step outside your comfort zone. As coaches, having our members perform a wide variety of exercises is essential in developing well-rounded and healthy humans. Here are some of my favorite core, leg, and upper body movements that can help you build a strong foundation. Make sure to view the links for videos on how to perform each movement!
- Pallof Press
Regarded by coaches as an amazing core exercise, all you need for a Pallof Press is just a resistance band. Simply set the band up at chest height attached to a post, face your body perpendicular to the band, pull the band out so that there is tension, press out, and pull back in. Although pressing will activate the shoulders, this exercise focuses on anti-rotational core strength. Bringing a band under tension and then pressing will force the obliques, glutes, and rotator cuff muscles to contract so that the core does not rotate back towards the band’s anchor point. When doing Pallof Presses I recommend 4 sets of 15-20 reps with a relatively light resistance band. Being able to create a rigid and strong core is crucial for maintaining good posture.
- Filly Press
A twist on the dumbbell press, 4x CrossFit Games athlete Marcus Filly introduced the Filly Press in his Functional Bodybuilding program. All you is one dumbbell and one kettlebell. This movement is designed to keep the upper body under tension by having one arm hold the kettlebell in the front rack position, and the other arm performing an Arnold Press. The isometric hold for the kettlebell arm will force the body to generate more core tension in order to stay upright, forcing the scapula and shoulder to activate more in order to continue the Arnold Press. For reps on Filly Presses I prefer heavy weight and and less reps, usually doing 4-5 sets of 8 reps.
- KB Front Rack Bulgarian Split Squat
The Bulgarian Split Squat is a great way to build strong glutes while getting an awesome leg pump. With one foot elevated to the rear, lower the back knee down and then use the front leg to stand up. Seems easy right? Now add two kettlebells in the front rack position. Along with some added weight to make the legs stronger, the core now has to be braced so the chest can stay upright. Keeping the core and shoulders under tension for the duration of the movement will help with breathing, tempo, and posture. Along with an added challenge for the core, adding unilateral movements into training is a major factor an athlete’s ability to move better and get stronger. For this exercise I recommend performing 3-4 sets, doing 15 reps per leg with a very light weight or 8 reps per leg with a heavier weight.
- D-Ball Carry
I had never done enough loaded carries until I started reading articles by Dr. John Rusin. After learning how beneficial loaded carries are for injury prevention, core and hip strength, and full body stability, one of my favorite exercises became the D-Ball Carry. All you need is a relatively heavy sandbag, medicine ball, or d-ball. Lift the up to the stomach, and walk around.. Maintaining an upright chest while walking will challenge the anterior core, glutes, spinal extensors, and rotator cuff. When doing carries I like to add them in between sets of another exercise. For example I will do 4 sets of pull-ups with a 100-foot carry in between each set.
- Dirty 30s
I was first introduced to “Dirty 30s” by Jason Brown of Box Programming back in 2017, and it has become a staple in my upper body programming ever since. This exercise is the perfect balance of a tricep burner and chest pump. With only two dumbbells, athletes can perform skull crushers, DB presses, and skullcrushers into a DB press in one massive set that will set your arms on fire. The magic behind this movement is the switching of agonist muscles and stabilizer muscles. During the skullcrusher, the triceps contract and the pectoralis (pecs) become the stabilizer muscle. When switching to the DB press, the pecs now become the agonist muscles with the triceps as stabilizers. Now after two movements, the skullcrusher into a DB press will put stress on the triceps and pecs, a perfect example of muscle overload that can be used to make massive strength gains. When doing this exercise I recommend 3 sets of 10-10-10 reps. This is 10 skullcrushers, 10 DB presses, and 10 skullcrushers into DB presses.
- Sorenson Hold
The Sorenson Hold was first tested in 1964 to predict lower back pain in males. The movement involves laying on a Glute-Ham Developer (GHD) with the chest facing the ground and holding the upper body in a position parallel to the ground. Although tests are still being done to prove how predictive low back pain can be, it is undeniable that strengthening the lower back through isometric holds can result in healthier humans. The Sorenson Hold tests muscular endurance in the lower back and can help ensure proper tension generation, which will have a major impact on movements such as the deadlift, squat, and olympic lifts. A great time for a Sorenson Hold is around 2 minutes, but for beginners I recommend doing a tabata of the movement. This is 8 rounds of 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest.
- Bodybuilding, Functional. “Standing Filly Press.” YouTube, YouTube, 24 May 2018.
- Brown, Jason. “Banded Pallof Press.” YouTube, YouTube, 21 June 2018.
- Brown, Jason. “Dirty 30s.” YouTube, YouTube, 15 May 2017.
- Cerbie, James. “Www.rebel-Performance.com: 2 Kettlebell Front Rack Bulgarian Split Squat.” YouTube, YouTube, 4 Nov. 2014.
- Cooper, Chris. “10 Smart Loaded Carry Variations For Safer, More Effective Core Strength.” Dr. John Rusin – Exercise Science & Injury Prevention, Dr. John Rusin, 5 Feb. 2017.
- Demoulin, Christophe, et al. “Spinal Muscle Evaluation Using the Sorensen Test: a Critical Appraisal of the Literature.” Joint Bone Spine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Jan. 2006.
- Fitness, Coastal. “D-Ball/Sandbag Carry.” YouTube, YouTube, 10 May 2017.
- TrainFTW. “Sorenson Hold.” YouTube, YouTube, 30 Jan. 2018.
Zack. “Instructional: Biering Sorensen Test.” MoveSKILL, MoveSKILL, 12 July 2014.