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Published on October 10th, 2013 | by Healthy Gay Lifestyles

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Engaging Exercises for Efficient People

by David Smith

One of the biggest things you will hear in regards to fitness and exercise is “functional fitness” which is essentially exercises and workouts designed to help you better function within your daily life. This term is often targeted toward the older population but it applies to everybody regardless of age or activity level.

However upon a visit to a big box gym you will find it is not at all designed to promote functional fitness and in the end people end up wasting a lot of time doing exercises and workouts that won’t do anything in your life outside of the gym. For example the famous Abduction/Adduction machine (where you don’t make eye contact with anybody machine) is popular to use however the movement and benefits of that exercise do not do anything for you in your daily life. (Unless you sit in your chair all day pushing and squeezing things around by opening and closing your legs) so your essentially wasting your time doing a lot of exercises that aren’t really effective.

Not only do machines like these isolate specific muscles but also involve movements that you simply won’t normally do in your daily life. When you are training it is good to target as many muscle groups as you can at once. Not only will this challenge you on a new level but also will burn more calories, better train you for the demands of your life, make you a more effective and stronger person outside of the gym and help you reach your goals much quicker . A good example of an exercise that engages many muscle groups is a squat and press with dumbbells. By holding the dumbbells at your shoulder, performing the squat and on the upwards doing the press you are engaging your glutes, quadriceps, core (back extensors, obliques, abs, transverse abdominis), chest, shoulders, arms, forearms and all the stabilizer muscles in those areas.

Not only is this more engaging for you but in the time it would take you to do 1 set of squats and 1 set of shoulder press separately you can easily pump out 2-3 sets of the squat and press. As well think about how effective this exercise will be in your daily life. Simply lifting and carrying a box requires all the same muscle groups you are targeting to work together at the same time. There is no use in training them separately just to try and use them together.

Remember it also burns more calories and can help you achieve your goals much quicker! Combining upper, lower body and core exercises can help you do more at once and make better use of your limited time at the gym. Every exercise you do should engage your core, the way to engage your core is simply to suck it in, as in pull your belly button into your spine like your trying to fit into some tight pants. It is essentially doubling your workout, and doubling the amount of calories you burn in the same amount of time! Who wouldn’t love that?

So are you ready to check out these exercises?

Squat and Press w/ Dumbbells

Squat stance with your feet a little wider than shoulder with and toes forward. Elbows into your chest and dumbbells resting at your shoulders. Back straight and tall, core tight (suck it in!) Squat down (butt past your knees). Squat up and press the dumbbells up above your head. Press down and squat down, repeat.

Plank Up

Standard plank position, alternate hands going from elbows to hands and back to elbows. Keep your back flat and butt at the same level as your shoulders. Alternate lead hand.

Pull Up

On a pull up bar or tree or whatever you can find. Each grip will target different muscles (wide grip is more chest, narrow grip is more arms) Simply hang there and focus on stabilizing your body (keep it from swinging around) without lifting your chin, pull your shoulders up to your hand and slowly back down. Again work on stabilizing yourself and not swing around.

Bear Crawl

On your hands and feet, keep your butt low to the ground and crawl forward stepping with the arm and opposite leg. Bring your knee up to your elbow and rotate your hips to the side on each step.

Shuffle Walk

Start off in a plank position and step to the side with your hand and foot at the same time, and step it together with the opposite side.

Burpee

Perform a pushup, jump your knees to your chest, come up and do a squat hop, back down to your hands and do another pushup.

Buzz Saw (on TRX)

Suspend your feet in the TRX band and hold a plank on your elbows. Moving forward and backward (using your elbows as the pivot point) while holding the plank.

Don’t be afraid to experiment! It’ll definitely make your workout more challenging but in the end it’ll be much more effective. Always remember not to sacrifice technique and focus on safety first. Also again keep your core engaged by sucking it in and don’t be afraid to ask questions or for new ideas.

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David Smith is an exercise professional and specializes in exercise, nutrition and wellness programs for the GLBT community. He is the owner of Stonewall Fitness and is working to bring the LGBT community together through physical activity.

His passion lies in promoting the physical, mental and social benefits of exercise and healthy diet and to unite the LGBT community by breaking down the stigmas and barriers often associated with exercise and fitness to make it accessible for everybody. He currently leads several fitness programs, one on one personal training and athletic conditioning programs. He is a regular contributor to MileHighGayGuy and HealthyGayLifestyles with articles in regards to physical activity, health and wellness.

In his personal endeavors, He is also an active athlete having competed in swimming, taekwondo, triathlon and running events. Highlights of his athletic career include winning six medals and setting a meet record at the 2010 Gay Games in swimming. Competing on the national collegiate level in taekwondo and swimming, training to compete in his first full Ironman, having completed several half Ironmans and finishing severak marathona. David currently swims and coaches with the Denver Squid Swim Team and is training for the 2014 Gay Games and to swim the Greek Isle’s as well as run the original marathon course from Marathon to Athens, Greece. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science in exercise science from Metropolitan State University of Denver and holds several fitness certifications including ACSM Personal Trainer and Group Fitness.

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