A1: Hold a DB or KB at chest height. Alternate fluidly from side to side without locking out your hips at the top. The transitions here should be very smooth and controlled. Try to get as deep into the ROM as possible without compromising your pelvic or spinal position. Attempt to push the stretch a little bit further on each rep to open the hips. Rest ~30 sec before A2.
A2: Adjust the length of the straps and your body position relative to them in order to fall between 8-12 reps with given tempo. Rotate from pronated to neutral through the concentric. Get a full ROM and maximize protraction/retraction of your scaps. Rest ~30 sec before A3.
A3: Assume a quadruped position then lift your knees about an inch off the floor. Your knees, hips, and shoulders should all be at 90º flexion and your back should be flat. Perform these as very small and controlled movements so as to not compromise your the position of your trunk. Think about balancing a cup of water on your back as you go through the set. The first 20 total steps should be forwards then reverse the movement and go backwards. Full rest before returning to A1.
B: Slowly work up to a potentiation set of one rep. This set should be about an 8RPE so not the heaviest thing in the world but also enough to feel it and strain a bit. Do NOT fatigue yourself here—The goal is to prime your nervous system before dropping back down to the working sets. After hitting the potentiation set, reduce load by ~20% and get in some volume. The reps should move better than normal and the weight should feel lighter. Make sure to take ample rest between sets!
C: Set these up as if you’re going to perform normal barbell OHP but use your legs to assist through the concentric. Control the eccentric on your own. So in a sense, this should be overloading the eccentric portion of the rep! Make sure to brace your abs hard and maintain a strong, rigid torso. Take your time working up to find a suitable load with the intensity given then build volume. These should be explosive reps! Take your time between sets.
D1: Keep the bar from C in the same rack but adjust the load for front squats now! Make sure to warmup properly and don’t just jump right into working sets. Get a full ROM on the squats and control the tempo. Choose whichever hand position feels the most comfortable for you and allows you to use the most load. Rest as needed before D2.
D2: Get setup as if you’re performing a normal floor press. Then lift your legs up into a deadbug position with knees and hips at 90ª flexion. The press should also be locked out here as well. As you perform the eccentric of the press, straighten your left leg out like you would with an unloaded alternating deadbug. And when you press the DBs back up, the leg should come back to the start. Alternate legs like this with each rep of the presses. This will require a ton of coordination so take your time! Rest as needed before returning to D1.
E: Perform these as a tabata with 20 sec of work followed by 40 sec of rest. The lunge jacks should be explosive so you can switch legs in the air between reps. Make sure to keep your body rigid and be careful on each landing. Try to get as many reps in the “work” time. Perform 10 rounds of this!
You might not believe it, but back in my prime, I was something of the respectable athlete.
Revisionist history tend to lead to hyperbole running rampant, so I’ll keep my bragging humble when I say that I’ve dunked at least .75 times in my life. (It was off an alley-oop but I’m rounding up!)
And beyond that core memory from 10th grade PE, I wasn’t the worst free safety or center-fielder either.
So you might be wondering…What happened?!
Well—I got into bodybuilding.
By the time I turned 16, I had already jumped in head-first. My mind couldn’t focus on anything other than my next workout; school be damned!
Math transformed from base 10 to base 45.
Physics swirled in my brain as visualizations of joint angles and muscular levers.
Chemistry was a cake walk when every other bodybuilding dot com forum post was on the newest SARM or heat-shock proteins or how the laws of thermodynamics relate to macronutrients.
Philosophical musings from a carb-depleted Kai could’ve rivaled the Classical Greeks.
And Linguistics? Don’t worry, I learned from the masters of the craft: Ronnie and Arnold. “YEAH BUDDY” is a central Louisiana dialect right?
Bodybuilding began to dominate my life, and every decision I made from then on was done so in order to “optimize” my muscle building capabilities. I learned early on that training for hypertrophy was very different from that of performance. And if I was ever going to make Platz proud, all that running, jumping, and throwing I was doing before needed to be phased out.
I definitely accomplished the goal of putting on tons of muscle and transforming my physique. Hell, I even happened to get pretty strong in the process.
But in this transition, a compromise was made. I made a deal with the devil—I got muscles but had to give up my athleticism.
On the surface, that doesn’t sound like the worst blood oath you can make with the man downstairs. But if I knew then what I know now, my outlook and approach to training would be very, very different.
For those who are currently in 16-year-old Bryce’s shoes and obsessed with bodybuilding, continue reading this essay. Hopefully I can share some wisdom and experience to persuade you along a better path.
Before we get started, we need to define two important terms: athleticism and functional movement.
Athleticism is the magnitude of physical ability one has when performing a wide array of physical tasks or activities. Though we inherently associate athleticism with sports and competition, it’s even more important in the context of normal life. An “athletic” person is able to move their body effectively and efficiently, whether it be for sports, work, or (especially) emergencies.
Functional movement is a concept that refers to the natural patterns that we can expect to encounter in everyday life. This includes activities such as lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, and bending, as well as more complex movements like running, jumping, and throwing.
Think of functional movements as the way in which we can measure athleticism. If someone is broadly proficient (on average) across the spectrum of functional movements, they would be considered athletic or “functional”.
It’s clear how this concept relates to competitive sports like football and basketball, but the true implications are vast.
As we age, our bodies naturally become more susceptible to the effects of environmental stressors, such as injuries, illness, and chronic diseases. Maintaining base levels of athleticism and functionality can help us better withstand these stressors and maintain our overall health. For example, having good balance and coordination can help prevent falls, and being physically fit can improve our immune system function and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Athleticism and functional movement are a measure of one's ability to withstand environmental volatility—They reflect an individual's physical capacity to adapt and respond to a range of different physical demands and challenges. This can include both external factors such as changes in terrain or weather conditions, as well as internal factors such as fatigue or illness.
In addition to helping individuals to perform at a high level, athleticism and functional movement also play a role in overall health and well-being. Engaging in physical activity and maintaining good functional movement skills can help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, as well as improve mental health and cognitive function.
While it is important to have specific goals in mind when exercising, it is also important to have a well-rounded training program that includes a variety of exercises and activities. This is because athleticism and functionality are not just about being good at one specific task or movement, but about being able to adapt and perform a variety of physical tasks effectively. This ability is a product of generalized and robust training methodologies including:
- Strength training: Think squats, bench press, and pull-ups
- Cardiovascular exercise: Running, cycling, and swimming.
- Flexibility work: Stretching, yoga, and Pilates.
- Balance and coordination drills: Alternating birddogs, ladder drills, or Bosu-ball exercises.
By continuously challenging the body in a variety of different ways, these training approaches can help to improve overall physical fitness and functional capacity, as well as reduce the risk of injury. In addition, this type of training can be highly adaptable and flexible, making it suitable for a wide range of individuals and goals.
Counter-examples of generalized and robust training methodologies would be activities that focus on developing a specific skill or movement pattern to the exclusion of others. For example, training for a marathon would be a specific type of cardiovascular exercise that is not necessarily well-rounded or robust. Similarly, training for a specific sport or activity, such as golf or tennis, may involve developing specific skills and movement patterns, but may not provide a well-rounded level of physical fitness.
Hyper-specific hypertrophy and strength training, which refers to training that is focused on a specific muscle group or movement pattern, is negatively correlated to athleticism and functionality in the sense that it may not provide the same benefits as more generalized and robust training approaches. While hyper-specific training can certainly help to improve muscle size and strength, it may not necessarily translate to improved functional capacity or overall physical performance.
One of the key differences between hyper-specific training and generalized and robust training is the focus on developing specific skills or movement patterns. While this type of training can certainly be effective for improving muscle size and strength, it may not provide the same level of overall physical fitness and functional capacity as more well-rounded training approaches. For example, someone who focuses on training a specific muscle group may not necessarily have the same level of cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, or coordination as someone who engages in a more diverse range of physical activities.
While having as much muscle mass as possible is the name-of-the-game in bodybuilding, having too much can actually restrain athleticism. This is because excessive muscle mass can lead to increased body weight and size, which can make it more difficult to move and perform certain physical tasks with ease and efficiency.
One of the key factors that can be affected by excessive muscle mass is mobility. When the body is carrying around too much extra weight, it can be more difficult to move and perform certain movements with ease and flexibility. This can limit functional movement and make it more challenging to perform tasks that require a range of motion, such as lifting, carrying, or reaching.
In addition to limiting mobility, excessive muscle mass can also impact athletic performance. For many sports and activities, having too much muscle mass can make it more difficult to move quickly and agilely, as the body has to work harder to carry around the extra weight. This can make it more challenging to perform at a high level, particularly in sports that require speed, agility, and quick movements.
Specific hypertrophy training can also lead to the conversion of type 2 muscle fibers to type 1 fibers, which can in turn limit athleticism and functional movement. This is because type 1 muscle fibers, also known as "slow-twitch" fibers, are better suited for endurance activities, while type 2 fibers, also known as "fast-twitch" fibers, are better suited for short bursts of intense activity.
When specific hypertrophy training is focused on increasing muscle size and strength in a particular muscle group or movement pattern, it can lead to an increase in type 1 muscle fibers at the expense of type 2 fibers. This can be detrimental to athletic performance, as type 2 fibers are typically more important for activities that require speed, power, and explosive movements.
In addition to limiting athletic performance, the conversion of type 2 fibers to type 1 fibers can also impact functional movement. This is because type 1 fibers are not as effective at generating force and power as type 2 fibers, which can make it more challenging to perform certain tasks that require strength and power.
Ensuring that training is well-rounded and diverse can help to maintain a balance of both type 1 and type 2 muscle fibers, which can help to improve overall physical performance and functional capacity.
In parallel to the issues we see with bodybuilding, specific strength work can lead to stiffness in joints and rigidity in soft tissues, which can in turn limit athleticism and functional movement. This is because powerlifting and other forms of strength training often involve exercises that are performed in a limited range of motion, such as squats and deadlifts, which can lead to increased stiffness and rigidity in the joints and soft tissues.
One of the key consequences of stiffness and rigidity in the joints and soft tissues is a reduction in mobility and flexibility. When the body becomes stiff and rigid, it can be more difficult to move and perform certain movements with ease and fluidity. This can limit functional movement and make it more challenging to perform tasks that require a range of motion, such as lifting, carrying, or reaching.
Stiffness and rigidity can make it more difficult to move quickly and agilely, as the body has to work harder to overcome the resistance provided by the non-pliable tissues. This can make it more challenging to perform at a high level, particularly in sports that require speed, agility, and quick movements.
The saying "if you don’t use it, you lose it" definitely applies to athleticism and functional abilities. It is important to regularly challenge and use our bodies in order to maintain good athleticism and functionality. This can be as simple as going for a walk or hike, or participating in a sport or fitness class. It is also important to vary our physical activities and try new things in order to keep our bodies fresh.
Athleticism and functional abilities can diminish over time if they are not trained for regularly, as the body will naturally adapt to the demands placed upon it. When we engage in physical activity, we stimulate the body to adapt and improve in order to meet the demands of the activity. However, if we do not continue to challenge the body with new and varied physical demands, it will begin to lose the adaptations that it has made and will start to degrade.
One of the key factors that contribute to the loss of athleticism and functional abilities over time is the natural process of aging. As we age, our bodies undergo a number of changes that can impact physical performance, including a decrease in muscle mass and strength, a decline in cardiovascular endurance, and a reduction in flexibility and range of motion. These changes can be exacerbated if we do not continue to engage in physical activity and challenge the body with new and varied demands.
Another factor that can contribute to the loss of athleticism and functional abilities is a lack of physical activity. When we do not engage in regular physical activity, our bodies do not receive the stimuli needed to maintain and improve physical fitness. This can lead to a gradual decline in athleticism and functional abilities over time.
Maintaining athleticism and functional abilities requires regular physical activity that challenges the body in a variety of different ways. By engaging in a well-rounded and diverse range of physical activities, we can help to maintain and improve physical fitness and functional capacity over time.
Upkeep of athleticism and functionality can increase your quality of life as you age in a number of different ways. One of the key benefits is that it can help you to maintain independence and autonomy as you age. By being able to perform everyday tasks with ease and efficiency, you can continue to live an active and fulfilling life, rather than becoming dependent on others for assistance.
In addition to maintaining independence, maintaining athleticism and functionality can also help to improve overall health and well-being as you age. Engaging in regular physical activity and maintaining good functional movement skills can help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, as well as improve mental health and cognitive function.
By prioritizing these qualities, you can continue to live an active and fulfilling life, and enjoy the numerous health and well-being benefits that come with regular physical activity.
To wrap this up thing up, here are the takeaways:
Athleticism and functional movement are important aspects of overall physical fitness and can have numerous benefits for both physical and mental health. Engaging in athletic activities and maintaining proficient functional movement skills can improve cardiovascular endurance, muscle strength and flexibility, and can also help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. In addition to the physical benefits, athleticism and functional movement can also have a positive impact on mental health, boosting self-esteem and confidence, and providing a sense of accomplishment and well-being.
However, it is important to ensure that training approaches are well-rounded and diverse in order to maintain and improve athleticism and functional movement. Hyper-specific training that focuses on a specific muscle group or movement pattern can limit athleticism and functional movement, as can excessive muscle mass and stiffness and rigidity in the joints and soft tissues. On the other hand, generalized and robust training methodologies that challenge the body in a variety of different ways can help to improve overall physical fitness and functional capacity, as well as reduce the risk of injury.
Overall, incorporating athleticism and functional movement into a healthy lifestyle can have a wide range of positive impacts on both physical and mental health. By engaging in physical activity and maintaining good functional movement skills, we can improve our overall health and well-being, and enjoy the numerous benefits that come with being physically fit and functional.