Lifting a lot of weight in the gym is great, but once you leave the gym it doesn’t mean much.
Get in on these grueling total body moves to build strength and athletic prowess.
To most, total body exercises means deadlifts, squats and the like. While these do engage huge amounts of muscle, there are plenty of exercises that challenge the total body to another degree.
We’re referring to exercises that make the lower and upper body muscles look good in the mirror and perform in real life scenarios.
Whether your goal is total body conditioning, improving your physique, playing sports, making everyday life easier or just having an awesome workout schedule, these are the moves you need to be doing.
Maybe you are considering a physique competition?!
One of the best events in the summer Olympics is without question, weightlifting.
The Clean and Press and Snatch are two great weightlifting for beginners to start with feats of strength. Picking a weight off the ground and getting it overhead leaves no room for weakness or whining.
These exercises require strength, power, mobility, coordination and a finishing roar that turns a cub into a lion.
These exercises are really the pinnacle of weight lifting for total body strength. They do take quite some time for mastery, but there are plenty of exercises divulged from training for these movements that can be utilized.
Practicing a combo of these movements in one workout or using them to increase strength at the start of different workouts will take you from bench warmer to all-star slugger.
Total Body Break Down
Start including any of the following movements to build muscle using Olympic total body brawn: Deadlift high pull, hang clean, push press, overhead squat, clean, snatch grip deadlift, hang snatch and many more.
These gym workouts require loads of technique and ideally a lifting platform.
If that isn’t available, many of these movements can be replicated using a kettlebell. In fact, using a kettlebell allows for seamless transitions between exercises making for a great total body power circuit. Your lower and upper body muscles will thank you.
Likewise, not many things require every part of the body to work at max capacity.
Adding various medicine ball throws will tune up your training to the next level. Just grab a medium-weighted ball and a partner or wall aiming for 10 reps to start.
#1 Lateral Med Ball Throw
Begin by standing perpendicular to a wall or partner. Bring the ball away from the wall rotating your ankles, knees and hips.rotating your ankles, knees and hips.
In one explosive movement rotate towards the wall and throw the ball as hard as possible.
Catch the ball and repeat the movement. Make sure to fully extend your arms and body to increase the lever length and make the movement more challenging. If you do this exercise right it’s a great arm workout!
It’s also good to start off light as it takes a few throws to figure out when to release the ball so it doesn’t take out any innocent bystanders.
#2 Overhead Hulk Smash
Time to rattle the foundation of the building. The overhead smash is a Viking exercise. It will release any frustration and surely ignite your inner powers.
At first, this might seem like a soccer throw-in. But, when done correctly, it should actually be like a super fast squat negative and abs crunch.
For this move bring a medium to heavy med ball or sandbag overhead then throw it into the ground as hard as possible using your torso and arms. Your body should finish in a squat-like position with the hands down. Either pick up or catch the object and keep on smashing.
Your body should finish in a squat-like position with the hands down. Either pick up or catch the object and keep on smashing.
Even though the goal is to throw it down as fast as you can, don’t rush through and lose power. Five tile-cracking smashes is a lot better than 10 basketball dribbles. To add some extra motivation, feel free to print out a picture of your ex or a rival sports team and use it as a smashing target.
#3 Power Pass
Another great med ball throw is a straightforward power pass. It requires a simultaneous explosion of the upper and lower body muscles that radiate power.
Take an athletic position and face a wall or partner with a med ball at chest height. In one motion, explode forward like a broad jump and throw the med ball as hard as you can. Catch the ball.
Take a few steps back and let her rip. Just like the other movements, this total body plyometric movement is all about making sure each throw is powerful, not how many throws are made.
#4 Farm Strong And Party Strong
Few things define a person’s total body strength more than their ability to pick something up and move it. Weight lifting and moving with the weight is the ultimate test of functional strength. There can be no weak links in your body’s chain. Body conditioning is essential. The whole body must work in unison to maintain a tall back, forward chest and firm grip.
There are countless variations to the Farmer’s Walk. If it’s your first time, start by holding two heavy dumbbells (grab the same weight as you would for a dumbbell chest press for starters) and walk 20 yards.
Turn around and walk back.
Build up to other variations such as the single arm to challenge your oblique’s and your lower back’s anti-flexion and stability strength. This is a one of the best shoulder workouts. Lifting up one dumbbell to shoulder height or even overhead is another great adjustment.
#5 College Carries
For the ultimate challenge go college style, carrying the keg with one hand on the top rim and the other on the bottom rim for the best grip. This will shift the center of gravity forward causing your back and glutes to light up like a coal-fueled furnace.
If possible, start by carrying a sand-filled keg.
This way the insides will stay still and make it easier to balance. From there, graduate to carrying the full ½ barrel keg that weighs a cool 160.5 pounds. You’ll look like a beast carrying that thing up the stairs and into the party. Just don’t be around when they try to tap it.
#6 Push It Real Good
Carrying a keg is pretty mighty and will definitely attract the opposite sex. To be the full package, you’ll want to be able to move even heavier things.
Prowler pushes are one of the most grueling exercises. The goal is quite simple. Load up a sled with a few hundred pounds and use the sheer force in your legs and arms to push it from point A to point B as fast as you can.
Just like running, it’s much easier to generate momentum on asphalt compared to grass. The push can be made even more challenging by the style of push used. Pushing from the high handles will engage the posterior chain more. Pushing from the low handles will target the quads more.
Another technique to upping the push is to literally throw the prowler forward. Rather than getting down into sprint mode, set up in a flexed position behind the prowler and explode forward pushing the prowler as far as you can. Get behind it again and repeat.
#7 No Flat Tires
It’s true: Most facilities won’t have a prowler just at your disposal unless you’re in a pro-athlete training center. It’s even more unlikely your garage has one, but it has something just as good.
It should have a 2,000-pound car.
Think of it as car breakdown training. Get behind that car and push it as fast as you can. The stronger you are, the more I’d suggest enlisting a driver/someone to yell at you (spouses are great at this). The first few feet will be tough, but with momentum it’s incredibly doable.
Prowler or car pushes make for an excellent Saturday morning beginner workout routine or even leg workout finisher. Note: It’s very likely you’ll puke if it’s after a leg workout.
As tough as it is, since the legs only have resistance in the concentric portion it’s actually beneficial for recovery and strength.
#8 Pull It Out
When push comes to shove, just forget it and pull. Pulling versus pushing a sled has all the total body benefits, but changes the emphasis substantially.
Sled pulls are done by hooking up a rope or even TRX to a sled (or car) then running backward while facing the sled.
You’ll quickly find that the quads take a large brunt of the action. A commonly overlooked aspect on the movement though is the scapular stability. To safely do this exercise, your shoulders should be pulled back and down, arms pulled into the sides and chest puffed out proud.
Holding this position is an excellent antidote to the poor slouched over posture created by sitting at desks. It also builds strong traps.
This is an awesome chest workout.
#9 Hold Your Ground
To target the back even more it’s a simple adjustment. Attach a thick rope that’s at least 20 yards long to the sled. Then with the rope fully stretched, hold your ground and pull the sled towards you alternating arms.
It’s important that your feet do not move so that your back can pull while the core braces maximally to provide stability.
To make sure no cheating happens just draw a line and start with your toes on it like a foul shot.
#10 Grizzly Bear Power
Amassing total body strength means having strength in all planes of motion and getting your hands dirty. Weight lifting massive amounts or having a powerful sprint are great, but it leaves glaring weak points.
Going back to the baby or bear basics, crawling, is much tougher than you would think. Getting down on all fours, maintaining a flat back and moving in all different directions forges the body into a complete specimen.
Bear crawls can be done in every direction imaginable. Most will find that going straightforward is easiest. Going 10 yards forward, then immediately going 10 yards backward is vastly tougher.
It’s obvious the arms will work hard, but don’t be surprised when it’s the legs that give out.
While also skyrocketing heart rates.
In the case that you’ve never stopped crawling since the crib, all you need to do is add resistance. Have a partner loop a band around your torso and hold you back like a bucking horse. It will be awesome and incredibly taxing. Many just care about building upper body muscles. This is about body conditioning unlike any other. If you truly want to know how to increase strength, you’ll give this a try.
Bear crawls are a great exercise not only due to the full body effect, but because they use no equipment. Doing a combo of different crawls through intervals or circuits is a great hotel or at home workout plan. It’ll also add quite a bit of spice to any gym training sessions.
#11 Renegade Row Push-ups
Like the name implies, this is a hard-hitting exercise.
Interested in a body conditioning exercise?
Great! This is the type of exercise that leaves the whole body shaking and the lungs gasping for air. The shoulders burn from the inside out, the rhomboids are lit on fire and the core literally will be quivering.
To do this exercise start by grabbing two fairly light dumbbells (round dumbbells are much more challenging). Hold them flat on the ground under the shoulders and assume the push-up position.
Without moving the torso, row one dumbbell up to the ribs, place it down then lift the other. After this, do a push-up and repeat.
This move requires massive amounts of total body stability and gets tough very quickly. Bringing your feet together decreases the base of stability and puts more emphasis on your core.
Adding a full body rotation by lifting the dumbbell to a T position and stacking your shoulders requires even more stability, while calling on many muscles to make the move.
This is a great exercise to use in circuits, as an upper body warm-up, to mix into core workouts and one of the great shoulder workouts for mass.
It’s time to get into beast mode! Weight lifting is great, but you also want to consider how to increase strength, as well as body conditioning.
Start including these exercises whether you’re working out on the road, in the gym or just carrying a keg to a party. Your lower and upper body muscles are sure to pop.
Just be sure to train the total body to gain functional power and physical dominance. Get after it!
By Raphael Konforti MS, CPT