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Sample Class: Push, Pull, Bend, Twist, Squat and Lunge (BTSL)

During the past decade, the term functional training has been used to describe programs that mirror everyday activities. Functional exercises are sometimes referred to as multiplanar movements that require coordination of two or more limbs, muscle groups, joints or areas of the body. There is another simpler way to define functional movement: pushing, pulling, bending, twisting, squatting and lunging! Look closely at these gross motor patterns that humans perform daily and you see an easy formula and library of movement patterns for a strength training class.

The exercises in this workout, both open chain and closed chain, are categorized according to the definitions below. The classifications depend on which limb or limbs are being used, what type of resistance is employed and the position of the body or body part in relation to gravity. Most exercises will cross over, combining several of the six gross movement patterns.

push: to move resistance away from the torso using one or more of the four extremities

pull: to move resistance toward the torso using one or more of the four extremities

twist: to rotate the torso or a joint

bend: to flex a single joint or several joints (knee, hip, elbow)

squat: to flex the hip, knee and ankle (includes a variety of feet positions, including single-leg)

lunge: to position one leg forward with hip, knee and ankle flexed (performed forward, backward or to the side)

Push, Pull, BTSL Details

FORMAT: group exercise strength training class

TOTAL TIME: 45–60 minutes (adjusting content as needed)

LEVEL: intermediate, with modifications for all levels

EQUIPMENT NEEDED: This depends on studio supply and instructor’s choice. Examples include the body itself; the Body Bar® or dumbbells (sufficient weight to fatigue after 12 repetitions or after a specific duration); resistance tubing; Gliding™ discs (one pair per participant); steps; Reebok® Core Board; stability balls or BOSU® Ballast® Ball; BOSU® Balance Trainer; medicine balls (2–4 pounds); and exercise mats.

MUSIC: Working on the beat of the music is optional; however, when doing so, 126–130 beats per minute is recommended.

Warm-Up (3–5 minutes)

Use full-body, dynamic movements to prepare joints and muscles for the forces and mechanics of the exercises.

Push, Pull, BTSL Exercises

These total-body, integrated exercises are designed to improve overall strength, balance, coordination and muscle control. Each set is composed of two base movement patterns. Perform 8–12 reps of each pattern separately (each side separately if warranted), and then integrate the two movements.

Allow 4–5 minutes for each series of three movements.

Exercise 1 (Bend, Pull)

Hold weighted bar in hands, and hinge at hips.

1. From hip-hinge position, lift and lower weighted bar (lat pull).

2. Stand without bar, and hinge at hip. Return to upright position.

Integration. Flex forward into hip hinge, lower and lift bar, and return to upright position.

Exercise 2 (Push, Twist, Lunge)

Stand holding medicine ball or weighted ball.

1. Perform cross-chop lift with rotation (down to up).

2. Perform backward lunge.

Integration. Perform backward lunge with cross-chop lift (progressively add more rotation).

Exercise 3 (Push, Pull, Squat, Bend)

Stand on Gliding discs, holding weighted ball in hands.

1. Push ball forward and pull back in front of chest.

2. Perform side lunge with Gliding disc, lift extended leg, lower extended leg, and return to start position (no ball).

Integration. Do side lunge, push ball forward as you lift leg, and then return to start position.

Exercise 4 (Twist, Push, Lunge)

Stand with medicine ball in hands, arms extended.

1. Rotate torso side to side.

2. Perform forward lunge followed by backward lunge on same leg (no ball).

Integration. Rotate torso side to side while lunging forward and backward on same leg.

Exercise 5 (Push, Bend, Twist)

Stand holding kettlebell.

1. Hold kettlebell in one hand, arm extended, and horizontally move it out to the side. Return to center.

2. Lift non-weight-bearing leg, flex knee to 90 degrees and perform external rotation.

Integration. Move kettlebell to side with external rotation of opposite leg.

Exercise 6 (Push, Twist, Squat)

Stand holding stability ball.

1. Push stability ball overhead on a diagonal (alternate sides).

2. Perform squat, and extend legs to standing position.

Integration. Squat, extend legs, and push stability ball overhead on diagonal (alternate sides).

Exercise 7 (Pull, Squat)

Stand holding dumbbells.

1. Stand with 30 degrees of forward flexion at hip, and perform back flye.

2. Perform squat without dumbbells; return to standing.

Integration. Squat, do back flye with dumbbells, and return to standing.

Exercise 8 (Bend, Twist)

Hold medicine ball in hands, and hinge at hips.

1. In hip-hinge position, rotate torso and move ball with extended arms.

2. Stand (no ball), hinge at hip, and return to upright.

Integration. Hinge at hips, rotate torso with ball, and then return to center and upright position.

Exercise 9 (Push, Pull, Bend)

Start from floor, on knees, with hands on stability ball.

1. Perform rollout on ball (create plank position from knee to shoulder, and pull ball back to start).

2. In plank position, extend both knees, hold, and flex to lower knees to floor.

Integration. Perform rollout, extend knees, return knees to floor, and return to start position.

Exercise 10 (Push, Pull, Bend)

Lie supine on floor with feet on stability ball.

1. Lift hips off floor into bridge position; return hips to floor.

2. Lie supine, pull ball toward buttocks with heels, and push back to start.

Integration. Lift hips into bridge, pull ball toward buttocks, push ball back to start position, and lower hips.

Exercise 11 (Push, Bend, Pull)

Begin on floor, prone, with feet on Gliding discs.

1. Perform push-ups.

2. In plank position, arms extended, perform simultaneous bilateral flexion and extension with knees, pulling discs toward torso; return to start.

Integration. Do push-up; in push-up position, flex and extend legs.

Exercise 12 (Push, Pull, Bend, Twist)

Start from side-lying position on forearm, rib cage lifted, feet on floor, with weighted ball in front of torso.

1. Lift and lower hips (no ball).

2. Lift and lower weighted ball with non-weight-bearing arm; rotate torso (return ball to start position each time).

Integration. Lift hips and lift ball. Lower hips and return ball to start position.

Cool-Down (3–5 minutes)

Perform an active cool-down that includes a flexibility component and a final relaxation.

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