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A single leg squat to pulldown
Continuing Education1 Credit

Total Body Exercises and Functional Exercise Progressions

Functional strength training exercises - best progressions for subsystem integration movements, total body endurance, stability, hypertrophy, and strength, and a sample total body routine.

Course Summary: Total Body Exercises and Functional Exercise Progressions

Total body exercises that integrate multiple muscles (including the core muscles) should be incorporated into any routine that is part of a functional training program, because these functional exercises are most likely to have a positive impact on everyday activity.

This course discusses variations, progressions, and regressions of total body exercises (a.k.a. integrated exercises, functional exercises, functional training exercises, functional movements, whole-body exercises, total body workouts, etc). Almost all of these movement patterns include a compound upper body exercise with a compound lower body exercise, with the intent of integrating multiple muscle groups into a functional movement pattern. These functional exercises challenge core stability and neuromuscular control, and have particularly high transference to daily life and intense physical activity. Further, this course includes detailed directions for cueing to optimize recruitment (e.g. increase core stability and glute recruitment), optimize foot placement (e.g. shoulder width, or the correct distance between the right foot and left foot), address muscle imbalances (e.g. scapula position, pelvic position, etc.), and increase force production for use during strength training.

Additionally, this course covers the more advanced functional anatomy relevant to the analysis of compound movements and the recruitment of muscle synergies, including the contribution of core subsystems (e.g. posterior oblique subsystem ) and the use of whole-body exercises during neuromuscular re-education (a.k.a. integration exercises). Note, analysis of integrated exercises is also excellent practice for developing the analysis skills that are necessary to breakdown the complex motions involved in everyday movement.

This course is built from a systematic research review, it is pre-approved for credits toward the Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) Certification, and pre-approved for continuing education credits for movement professionals (personal trainers, fitness instructors, physical therapists, athletic trainers, massage therapists, chiropractors, occupational therapists, etc.). We hope this course inspires the inclusion of whole-body (functional exercises) for all goals in fitness, performance, and physical rehabilitation. For example, total body work-outs for fitness enthusiasts (e.g. a series of whole-body exercises), functional strength training for athletes (e.g. holding your position in the paint during basketball, or pushing a defender out of position during football, etc.), or regaining function following an injury (e.g. step-up to press to prepare for pushing open a heavy door).

Additional Progression Courses:

Strength Progressions

Core Progressions

Power Progressions

Sample Progression: Legs with Pull (Posterior Obliques Subsystem)

  1. Squat to bilateral row
  2. Squat to unilateral row
  3. Step-up to bilateral row
  4. Step-up to unilateral row
  5. Static sagittal plane lunge to bilateral row
    • Unilateral row
    • Bilateral row, front foot unstable
    • Unilateral row, front foot unstable
  6. Dynamic sagittal plane lunge to bilateral row
    • Unilateral row
    • Bilateral row, to balance
    • Unilateral row, to balance
    • Bilateral row, to balance, front foot unstable
    • Unilateral row, to balance, front foot unstable
  7. Single-leg squat to bilateral cable pull-down

Sample Program

Routine 1 (Month 1)

Goal: Upper Body Strength Endurance/Stability

Routine 2 (Month 2)

Goal: Upper Body Hypertrophy (Strength/Stability Supersets)

Study Guide: Total Body Exercises and Functional Exercise Progressions


Research Corner

Points on Form

Squat Form and Modifications

Legs with Pull Videos and Progressions

Legs with Shoulders/Overhead Press Videos and Progressions

Legs with Shoulders (Continued)

Single Leg Touchdown with Shoulder Videos and Progressions

Legs with Chest Press/Push Videos and Progressions


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