Developing overall body strength should be a goal of every athlete aiming to improve his or her performance. While working each muscle group individually can be beneficial to your training, it is also important to incorporate movements into your workout that involve various muscle groups throughout your body. This not only strengthens and develops these muscle groups but also trains them to work together in performing the various skills required in sports and everyday life. In this article, I will go over five full body exercises that are great in this regard.
Many of you may notice that I have left out movements such as the deadlift and squat which are very important for building overall body strength. These two exercises, along with other basic overall strength exercises, should already be an important part of your workout program and should be mastered before moving on to more complex movements.
1. The Snatch
A full drop snatch is the most complex movement that you will come across in your training. It requires overall body strength, as well as speed and timing. Many lifters have dedicated their entire lives to mastering this movement and spend several hours a day perfecting it. However, to get the full-body benefits the snatch has to offer, you do not need to be 100% efficient on this movement. Don’t get me wrong, you should still seek proper coaching and use proper form when doing the snatch, but let’s face it: you are not going to be as efficient as the guys who have dedicated their lives to this movement, and unless you are twelve years old, you probably never will be. That doesn’t have to stop you from getting as close to perfection as you can and reaping the benefits from it.
Now that I’m done ranting, let’s take a look at the basics of this movement. The general idea is to get the bar from off the ground to over your head in the most efficient way possible. There are a number of things you should remember, like driving with your heels, clearing your knees, exploding with your hips, and pulling yourself under the bar. When you catch the bar, everything should be locked out until you reach the top position. Keep it tight! Also note that your grip should be quite wide on the bar.
2. Clean and Jerk
Like the snatch, the clean and jerk is also a complex movement that will take time and patience to master, but again, this should not prevent you from learning this movement and getting the benefits. With good coaching and dedication I know you can learn to properly clean and jerk. It might not be easy but it will be worth it if you are serious about improving overall athletic performance.
The basic idea of the clean and jerk is to get the bar from the ground to your shoulders and then from your shoulder to a locked out position above your head. Some of the same basic steps that apply to the snatch also apply to the clean and jerk. You will drive with your heels, clear your knees, explode with your hips, and drop under the bar. Once you catch the bar and return to the standing position, bend your knees outward slightly and explode upward, sending the weight above your head. Immediately drop under the bar and drive it back up to the standing position.
3. Turkish Get Up
Turkish get ups are also a fairly complex movement that involve getting from lying down on your back to standing up all while holding weight above your head in one hand. This may sound pretty difficult, but it’s actually not too bad once you get the movement figured out. Just know that it will require balance and strength from your entire body.
To set up for the movement, lie on your back with a kettlebell in one hand extended straight up in the air with the knee that is on the same side as the kettlebell bent. Begin the movement by pivoting toward your free hand and use that arm and hand to push you forward into a seated position. Next, lift your glutes off the floor, look up at the kettlebell, and stand up while keeping everything stable. Once the kettlebell is extended straight up above your head, reverse the movement back to the starting position. Your arm holding the kettlebell should be locked out at all times.
4. Kettlebell Swings
Kettlebell swings are awesome for developing the explosiveness throughout your body and off your hips required in Olympic lifts. To perform kettlebell swings, start by grabbing the kettlebell in both hands, push your hips backwards, and slightly bend your knees. Your back should be flat and it should remain flat throughout the entire movement. Once you are in this position, swing the weight back between your legs and then reverse the movement by driving your hips forward. While keeping your arms straight, allow the weight to rise up above your head. Your arms and the length of the kettlebell should remain in a straight line throughout the movement. Keep your arms straight, and once the weight reaches the top of the movement, let it swing back down, then repeat.
Thrusters are basically a combination of a front squat and a push press. You will start with the bar on your shoulders in a front rack position, just like you would when performing a front squat. Squat down to full depth and then explode back up using your shoulders and the speed generated with your legs to press the bar overhead. Once the bar is overhead, use your shoulders to stabilize the bar and bring the weight back over your heels. Return the bar to your shoulders and repeat the movement.
Bonus Bodyweight Movement: Burpees
Burpees are an awesome addition to our list of full body exercises and are great for building muscle endurance. For those of you involved in Crossfit, you know how much this movement can take out of you during a workout. So if you are ever bored and want to get in some full body training, hit the ground and do some burpees. See how many you can do in a row; that’ll keep you busy for a bit.
And that’s it! If you are not currently incorporating these movements into your workout, I would highly recommend doing so. Like I said, these movements are great for any athlete wanting to increase his or her overall performance. Find a place for each of these movements in your training program and start seeing and feeling what they have to offer.