Finding Mighty Me

Essential Functional Movement Drills

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Of course, the real question is, what are these elusive functional movement patterns, and how can you start training for functional fitness? At GMB Fitness, Ilano and his cohorts focus on "locomotion patterns that take your body through different directions and angles that are especially helpful for learning where you have weaknesses that need to be shored up." They focus on three specific exercises, each of which involves several movement patterns, and each of which has a series of modifications and variations:

The Bear. The bear involves "all fours crawling," much like the bear crawl exercise you may have done in high school athletics. When you work on different bear variations, you ultimately develop strength through your shoulders, back, arms, and legs, while enhancing hamstring and calf flexibility, spinal and limb stability (particularly at the shoulders, knees, and elbows), as well as overall improved mobility.

The Monkey. The monkey involves side hopping from a squat position. Essentially you enter a deep squat (imagine what a caveman might've looked like when crouching next to a fire—hips dropped low behind and between your legs, knees fully bent, spine neutral, and your arms placed on the ground in front of your feet), then you maintain this low squat position while using your arms to help you hop and move laterally to each side.

The Frogger. The frogger involves forward and backward hopping from a squat position. You again enter the deep squat, but this time you use your arms to help you hop and move forward and backward while maintaining a deep squat.

Both the monkey and frogger exercises and their associated variations help develop core strength, shoulder girdle strength and stability, dynamic stability of the spine, hip flexibility, hand and wrist flexibility and strength, balance, coordination, and motor control.

So with just three moves—the bear, the frogger, and the monkey—you're essentially testing your entire body from head to foot, identifying your own strengths and weaknesses in relation to how you move, and developing the strength, flexibility, and coordination necessary to be a "functional human being."

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